CNN probes: Did Prescott Bush steal Geronimo's skull?
While it has long been rumored that Skull and Bones, the Yale secret society which counts several scions of the Bush family as members, holds the skull of legendary Apache warrior Geronimo, his descendants have taken action to uncover the truth.
Last week, on the 100th anniversary of Geronimo's death, 20 members of his family filed a suit in a US federal court, asking that his spirit and physical remains, including his skull, be freed.
Tuesday morning, CNN's Debra Feyerick explored the suit, discussing an 1918 letter from a bonesman, discovered two years ago, which seems to indicate Geronimo's skull is stored within "the tomb" where members hold meetings on Yale's campus. The network also repeated allegations that deceased Senator Prescott Bush, father of President George H.W. Bush and grandfather to President George W. Bush, was one of the grave robbers.
"It's been 100 years since the death of my great-grandfather in 1909. It's been 100 years of imprisonment," Geronimo's great-grandson Harlyn Geronimo told reporters after the suit had been filed in the district court in Washington.
"The spirit is wandering until a proper burial has been performed," Harlyn Geronimo said.
The suit, which names US President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates among the defendants, seeks "to free Geronimo, his remains, funerary objects and spirit from 100 years of imprisonment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the Yale University campus at New Haven, Connecticut and wherever else they may be found."
The remains would be returned to Geronimo's wilderness birthplace in the western United States for a true Apache burial, a key facet of the native American tribe's culture.
"The only way to put this into closure is to release the remains, his spirit, so that he can be taken back to his homeland in the Gila Mountains, at the head of the Gila River," in what is today the state of New Mexico, Geronimo's reported ancestor said.
"Hopefully, the people we have named in our suit will take this seriously ... Hopefully, they will seriously consider our request to release the remains and perform a correct burial in the Gila wilderness," said Geronimo, stressing that the burial ritual is one of the most sacred rites in the Apache culture.
In addition to Obama and Gates, the complaint cites as defendants Army Secretary Pete Geren, Yale University, and the Order of the Skull and Bones, a "secret society" at Yale.
In around 1918, members of the Order of the Skull and Bones allegedly took Geronimo's skull, other bones and items buried with him from the warrior's tomb at Fort Sill. They are believed to still hold them at the organization's premises on the campus of Yale, a prestigious Ivy League university.
Harlyn Geronimo said he had written to George W. Bush to ask that his great-grandfather's remains be returned to his Apache homeland for burial, but never got a reply.
Geronimo died in 1909 at nearly 90 years of age at Fort Sill.
He had been held as a prisoner of war for more than 20 years after surrendering to the US military on the understanding he would be allowed to return to his homeland and people.
"Skull and Bones, with all its ritual and macabre relics, was founded in 1832 as a new world version of secret student societies that were common in Germany at the time," reported CBS News. "Since then, it has chosen or 'tapped' only 15 senior students a year who become patriarchs when they graduate -- lifetime members of the ultimate old boys' club."
In 2004, both candidates for the presidency, George W. Bush and John F. Kerry, were reported to be members. The group's numbers "include some of the most powerful men of the 20th century," according to CBS.
"Skull and Bones is so tiny. That's what makes this staggering," Alexandra Robbins, author of "Secrets of the Tomb" -- an investigation of the secret society -- told the network news service. "There are only 15 people a year, which means there are about 800 living members at any one time."
"'It's a secret,' John Kerry said when asked about his membership," reported Time magazine. "'So secret, I can't say anything more,' George W. Bush wrote in his autobiography, as if to complete Kerry's sentence."
"Yale says it does not have Geroimo's remains and it does not speak for the secret society," reported CNN.
"Man," said American Morning co-host Kiran Chetry. "How did Yale know that they didn't have ..."
"Yeah," retorted CNN's Deborah Feyerick. "Well, there ya go. But, they're looking into it. Technically, they could subpoena and see if anybody will say, yeah well, that happens to be the skull, but, unlikely."
Wikipedia purports to feature a list of Skull and Bones members, though the article lacks key citations and could not be verified.
This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Feb. 24, 2009.
Download video via RawReplay.com
With wire reports.
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