Yale, Skull and Bones, and the Federal Government Sued By Geronimo’s Family: Complications

I recently wrote about a lawsuit filed against Yale, Skull and Bones, and the Federal Government by descendents of Geronimo. The situation has become a little more complicated.

According to a story in the Las Cruces Sun-News other members of the family are against the repatriation attempt by Harlyn Geronimo:

Lariat Geronimo, 39, of Mescalero, said Thursday he is a great-grandson of Geronimo, and his immediate family members are the true descendants of the warrior. He said they oppose an attempt by Harlyn Geronimo of Mescalero, who also claims to be a great-grandson of the warrior, to move the remains.
Lariat Geronimo alleged Harlyn Geronimo doesn’t have a valid claim as a blood relative and has filed the repatriation lawsuit to gain publicity for himself.
“Everybody from the original Geronimos are going to fight this; this is a form of identify theft, and we’re going to fix it,” Lariat Geronimo said during a phone interview. “My family, the true descendants, never considered (Harlyn Geronimo) family.”

There are a couple of issues involved. First, although the Skull and Bones society may, or may not, be in possession of Geronimo’s skull and femurs, the rest of his remains are still at Ft. Sill. Harlyn Geronimo wishes to have all the remains, including those at Ft. Sill, reburied in New Mexico. This has lead to the possible involvement of the Ft. Sill Apaches:

Houser said he still opposes Geronimo’s Oklahoma gravesite being disturbed, but the Fort Sill Apaches would have deferred to Geronimo’s blood relatives, if they all agreed about what should be done with the remains. But because there’s a dispute among the descendants, he said he feels the Fort Sill Apaches should have the final say.
“If the lineal descendants don’t agree, then it would be the responsibility of the (Fort Sill Apache) tribe, given that it’s a tribal cemetery and the remains are there,” he said.

The second issue is one of kinship – something someone with a better knowledge of the Apache will have to comment on. Here is where the kinship classification comes in:

Houser said both Lariat Geronimo and Harlyn Geronimo have ties to the historic Apache warrior. Lariat Geronimo descended from Robert Geronimo, “who, from what our records indicate, was the brother of Harlyn Geronimo’s grandmother,” he said.
According to the lawsuit, Harlyn Geronimo’s grandmother was Lenna, daughter of Geronimo and his wife, Ih-Tedda, also known as Kate.

The Apache are, or were, or could still partially be, a matrilineal society. How they would classify Robert and Lenna and their families, in terms of kinship is an interesting question…

Lariat Geronimo also sent a Feb. 19 letter to the leadership of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, asking it for help in providing documents showing Geronimo’s lineage.

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