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Bush's Own Bones
Among the traditional artifacts collected and maintained within the High Street Tomb are human remains of various derivations. The following concerns one such set of Skull and Bones.
Geronimo, an Apache faction leader and warrior, led a party of warriors on a raid in 1876, after Apaches were moved to the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona territory. He led other raids against U.S. and Mexican forces well into the 1880s; he was captured and escaped many times.
Geronimo was finally interned at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He became a farmer and joined a Christian congregation. He died at the age of 79 years in 1909, and was buried at Fort Sill. Three-quarters of a century later, his tribesmen raised the question of getting their famous warrior reinterred back in Arizona.
Ned Anderson was Tribal Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe from 1978 to 1986. This is the story he tells@s8:
Around the fall of 1983, the leader of an Apache group in another section of Arizona said he was interested in having the remains of Geronimo returned to his tribe's custody. Taking up this idea, Anderson said that the remains properly belonged to his group as much as to the other Apaches. After much discussion, several Apache groups met at a kind of summit meeting held at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The army authorities were not favorable to the meeting, and it only occurred through the intervention of the office of the Governor of Oklahoma.
As a result of this meeting, Ned Anderson was written up in the newspapers as an articulate Apache activist. Soon afterwards, in late 1983 or early 1984, a Skull and Bones member contacted Anderson and leaked evidence that Geronimo's remains had long ago been pilfered--by Prescott Bush, George's father. The informant said that in May of 1918, Prescott Bush and five other officers at Fort Sill desecrated the grave of Geronimo. They took turns watching while they robbed the grave, taking items including a skull, some other bones, a horse bit and straps. These prizes were taken back to the Tomb, the home of the Skull and Bones Society at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut. They were put into a display case, which members and visitors could easily view upon entry to the building.
The informant provided Anderson with photographs of the stolen remains, and a copy of a Skull and Bones log book in which the 1918 grave robbery had been recorded. The informant said that Skull and Bones members used the pilfered remains in performing some of their Thursday and Sunday night rituals, with Geronimo's skull sitting out on a table in front of them.
Outraged, Anderson traveled to New Haven. He did some investigation on the Yale campus and held numerous discussions, to learn what the Apaches would be up against when they took action, and what type of action would be most fruitful.
Through an attorney, Ned Anderson asked the FBI to move into the case. The attorney conveyed to him the Bureau's response: If he would turn over every scrap of evidence to the FBI, and completely remove himself from the case, they would get involved. He rejected this bargain, since it did not seem likely to lead toward recovery of Geronimo's remains.
Due to his persistence, he was able to arrange a September 1986 Manhattan meeting with Jonathan Bush, George Bush's brother. Jonathan Bush vaguely assured Anderson that he would get what he had come after, and set a followup meeting for the next day. But Bush stalled--Anderson believes this was to gain time to hide and secure the stolen remains against any possible rescue action.
The Skull and Bones attorney representing the Bush family and managing the case was Endicott Peabody Davison. His father was the F. Trubee Davison mentioned above, who had been president of New York's American Museum of Natural History, and personnel director for the Central Intelligence Agency. The general attitude of this Museum crowd has long been that ``Natives'' should be stuffed and mounted for display to the Fashionable Set.
Finally, after about 11 days, another meeting occurred. A display case was produced, which did in fact match the one in the photograph the informant had given to Ned Anderson. But the skull he was shown was that of a ten-year-old child, and Anderson refused to receive it or to sign a legal document promising to shut up about the matter.
Anderson took his complaint to Arizona Congressmen Morris Udahl and John McCain III, but with no results. George Bush refused Congressman McCain's request that he meet with Anderson.
Anderson wrote to Udahl, enclosing a photograph of the wall case and skull at the ``Tomb,'' showing a black and white photograph of the living Geronimo, which members of the Order had boastfully posted next to their display of his skull.