Geronimo

Geronimo

(1829-1909)

His Indian name was Goyathlay, meaning, “He who yawns.” Geronimo was born in No- Doyohn Canyon, Mexico in 1829. His peo¬ ple, the Chiricahua Apache, had a long tradi¬ tion of fighting Spanish and, then, Mexican troops from the south.

Geronimo was admitted to his tribe’s Council ofWarriors in 1846. The turning point in his life came in 1851 when his moth¬ er, wife and children were killed in a Mexican surprise attack near Janos, Chihuahua.

Swearing eternal vengeance, Geronimo led a number of raids into Mexico. The ferocity of his attacks caused the Mexicans to call upon St. Jerome for protection. Their utterances of “Jerome, Jerome” led to the Indian warrior’s name “Geronimo.”

Meanwhile, American settlers had encroached on Apache land from the north and east. In 1871, a reservation was estab¬ lished in eastern Arizona for the Apache nation. Finding himself confined to a small locality, Geronimo broke the peace.

In 1874, he and the majority of his people were moved to the San Carlos Reservation on the Gila River in east-central Arizona.

The Apaches detested this barren wasteland, and Geronimo led guerrilla attacks against American settle¬ ments in the territory. Hundreds of Apaches chose to leave the reservation with him and conduct a war against the Americans.

Geronimo surrendered to American gener¬ al George Crook in January 1884. After being returned to the San Carlos reservation, he fled with 35 men, eight boys and 101 women in May 1885.

Again he conducted raids against both American and Mexican settlements. He was finally cornered by General Crook and surrendered at Canon de Los Embudos in Sonora, Mexico on March 27, 1886. As the Americans conducted their prisoners on a march to the United States, Geronimo and a few others bolted as they neared the U.S. bor-der. As a result of this escape, General Crook was replaced by General Nelson Miles.

Miles led 5,000 U.S. soldiers and some 500 Indian auxiliary troops in a year-long search for Geronimo. The Americans finally tracked the Apache leader to his camp in the Sonora mountains. There, Miles persuaded Geronimo to surrender on September 3,1886, with a promise that he would eventual¬ ly be allowed to return to his Arizona home¬ land.

The pledge was broken. Geronimo and his fellow warriors were taken to Florida and forced to do hard labor. They were transferred to Fort Sill in the Oklahoma Territory in 1894. Geronimo dictated his autobiography before he died of pneumonia in 1909. He had never been allowed to return to Arizona.