The Skull—and the Bones
By Marc Wortman
One of them straddles the grave of a Kiowa chief named Kicking Bird. It sits in a cemetery just a few hundred yards from the barracks where the Bonesmen were quartered. Spivey believes this was the grave they struck. I have my doubts. It’s so close to a main road that it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t have been observed.
The other site is three or four miles away—it’s the small Otipoby Comanche Cemetery, on a rise overlooking the prairie. A burial vault lies at its center. A modern stone marker next to it bears the words “Mark ‘Thomas’ Perconnic / Comanche Tribe / Son of Perconnic.” There’s evidence of past tampering: bricks now seal what once must have been a doorway. I suspect that the young men from Yale ended up here, having assumed that this very prominent grave must hold “the worthy Geronimo the Terrible.” If they took anything away, it was not Geronimo’s head. It was Tom’s.
Below: "Two burial vaults that the tomb raiders may have mistaken for Geronimo's. Left, the crypt of Kiowa chief Kicking Bird, in the Post Cemetery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Right, the tomb of Mark 'Thomas' Perconnic, in the Otipoby Comanche Cemetery, three or four miles away." (Marc Wortman)
Who is Harlyn Geronmio?
Another interesting aspect of the story is the role of Harlyn Geronimo. I've mentioned him before when the subject of Geronimo's bones came up. But now his story seems more suspect than it did before:
Whatever the nature of Harlyn’s kinship, he has certainly exploited the name. As Harlyn Geronimo, he has acted on television and been featured in documentaries. He has traveled to France and Germany, where fascination with America’s cowboys-and-Indians history is high. A book he co-authored, Sur les pas de Geronimo ( In the Footsteps of Geronimo ), was published in France in 2008. For his televised interviews and appearances at public events and festivals, (sometimes) on horseback he wears the type of feathered headdress used by the Plains Indians, not by the Apaches. When in Paris, you have to give the Parisians what they’re expecting. I have encountered Harlyn only once—in a shared television appearance in the aftermath of my discovery of the Winter Mead letter. His anger seemed genuine. I attempted to reach Harlyn many times over the course of several months, to ask him about the Ramsey Clark lawsuit, but he seemed always to be traveling in Europe, and unreachable. I finally contacted his brother Joseph, in Mescalero. Joseph was not interested in pursuing a conversation. What he in fact said was “I ain’t giving anything away for a handful of beads. Mail me a check, and if it’s enough and don’t bounce, I’ll talk.”
For more on the subject, see:
Geronimo vs. Geronimo Over Geronimo
Apaches don't want Geronimo moved
Geronimo sues Skull and Bones