Peter Leman

Colloquium: Peter Leman

Date(s) - 02/11/2021
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


This week’s colloquium will be held on Thursday, February 11th at 3:00 pm via Zoom. Peter Leman, Associate Professor of English, will discuss his effort to locate the missing skull of his ancestor, the great 19th-century Apache leader Mangas Coloradas. Mangas, or “Red Sleeves,” was considered the most important figure in Apacheria in his day, fighting tirelessly alongside Cochise, Geronimo, and others to protect their people and land from American colonial incursions. A diplomat as well as a warrior, Mangas tried to negotiate an end to the fighting in 1863, but the U.S. military betrayed and murdered him. The next day, an Army surgeon beheaded Mangas and took his skull for “further study,” a spiritually destructive act that, according to Geronimo, was “the greatest of wrongs” ever committed against the Apache. Peter’s search for Mangas’s skull has taken him from Utah to Arizona, New Mexico, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New Haven, and may yet take him to Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., and possibly even London, Berlin, and Toledo. Along the way, he has gathered evidence from archives; uncovered an unusual corpus of films, poems, and songs memorializing Mangas and his skull; and encountered a cast of fascinating characters including unabashed collectors of human remains, a U.S. Marine named Mangas Coloradas, a Northern Irish poet who considers Mangas a “personal hero,” an FBI Special Agent, a highly encouraging psychic named “Mystic Dylan,” the mayor of a haunted Midwest town, and the surprisingly garrulous caretaker of an infamous Yale secret society rumored to possess a stolen Apache skull.

Title: “Searching for the Skull of Mangas Coloradas” 

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