Skull & Bones sued for Geronimo’s remains

The heirs of an Apache chieftain whose remains are rumored to be held inside Yale’s oldest secret society filed a lawsuit today demanding the return of their ancestor’s skull.

Twenty descendants of the legendary Apache chieftain Geronimo are suing government officials, the University and the society Skull & Bones in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to seek the return of his remains as well as punitive damages.

One hundred years ago today, Geronimo died of pneumonia at Fort Sill, Okla., but the suit alleges members of the society exhumed his remains in 1918 or 1919 and transported them to the society’s High Street tomb in New Haven. The group rumored to have stolen Geronimo’s skull, bones and other items from his gravesite is said to have included Prescott Bush, the father of former President George H. W. Bush ’48 and grandfather to former President George W. Bush ’68.

“To assure that all existing remains of Geronimo and funerary objects are recovered by Geronimo’s lineal descendants, the Order of Skull and Bones and Yale University must account for any such articles that are or have been in their possession, or on their property,” the formal complaint states. “And persons with knowledge must provide any facts known to them concerning the claims.”

A representative of the Russell Trust Association, which administers the society, did not return telephone messages on Tuesday.

For more news on this breaking story, see tomorrow’s News.


  • Recent Alum

    We will now see whether Yale will stand up to defend its worthwhile traditions as vehemently as it defended the Yale senior (and Skull & Bones member) who trespassed on a New Havener's property to burn their American flag a few years ago.

  • Uncle Toby

    I'm not sure the Apache know what they're getting into here…

  • Anonymous

    This is a little ridiculous if they can't prove that Skull & Bones even has these remains. Even more ridiculous that they're dragging in the University and the federal government, who had nothing to do with any of it.

  • y07

    Book & Snake has a skull allegedly from S&B. Maybe the wrong people are getting sued?

  • Alum

    I thought it was Scroll & Key, not Book & Snake…

  • Y09

    Sounds like a 3-way contest ;)

  • Observer

    Isn't there a statute of limitations on theft? Or is there no statute of limitations on civil claims generally (just criminal)?

  • Mary

    Won't DNA prove or disprove kinship?
    If they are relation, let them do it their way.

    I would want the same right if this was my family.

  • Annie

    Statute of limitations? That is a "man" made rule. With Mother Nature there are "NO" limitations. What is right is right. What is wrong is wrong. "If" the skull of Geronimo was stolen 100 years ago..That was wrong. If asked to make it "right" 100 years later to give it back….Give it back.
    (It's not nice to fool Mother Nature)

  • y07

    I mean, Book & Snake definitely has A skull (as in, I have seen it); it's thoroughly possible that every society has a skull, all of which are claimed to be Geronimo's/the S&B skull.

    There might be a statute of limitations, but I don't think S&B is being prosecuted for theft. I think this is a lawsuit under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which almost certainly has a very, very, very long statute of limitations (if any) given the issues involved.

  • Robert

    I see that they "…seek the return of his remains as well as punitive damages."

    I'm sure, however, they'd be satisfied just getting the money…

  • Elizabeth

    The Apache Nation deserves answers and the return of anything S&B or Yale U. obsconded with.How could there be a statute of limits on a horrendous anglo practice that is more than a hundred years old? Robert #11,I suspect that is what you would do, it's not about the money…N. Americans figured that out a long time ago. That's a white man's idea!

  • robert99

    The horror of it all! No proof, just rumors, and the Anglos are to blame! No, it really was George Bush (either of them) and if not George then the grandfather. All Anglos all guilty. Jeez get a life.

  • Willard

    My x father-in-law was a bonesman in the same class with Prescott Bush. You might want to check on how that generation of S&B died. My F-in-law was a tortured soul and all of the intelligence and $ couldn’t make his end better. Maybe Geronimo’s curse? Better watch where you put your lips boys and girls.

  • Anonymous

    I'm very excited that Harrison has entered the race.

  • Y09

    Can anyone who knows more about the law comment on the following:
    -punative damages
    -90 years
    -a jury of non-Yalies, and probably people unsympathetic to our institution

    Could S&B's endowment be cleared out? A similar legal strategy was used by the SPLC against KKK groups and they bankrupted them. Could this happen here? I've heard the endowment is less than $10mm.

  • (Anonymous)

    Mike Jones for Ward 1!

  • Stacey

    As an enrolled member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation (no -- not the same tribe), it seems like this suit has gotten some passionate responses. Thou doth protest too loudly, doncha all think?

  • Ather Masood

    It has now been 91 years since the act took place. Ninety-one years since the reamins of Goyathlay were taken and used in the most disrespectful way. I would like to remind the faculty of Yale of what I said to you in 1999 and then again in 2003. If you would like to urniate, confess your sexual desires, rub blood on the bones of your ansectors then go ahead and do so on the bones of your grandparents. Dig up your ansector's graves and do your thing that way. In these ninety-one years I want to ask the members of the Skulls and Bones a question? By what right do you still after all of these years of war internally and externally with the Indigenous People of this land do you still maintain your secret identity? Why do still dishonor the memory of Goyahkla even after he decided to respect your ways towards the end of his life? Is it not proper for those of you who still practice what you practice in secret to at least respect the dead ansector WHO IS YOUR DEAD ANSECTOR as well as everyone who is born and raised on this land ? You who do what you do in secret do not honor anyone or anything with the number 322. Though you may be powerful and rule this land, I do not fear you. And ask in the name of common respect that you return the remains to their rightful owners, WHO NOW HAVE BEEN ASKING YOU FOR HOW MANY YEARS? Stop your prejudice towards the original people of this land. And let me also say since I am on this topic, those of you who are secretly harboring prejudice towards the Native Peoples of this land in Government, to resign, since you still harbour old hatreds from the past, which are not in tune with the positions you hold. DOES THE ADVISORY BOARD AT YALE UNIVERSITY HAVE ANY CONSCIENCE LEFT? You know the truth of this matter. Why do you stay silent? WHY DO YOU SILENTLY SPEAK ABOUT THIS ISSUE IN YOUR PRIVATE GATHERINGS AND REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT HAS BEEN DONE? YOU who did not commit the crime in 1918 are not guilty BUT YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE IF YOU DO NOT OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND CORRECT WHAT WAS DONE.

    You want proof of what Yale is being accused of? DO NOT ASK THOSE WHO ARE BRINGING THE LAWSUIT OF WHAT WAS DONE IN 1918. ASK YOURSELF WHY HAS NOTHNING BEEN DONE AND THE CRIES OF those who have brought attention to this matter have been silenced ? THEN ASK THOSE WHO ARE SPEAKING PRIVATELY (and you already know of whom I speak of) ABOUT THIS MATTER FOR WHY THEY SPEAK OF GERONIMO'S REMAINS IN SECRET BUT SAY SOMETHING OPPOSITTE IN PUBLIC. Within the government and those outside?
    Let the spirit of Geronimo find it's peace. Let his soul find rest after all of these years you have tortured his person and his honor. Let him be at peace AS HE TRIED TO BE AT PEACE WITH YOU IN THE END OF HIS LIFE IN THIS WORLD.
    Reedem yourslef and plant a new tree of life away from what you have done.
    And no matter what else you do to his remains in private, he will never die in our hearts. YOU HAVE FAILED TO DESTROY HIM.
    Goyathlay is not dead. He lives and is with those of us who love him.
    You will hear from me again in another way until this issue is resolved.

  • John Korab

    I'm not certain about this case, but NAGPRA (The Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act), which entitles Native nations to have final say when it comes to Native American remains and funerary or ceremonial objects, does not have a statute of limitations. I would hope that Skull & Bones does not have Geronimo's remains. If it does, then it should return them. If it does not, then is should refrain from claiming it does have them because, frankly, it is distasteful in the same way that keeping a souvenir of a lynching would be and, therefore, unworthy of the supposedly elite students who belong to this privileged organization . With great power comes great responsibility. Skull & Bones needs to come clean.

  • I have an idea!!!

    Why don't the Apache's dig up Prescott's head and swap it for thier ancestor's.

  • ?

    But haven't you heard? There is not G-d?

    I love how we all leap on the bandwagon of respect for everything in Gaialand BUT the Lord our Saviour.

  • Stacey

    To Ather Masood, post #17: I can certainly feel your passion and frustration. To #19: initially, your idea sounded good to me, but then I remembered I have been taught that the Apache people have great respect for the dead. But, I do appreciate the intention behind your statement…! To the current members of the Skull and Bones Society: what possible benefit do you gain by possession of Goyathlay's remains? Is it really that difficult for you to see this from the point of view of the Chiricahua? If you do indeed have his remains in your possession, do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do and be done with it. This man was quite possibly one of the most inspiring and revered Native Americans to walk this earth, and it is such a slap in the face of his descendants having to fight for what is rightfully theirs. It would be so very simple to just return the remains to the Chiricahua people so that they can put him to rest in their own way, thereby affording him the reverence and respect he deserves. Why is that so difficult? What example does this set for other young Yale students, and young Americans in general? Is this really the way your society wants to be portrayed -- a big bunch of bullies and braggarts? And where is the rest of the Yale community? Are you satisfied with the way the greater Yale community appears by the unethical practices of this Yale society? Try, even for a few moments, to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Ask yourselves how you would react if the Chiricahuas took the suggestion of #19 and swiped the remains of Mr. Prescott Bush? Two wrongs certainly don't make one right, but it is still a valid consideration. Grow up and do the right thing already!

  • Anonymous

    I hate it when non-Yalies suddenly flood the comments. Everything is poorly spelled and over-capitalized.

  • Yale08

    The skull is there. It's been there all along. A member of S&B revealed this to me and showed it to me two years ago. Is there any way to contact the people or lawyers bringing forward the lawsuit? If the YDN knows, please post the contact information here. Because I would happily provide this testimony if it helps them recover what rightfully belongs to them. And I'm sure I'm not the only so I urge others who have been told about/shown the skull, to come forward and not be afraid to tell the truth.

  • Anonymous

    There have been Native Americans in Skull and Bones. What do they think of this?

  • ?

    #23, besides being a backstabbing traitor, is willing to jump (shouting, "Geronimooooo!") perhaps on the lawsuit bandwagon with absolutely no proof that the skull, if it exists as he says, is indeed a)real or b)Geronimo's.

    I love how he runs forward, "ooh ooh Mistah Kottair, ooh ooh" all happy to throw Yale & Yalies under the bus.

    I am not outraged that #23 is a traiter per se, but that he is so ready, so willing, so downright eager to show his loyalty to The Party.

  • y07

    There are going to be a LOT of discovery motions against a LOT of societies, and a lot of requests for court orders to DNA test a LOT of skulls, sounds like. Everyone claims to have the S&B (read: G's) skull. God, that's so awkward. Stupid Yalies.

  • @Stacey and Co.

    Silly barbarians. You know not of what you speak.

  • Yale08

    Yes #25, I am more than happy to do what's RIGHT. Unlike S&B, others who have known for years and even Yale officials who look the other way.

  • NoOneYouKnow

    It's spectacularly disrespectful and cruel for S&B to have kept the skull for so long. I wouldn't expect much from Prescott Bush's generation, but that the skull is still stolen is a stain on Yale's reputation as a place of enlightenment. Geronimo/Goyathlay was also a great military and resistance leader; I wonder what Yalies would say if Nathan Hale's skull was being used in childish pranks by, say, a smartass bunch of kids who become some of the most powerful people in the country. It's hard to draw a comparison, but you get the idea. It's shameful behavior.

  • Yale08

    Exactly #29. And some of these kids claim to be politically progressive and culturally aware yet the minute they become a Bonesman they (some of them) start defending the subterfuge. Cuz jacking off and pissing on the remains of someone's ancestor is so progressive of course.





  • Nipper

    Who cares what any of these secret societies say. They are located in America and they can be served a search warrant. If a skull is found in there, the whole freaking tomb ought to be leveled. What a disgusting freaking society this is any way you look at it. This looks bad for all who claim they are from Yale. I would never contract you, even the Satanists have more class.



  • MickeyJ

    "I hate it when non-Yalies suddenly flood the comments. Everything is poorly spelled and over-capitalized."

    Yeah, and I hate it when "Yalie"s continue running for elected office. They always fuck things up.

    You people have a way too high opinion of yourselves and your school.

  • @#35

    Give us some credit, pal. We don't just continually run for office, we continually run and WIN. Now please go back to your trailer and resume being bitter and in peace.

  • Anonymous

    You don't just continually run for office, and you don't just continually run and win, you continually run, win, and grind the prnciples of democracy and simple common sense under your heel. In your folly you have continued this process so that even you are not safe from your folly. Perhaps even you are beginning to see this.

  • Clankie

    Is this… like… a draft script for a South Park episode ?

  • Bones204

    There is a skull we call Geronimo. Pretty sure that it's not actually the remains of the famous Apache leader. Apparently Pat. Bush was very fond of bulls*** tall-tales.

  • Devin

    Can we not give S&B more press?



  • Anonymous

    actually, i think its a senior thesis written at Harvard.

  • Gabriela

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    check out our Facebook page!/pages/Say-NO-to-First-Niagara/185404671495550
    looking forward to seeing you this coming week – gabriela

  • spicton

    why dont they do a DNA test of the skull and one of his decendants and see if its even Geronimo’s skull or not?