Geronimo is one of the most important Native American Leaders in American History, and in death he has become a symbol of resistance and self-determination.
Born a member of the Apache Tribe, his birth name was “Goyahkla”, which means “One Who Yawns.”
Although his grandfather was an Apache Chief, and he became a great leader of Warriors, he was never a Tribal Chief himself.
He got the moniker ‘Geronimo’ from Spanish soldiers who had frequent skirmishes with the Apache in Mexico.
When Geronimo reached manhood, he married a woman named Alope with whom he had 3 children.
Tragically, his entire family was killed during a Mexican raid which instilled a bitter hatred for the Spanish in Geronimo.
The Apache continued raids into Mexico during the Mexican-American War, until 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War.
The United States then made the Gadsden Purchase in 1854 which was for the stretch of land that forms Mexico’s border with present-day Arizona and part of New Mexico with the intention of expanding the Transcontinental railway line into the Southwest.
However, the purchase encroached into Apache lands and this led to conflict between the Apache and the new American Government.
The U.S. Army was relentless in its pursuit and determination to conquer the Apache and place them in Reservations much like they had already done with other Native American Nations like the Sioux.
Eventually Geronimo and his band of Apache were captured and sent to the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona in 1886.
Although he made three attempts to escape from the reservation, Geronimo eventually gave up on the last attempt, bringing an end to the Apache’s organized resistance against the U.S. government.
Geronimo was sent to Fort Pickens in Florida, where he was imprisoned and treated as tourist attraction in a Cowboy Fair attraction where he played the role of an Indian Hunter until his tragic death from Pneumonia in February 1909.
In The Indian Wars, the story of the conquest of Native American Nations is told echoing the legends of Indian Heroes like Geronimo who have now been lost to the mists of time.