Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Geronimo, was born on this day in 1829 near the present day town of Clifton, in southeastern Arizona.  He was the fourth of eight children, four boys and four girls, and was named Goyathlay — "one who yawns." He was received into the Council of Warriors when he was 17, which meant he was now allowed to marry, which he did, and the young couple had three children, by and by. His life seemed headed down a peaceful, uneventful path.

In 1858, Goyathlay and his family traveled with the rest of their tribe down to Old Mexico, where they set up a temporary camp. The women and children stayed behind in the camp while the men — with the exception of a few guards — left to hunt and trade. On the men's return, they discovered that Mexican troops had attacked the camp, stealing their horses, weapons, and supplies and killing not only the guards but also many of the women and children as well. Goyathlay lost his mother, his wife, and all of his children in the attack. He also left behind his peaceful life and became a fierce warrior, conducting numerous raids in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. He was so fearless in his attacks that the Mexican soldiers cried out to their patron, St. Jerome, for aid: "Cuidado! Geronimo!" It became a battle cry for Apaches, and Goyathlay's new name.

Why did he fight?

Geronimo was a member of the Chiricahua Apache tribe whose homelands in the deserts of New Mexico were annexed first by Mexico and later by the United States during its expansion into the south-west during the 19th century. His insurgency was part of a wider rebellion by Native Indians against their treatment by white settlers, who carried out what in modern terms might be called ethnic cleansing: removing tribes from ancestral territories and (in some cases) placing a bounty on their scalps. Geronimo's success was down to old-fashioned derring-do, and sheer good luck. Because of repeated close shaves with mortality, many followers believed he was resistant to bullets. His men were adept at using their opponents' technology – including rifles and pistols – against them.

How was he captured?

After more than 30 years the US General Nelson Miles tracked Geronimo to Arizona. The rebels were exhausted after decades on the run, and their number had dwindled to just 36 men, many of whom (including their leader) had taken to heavy drinking. In the autumn of 1886, Geronimo negotiated a tactical surrender, agreeing to lay down his arms on condition that his followers would be allowed to disband and return home to their families. But the US reneged on its promises, and promptly took Geronimo and his troops into custody. They spent seven years in prison in Alabama before being transferred to Fort Sill, where they lived out the rest of their days in a form of open prison.


Mystic Meandering said...

So who was the *real* terrorist here... those who cause the trauma, the violence, or those who stand up for themselves and fight back - as apparently Geronimo did... Who is the*real* terrorist when we have separated children from their families and keep them in detention centers in terrible conditions being abused... You don't hear that on the evening news anymore, unless you watch cable network news... We are still committing atrocities against mankind while most never hear about it...

Dean Keller said...

yes, always the question. what turns children and co-workers into shooters. what happens that moves young girl to fly across country to buy a gun and kill herself. How can we avoid the hurt, intervene and bring these sad alienated ones back into the circle of kinship and love. This seems like a job that's well suited for each of us. Tough things happen in life, we need each other.