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The Indiana Law Library Blog

The Remains of a Legend

The descendants of famed Apache warrior Geronimo have filed a suit against the federal government to obtain his remains.  The suit mentions not only President Obama and other highly placed government officials, but also Yale University and the Skull and Bones society.  After many years of U.S. and Mexican expansion, Geronimo was captured in 1886.  After many years as a U.S. prisoner, and something of a celebrity, he died of pneumonia in Oklahoma in 1909, where he was interred.  Legend has is that members of the Skull and Bones later took his skull, some bones, and a few other souvenirs back to their clubhouse.  Skull and Bones denies that it has the remains.

Now his relatives wish to return his remains to New Mexico, where he was born.  They are consequently suing under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which is designed to protect the rights of Native Americans to the remains of their family members. The U.S. has moved to dismiss the claim, saying that the law only applies to remains that have been disturbed since 1990.  Should the bones be restored?  For more, take a look at the stories at the Associated Press, the BBC, and Yale Daily News.  For an older look, you can check out the New York Times article from when the case began.

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