The federal lawsuit, which was filed on the 100th anniversary of the Apache chieftain’s death, claims the group stole the remains of the Apache leader and is demanding their return. The lawsuit has also named the university and President Barack Obama as plaintiffs in the case.
Harlyn Geronimo, the 61-year-old great grandson of Geronimo, and 19 other people are suing under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a U.S. federal law that provides a process for museums and federal agencies to return human remains, funerary items and other objects to direct descendants or affiliated Native American tribes.
The lawsuit alleges members of Skull and Bones stole Geronimo’s skull, some bones and other items from his gravesite in 1918 or 1919 and transported them to the society’s headquarters in New Haven, New York. According to the Yale Daily News, that group is rumoured to have included Prescott Bush, the father of former President George H. W. Bush and grandfather to former President George W. Bush.
Skull and Bones has never said whether or not any of Geronimo’s remains are in its possession.
“I believe it’s a good cause because indigenous people over the century have been annihilated, removed from their homeland,” said Geronimo at a press conference in Washington, D.C. “If remains are not properly buried, the spirit is just wandering, wandering, until a proper burial has been performed.”
He says he wants the remains returned and reburied near his great grandfather’s birthplace in the Gila Wilderness, New Mexico.
Membership into Yale’s super-secret society is reserved for the “elite of the elite at the Ivy League school,” according to a report from the Associated Press. Only 15 Yale seniors are asked to join each year.
Members swear an oath of secrecy about the group and its strange rituals, which include devotion to the number “322,” and initiation rites such as confession of sexual secrets and kissing a skull, which is rumoured to be Geronimo’s.