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Secret society, Skull and Bones, supposedly robbed Geronimo's grave

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Fort Sill tombstone of Geronimo
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FORT SILL, Okla. - A Chiricahua Apache on the run for most of his life, gained fame for baffling American troops and refusing the reservation life.

"His followers viewed him as the last great defender of the Native American way of life," according to biography.com. Eventually he and his followers yielded to the army. They were placed in prisons in Florida and Alabama and finally at Fort Sill.

Though he tried to get permission for his people to return to his home in Arizona, nothing happened. He died in 1909 soon after a fall from his horse and after suffering alone overnight in the cold before he was found.

"I should never have surrendered," Geronimo, still a prisoner of war, said on his deathbed. "I should have fought until I was the last man alive," states biography.com.

Stories of his fortitude live on. One bizarre story involves the robbing of his tomb located at Fort Sill's Prisoner of War Cemetery. A secret order of Yale University students, Skull and Bones, supposedly possess Geronimo's skull.

The order, though not affiliated with the university, has a long history and has included many notable members.

John Kerry, Presidents William Taft, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush  were members of this secret society began in 1832 and created by William H. Russell.

Club members socialize and discuss political and cultural issues in an establishment with an ominous name.

"Since 1856, they've assembled in a brown sandstone mausoleum known as the Tomb -- a crypt-like, windowless structure that non-members are forbidden to enter. Skeletons, skulls, and other ghoulish objects d'art adorn the interior walls, along with portraits of distinguished members," states a 2013 The Atlantic article.

One of those skulls is reported to be Geronimo's. When efforts were being made to move the body to Apache land in Arizona, a member of the society sent a letter to Ned Anderson who was in charge of the mission. The writer claimed that Geronimo's skull was encased in glass and on display at the Tomb. A photograph with the description was included.

A 1918 Skull and Bones logbook details the robbery of the grave by six Bonesmen. The skull, a leg bone, and Geronimo's horse bridle were taken in the robbery. Prescott Bush, George H. W. Bush's father is named in the account as one of the society diggers.

Attempts by Anderson to recover the grave contents by contacting the FBI and Bush family members failed.

Harlyn Geronimo, Geronimo's great grandson, and 20 descendants in 2009 sued to have the remains returned.

“If remains are not properly buried, the spirit is just wandering, wandering, until a proper burial has been performed,” said Harlyn Geronimo at a Washington press conference.

In 2010 the case was dismissed.

Whether the grave robbery is a hoax or not, the rallying cry for Geronimo's remains can still be heard.

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Roxann Perkins Yates

Roxann Perkins is a teacher, writer, poet, and an amateur smartphone photographer. She lives in...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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