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Geronimo (1829-1909)

Geronimo (1829-1909)

Apache war leader

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A Living Legend. Geronimo was one of the most famous Native American leaders of the late nineteenth century. He has earned a reputation in American history as the ultimate holdout, a renegade willing to fight for his freedom long after many of his people had accepted defeat. His tribe, the Apache, lived in present-day Arizona and New Mexico. A group of nomadic bands that relied upon hunting for their subsistence, they were considered one of the most warlike tribes in the Southwest. In fact, the tribes name was derived from the Zuni word apachu, meaning enemy.

Early Life. Geronimo was born near present-day Clifton, Arizona, in 1829. His Indian name was Gokhlayeh or One Who Yawns. Why the Mexicans called him Geronimo (Spanish for Jerome) is not certain. Some believe it was a Spanish attempt to pronounce the name Gokhlayeh. Others maintain that his enemies prayed aloud to Saint Jerome whenever the Apache leader struck. In 1846 he gained admittance into the warriors council of the Chiricahua Apache and started to lead raids on Mexican and American settlers, stealing their horses. He quickly became known for his cunning and ferocity. A fellow warrior observed that Geronimo seemed to be the most intelligent and resourceful as well as the most vigorous and farsighted. In times of danger he was a man to be relied upon. When Mexican soldiers killed his mother, wife, and three children in 1858, Geronimo swore vengeance and for the next nineteen years conducted many raids into Mexico. In April 1877 American authorities apprehended the Apache leader and placed him on the San Carlos Indian Reservation.

Reservation Life. The United States had acquired the Apache homeland by treaties with Mexico in 1848 and 1853. In 1872 the federal government established the San Carlos Reservation on the banks of the Gila River in eastern Arizona. The five-thousand-square-mile tract became known as Hells Forty Acres by all who resided there. Sandstorms blew frequently across a landscape of cactus, mesquite, and cottonwood trees. The temperature in the summer regularly reached 110 degrees. By the 1880s the government had forcibly placed on this barren wasteland approximately five thousand Apache, hoping to turn these people into self-sufficient farmers. The Apache, however, refused to plow the fields or to dig irrigation trenches. Instead, they relied on weekly food rations of flour and beef from the U.S. Army and the Office of Indian Affairs. Civilian contractors who distributed beef for the government cheated the Indians out of fifteen hundred pounds per week. Reservation authorities made the Apache organize a police force and set up courts. Traditional ceremonies and practices were banned, including the brewing of tiswin, a beer made from corn. The greatest hardship on the reservation, however, proved to be boredom. Women and children tried to keep busy by gathering bundles of hay that they sold at a penny a pound for cavalry horses. The men, meanwhile, had little to do except play traditional games and brood.

Flight. In 1880 white squatters and miners started to appear on reservation lands, where deposits of copper, coal, and silver had been discovered. The next year an Apache shaman named Noch-ay-del-klinne began to preach that dead Apache leaders would arise and reassert the tribes greatness. When reservation police tried to arrest the mystic, he was shot and killed in a scuffle. Fearing that he, too, would be arrested, Geronimo fled to Mexico with seventy-four followers. For the next two years his band eluded capture and raided American territory. In March 1883 the renegades killed three white men outside of Tombstone, Arizona; a few days later they killed a federal judge and his wife. Meanwhile, the American and Mexican governments negotiated an agreement whereby soldiers of either nation could cross the border when pursuing the renegades. Believing that he needed an Apache to capture an Apache, American Gen. George Crook enlisted 193 Apache scouts who tracked down Geronimo in May. Crook convinced him to return to San Carlos, but the Apache leader again became disenchanted with reservation life. In May 1885 he went on a spree of drinking corn beer in direct defiance of reservation policy and then decamped with forty-two men and ninety-two women and children. Throughout the winter 1885-1886 Crook gave chase with three thousand troops. In March 1886 he found the fugitives, but this time they were not so willing to return to the reservation. Crook observed that they were in superb physical condition, armed to the teeth, fierce as so many tigers. On a dark and rainy night Geronimo slipped away with twenty warriors and eighteen women and children.

An Emissary. After an immense public outcry against him, Crook resigned. His replacement, Gen. Nelson Miles, had orders to capture or destroy. Miles had five thousand troops and built thirty heliograph stations consisting of large mirrors to flash Morse code messages across southeastern Arizona and into northern Sonora, Mexico. Troops guarded the springs and passes of the Sierra Madre to prevent the renegades from moving about. Miles, like Crook, found his Apache adversary to be an elusive foe. (An Apache warrior could travel as far as seventy miles per day over rough terrain.) In April 1886 the renegades killed some ranchers and ambushed an army detachment. Miles became so exasperated that he tried a different strategy. He dispatched Lt. Charles Gatewood by himself to find Geronimo and convince him to return to the reservation. Gatewood, who had served at San Carlos for two years, had met Geronimo on several occasions. In late August Gatewood found Geronimo, who was impressed by the officers poise and courage. When Gatewood told the Apache war leader that his remaining family members had been exiled to Florida, Geronimo lost all heart and surrendered.

Exile. Geronimo never saw his homeland again. From 1886 until 1888 he was imprisoned in Pensacola, Florida. In 1894 federal authorities allowed him to take up residence at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he spent his time making and selling bows and arrows and peddling photographs of himself. In 1901 Geronimo marched in the parade of President Theodore Roosevelts inauguration, and three years later he appeared at the Worlds Fair in Saint Louis. In 1906 he dictated his autobiography. Following a drinking spree in 1909, Geronimo fell from his horse, lay on the chilled ground all night, and died of pneumonia shortly thereafter.

Sources

S. M. Barrett, ed., Geronimos Story of His Life (New York: Duffield, 1906);

Benjamin Capps, The Great Chiefs (Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, 1975);

Robert M. Utley, Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891 (New York: Macmillan, 1973).

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Geronimo

Geronimo

The career of Apache warrior Geronimo (1829-1909) was symbolic of the struggle for a Native American way of life in conflict with that of the advancing American frontiersmen.

Geronimo was born in No-doyohn Canyon in Arizona in June 1829. As he grew to manhood, he was apparently indolent, for he was called Goyakla, "He Who Yawns." In 1858 his mother, wife, and three children were killed by Mexican bounty hunters, seeking scalps. "I could not call back my loved ones, I could not bring back the dead Apaches, but I could rejoice in … revenge," he later declared. During the next 15 years he rose steadily as a war leader among the Apaches. Apache agent John Clum, who arrested Geronimo in 1877, described him as "erect as a mountain pine, while every outline of his symmetrical form indicated strength and endurance. His abundant ebony locks draped his ample shoulders, his stern features, his keen piercing eye, and his proud and graceful posture combined to create in him the model of an Apache war-chief."

Forced onto the reservation at San Carlos in Arizona, Geronimo was a minor leader in the 1881 Apache outbreak. Gen. George Crook pursued the Apaches and forced them to return. In 1885 they fled San Carlos again, angry at being cheated on their rations and unhappy with rules which forbade many of their tribal customs; Geronimo led the renegades. Pursued by American and Mexican troops, the Apaches nevertheless conducted numerous raids on both sides of the international boundary. In 1886 they met to discuss surrender terms but reneged and escaped again.

For 4 months these 39 renegades were pursued by 5,000 American soldiers, an equal number of Mexican troops, plus many bounty hunters, but they never were forced into battle. In September, Geronimo agreed to surrender to Gen. Nelson A. Miles on the condition that after 2 years' imprisonment he would be returned to Arizona. President Grover Cleveland ignored these terms, however. Geronimo and his followers were imprisoned at Ft. Pickens, Fla. In 1894, moved to Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, they were interred as prisoners of war, although allowed to prosper as farmers.

Geronimo later toured with a "Wild West" show, was an "attraction" at the Omaha and Buffalo expositions, and was exhibited at the St. Louis World's Fair (1904). He died at Ft. Sill in 1909, still a prisoner of war.

Further Reading

Geronimo's reminiscences, Geronimo's Story of His Life, were recorded and edited by S. M. Barrett in 1906. The best account of Geronimo's career by one of his contemporaries is John G. Bourke, On the Border with Crook (1891). More recent and comprehensive is O. B. Faulk, The Geronimo Campaign (1969). □

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Geronimo

Geronimo (jərŏn´əmō´), c.1829–1909, leader of a Chiricahua group of the Apaches, b. Arizona. As a youth he participated in the forays of Cochise, Victorio, and other Apache leaders. When the Chiricahua Reservation was abolished (1876) and the Apaches removed to the arid San Carlos Agency in New Mexico, Geronimo led a group of followers into Mexico. He was soon captured and returned to the new reservation, where he farmed for a while. In 1881 he escaped again with a group (including a son of Cochise) and led raids in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. He surrendered (1883) to forces under Gen. George Crook and was returned to the reservation. In 1885 he again left, and after almost a year of war he agreed to surrender to Crook, but at the last minute Geronimo fled. His escape led to censure of Crook's policy. Late in 1886, Geronimo and the remainder of his forces surrendered to Gen. Nelson Appleton Miles, Crook's successor. They were deported as prisoners of war to Florida; contrary to an agreement, they were not allowed to take their families with them. After a further period in prison in Alabama, Geronimo was placed under military confinement at Fort Sill, Okla., where he settled down, adopted Christianity, and became a prosperous farmer. He became a national celebrity when he appeared at the St. Louis World's Fair and in Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural procession. He dictated his autobiography to S. M. Barrett (1906, repr. 1970).

See biographies by A. B. Adams (1971), A. Debo (1976), and R. M. Utley (2012); studies by B. Davis (1929, repr. 1963), J. Bigelow (1958, repr. 1968), and O. B. Faulk (1969).

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Geronimo

Geronimo (1823?–1909), Apache Indian leader.To North Americans and Mexicans of the 1870s and 1880s, Geronimo personalized the horrors of Apache warfare. Never a chief, and despised by many of his people, he nonetheless attained leadership through mastery of the partisan fighting style that baffled U.S. and Mexican troops. In cunning, stealth, endurance, perseverance, ruthlessness, fortitude, fighting skill, and command of the harsh conditions of his homeland, he excelled. With small followings, he alternated between reservation life in Arizona and raids from Mexico's Sierra Madre. In 1882, Brig. Gen. George Crook, relying heavily on Apache scouts and pack mules, penetrated the Sierra Madre and obtained Geronimo's surrender. In 1885, however, Geronimo again took refuge in Mexico. Again Crook and his scouts pursued, and again Geronimo surrendered. But he had second thoughts, and fled to the mountains.

Crook, his methods under fire from Washington, asked to be relieved. Brig. Gen. Nelson A. Miles took his place, but eventually had to adopt Crook's unorthodox approach. Geronimo surrendered to Miles at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, on 4 September 1886. Confined in Florida, Alabama, and finally near Fort Sill in present‐day Oklahoma, he became a celebrity in parades and expositions. Pneumonia took his life in his eighty‐sixth year.

Bibliography

Angie Debo , Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place, 1976.

Robert M. Utley

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Geronimo

Geronimo (c.1829–1909), Apache chief. He led his people in resistance to white encroachment on tribal reservations in Arizona before surrendering in 1886.

His name is used as an exclamation to express exhilaration, especially when leaping from a great height or moving at speed. The expression dates from the Second World War, and was adopted as a slogan by American paratroopers.

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"Geronimo." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/geronimo

Geronimo

Geronimo (1829–1908) Chief of the Chiricahua Apaches. He led his tribe against white settlers in Arizona for more than ten years. In 1886, he surrendered his tribe to General Miles, and they were taken to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He became a farmer and national celebrity.

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Geronimo

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