Descendants of Geronimo filed a suit in federal court against the secret Skull and Bones society seeking the return of the legendary Apache Chief's remains that the secret society is rumored to have in their possession.
Skull and Bones is a secret society at Yale University in Connecticut that has been linked to powerful figures and presidents. The plaintiffs contend that Skull of Bones members stole the remains of Geronimo in 1918 from Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
In 2005, a Yale historian discovered a 1918 letter sent to Skull and Bones member, and later the Central Intelligence Agency's first human resources director, F. Trubee Davison by Winter Mead that said, "The skull of the worthy Geronimo the Terrible, exhumed from its tomb at Fort Sill by your club and Knight Haffuer, is now safe inside the T - together with is well worn femurs, bit and saddle horn."
Members of Skull and Bones, including former President George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, were said to have dug up Geronimo's grave when they were stationed at the Fort Sill during World War I as Army volunteers.
The lawsuit was filed in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, the 100th anniversary of Geronimos death from pneumonia in 1909. Geronimo and 35 warriors surrendered near the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1886 after years of fighting the U.S. and Mexican armies.
Geronimo's descendants want the remains turned over so they can be reinterred near Geronimo's birthplace in southern New Mexico's Gila Wilderness. "I believe strongly from my heart that his spirit was never released," Geronimo's great-grandson Harlyn Geronimo said.
Their lawsuit also names President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Army Secretary Pete Geren as defendants because Geronimo's initial burial spot was on a federal Army base. Yale University was also named as a defendant. Ramsey Clark, who served as attorney general under former President Lyndon Johnson, is representing the plaintiffs.
Former Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, Ned Anderson, sought to repatriate Geronimo's remains about a decade ago after he received a tip that the Skull and Bones society was in possession of the skull. The informant sent pictures of the bones that were on display along with a copy of a ledger from the secret society that contained notations about the grave robbery. The informant said Geronimo's skull was always placed on a table in front of participants during certain rituals held by the secret society.
Attorney Endicott P. Davison, who represented the Skull & Bones Society, denied in 2000 that the club had Geronimo's skull and claimed the ledger describing the theft was forged.
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