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Geronimo Descendant Pursues Spirited Fight
For now, Geronimo's remains lie under a pyramid monument made of stone in the Apache Prisoner of War Cemetery at Fort Sill.
Or maybe not. His skull might have been spirited to New Haven, Conn.,where it could be featured in ghoulish rituals of the secretive student society Skull and Bones, at Yale, to which have belonged three generations of Bushes.
Then, too, perhaps the warrior is not really "still in imprisonment," as Harlyn Geronimo insists. Maybe the remains are free to be removed from the U.S. Army post -- if only the Apaches could make up their minds where they belong. There are factions, and they disagree.
Clark treated the reporters to an extemporaneous disquisition on the Apaches, touching on their linguistic roots in Siberia and their first contact with the Spaniards in the 1500s. His legal complaint quotes a wide variety of sources, including Willa Cather's "Death Comes for the Archbishop."
The defendants are Obama, the secretaries of defense and the Army, Yale and the Order of Skull and Bones. If the lawsuit is successful, Geronimo -- all of him -- will be reburied where he was born in 1829 in New Mexico.
In his autobiography, the warrior wrote: "I want to spend my last days there, and be buried among those mountains."
Harlyn Geronimo suspects his great-grandfather's skull is being fetishized by undergraduates in New Haven. The latest support for this claim was uncovered two years ago by a researcher at Yale. It's a June 1918 letter from one Bonesman to another, Winter Mead to F. Trubee Davison:
"The skull of the worthy Geronimo the Terrible, exhumed from its tomb at Fort Sill by your club . . . is now safe inside [the clubhouse] together with his well worn femurs, bit & saddle horn."
Another account alleges that Prescott Bush, George W. Bush's grandfather, was one of the graverobbers.
"It's all a bunch of poppycock," said Towana Spivey, a Geronimo expert, a Chickasaw, and director of the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark Museum. He was on the phone from Fort Sill. "He's still buried where he was originally."
Spivey says he is so certain because the Apaches deliberately misled outsiders as to the location of the grave, and a description of the tomb the Yalies allegedly found doesn't match Geronimo's. Over the years, representatives of Skull and Bones have denied the club has the skull.
What's more, says Spivey, Clark and Geronimo have it wrong. The Army is not keeping Geronimo's remains captive. It is the Apaches, not the Army, who decide who stays and who goes from the cemetery.