Geronimo’s Fam Can’t Sue Feds, Yale Over Skull & Bones: Judge

By LeAnne Gendreau
|  Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010  |  Updated 4:41 PM EDT
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Geronimo’s Fam Can’t Sue Feds, Yale Over Skull & Bones: Judge

Ben Wittick

Geronimo (Goyathlay), a Chiricahua Apache, kneels with rifle in this 1887 photograph taken by Ben Wittick.

The battle between the descendants of Geronimo and a secret society at Yale University over the Apache warrior's bones is over.

Twenty of Geronimo's descendants claimed that the Yale Skull and Bones society, an exclusive secret group, stole some of their ancestor’s remains from a burial plot at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1918. 

The group filed a suit in federal court in Washington, D.C., last year, and last month Judge Richard Roberts dismissed the claims, saying the plaintiffs failed to establish that the government had waived its right not to be sued without its consent.

In the lawsuit, the family named President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of the Army Pete Geren as defendants because Geronimo’s remains are the property of the federal government.

Geronimo died in 1909, and his descendants want to rebury him near his New Mexico birthplace.

Judge Roberts also dismissed the lawsuit against Yale and their "secret" society, saying that the plaintiffs cited a law that only applies to Native American cultural items excavated or discovered after 1990.

It is rumored that Prescott Bush -- father of George H.W. Bush and grandfather to George W. Bush -- was involved in taking the remains from Geronimo’s grave and bringing them back to their society in New Haven, a claim that has been disputed for some time.

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