Geronimo (Goyathlay), a Chiricahua Apache, kneels with rifle in this 1887 photograph taken by Ben Wittick.
The relatives of Apache chieftain Geronimo want his remains and they are fighting the United States government, a Yale secret society and Yale University to get them back.
But the government says it should be left out of the quest by Geronimo's descendants for the 100-year-old bones.
The U.S. Justice Department asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit Geronimo’s descendants filed in February for the right to move Geronimo’s remains from Fort Sill to a site near his birthplace in New Mexico, the Yale Daily News reports.
Geronimo died in 1909 from pneumonia while being held as a prisoner of war, so 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.
Also included in the suit are Yale University and the school's secret society, Skull and Bones, whom Geronmio's family claim took some of the remains in 1918 from a burial plot in Fort Sill, Okla., to keep in its New Haven clubhouse.
According to the Daily News, 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.
On June 10, the government filed a motion to oppose a lawsuit because “the plaintiffs’ demands do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,” according to the Yale Daily News.
The motion was filed on behalf of President Obama, Gates and Geren.
Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who is representing Geronimo’s family, told the Daily News they will continue their fight but would not take legal action against Yale or Skull and Bones until after opening the grave to see if any of the remains are missing.
But, questions remain as to why the federal government wants to keep Geronimo buried at Fort Sill, he told the paper.
“They’re still fighting the Indian wars, and they want to retain the remains of Geronimo to show that they won,” he said.
Members of the secret society include both Presidents Bush, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and many others in government and industry positions. Skull and Bones is unaffiliated with the university.