FORT SILL, Okla. -- An effort to move the grave of famed Chief Geronimo has Apaches divided between two sets of traditions.
One group -- the White Mountain Tribe -- wants Geronimo's remains moved to a 'good hunting ground' in his native Arizona, where he longed to return during 23 years as a prisoner of war.
The other - including his five living descendants -- points to tribal custom that says you don't disturb the dead, ever.
The White Mountain Apaches, convinced Geronimo did not receive a proper burial at Fort Sill, are trying to have his remains moved by 1986, the 100th anniversary of his surrender to Gen. Nelson Miles.
'I know this is taboo to Apaches to bother the dead,' said Arizona Apache culture center director Edgar Perry, whose proposal has gained support from Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbit.
'But our idea is that Geronimo is not in his good hunting ground. His good hunting ground is in Arizona.'
Geronimo and his band of Chiricahua Apache carried on guerilla war against the United States for more than a decade, striking from a base in Mexico, until his surrender to Miles.
He brought his band with him to Fort Sill, in south central Oklahoma, where he died in 1909. The survivors and descendants of that band are dead set against the idea of moving him.
'I refuse,' said Ouida Geronimo Miller, the chief's granddaughter. 'Absolutely not. Nobody's touching him. He's remaining there.'
If the White Mountain band presses its case, the Oklahoma State Historical Preservation office would be called on to decide the issue. And officials say they're just not ready.
'In short, I don't have a good answer for it,' said OSHP planner Sandra Stratton.