Geronimo (aka Goyathlay)


Chief: Geronimo (Bedonkohe Apache Leader: aka Goyathlay)

Born: June 16, 1829 near Turkey Creek (Gila River), Apache land contested by Mexico, and currently known as New Mexico

Died: February 17, 1909 Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Nationality: Apache

Geronimo was an Apache leader who belonged to the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. He was not considered a chief among the Apache people, but was known as an infamous leader with a warrior spirit that conducted raids and warfare. Geronimo was a symbol of Native American resistance to both the United States and Mexican military. He acquired a reputation as being a fearless fighter who wreaked havoc and vengeance on Mexican troops, because they had murdered his entire family that included his wife, children and mother. 

Many of Geronimo’s raids and combats were in the period of the Apache-American conflict that generated from white settlers occupying on Apache lands after the war ended with Mexico in 1848. Initially the warfare began with the older Apache-Mexican conflict, and then the Apache-American conflict.  During the years of 1850 to 1886 raids and retaliation had become the normal way life between the Apaches and Mexicans and later Apaches and Americans.  Raids consisted of stealing livestock for economic purposes, and the capture and killing of victims from all sides. Geronimo established a strong resistance to his many enemies that lasted for over 30 years. His relentless fighting power earned him notoriety of the worst kind among some of his own people the Chiricahua tribe, and also Mexican and US military.

Geronimo eventually did surrender in 1886, and was held prisoner of war in camps located in Florida, Alabama and lastly Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In his later years Geronimo converted to Christianity, because he thought it was a better religion than his own. He also sold autographed photos of himself, and had the honor of riding on a horse in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905. Geronimo was never allowed to return to his tribe or homeland, and died at the hospital in Fort Sill in 1909. His legacy lived on because in 2011 U.S. military that killed Osama Bin Laden was code-named Geronimo. 

Resources about Geronimo:

Geronimo. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 27, 2017 from Wikipedia.

Utley, Robert M. Geronimo New Haven, Yale University Press, 2012.

Angie Debo. Geronimo: the man, his time, his place. Norman University of Oklahoma Press, 1976.

Chief Joseph (aka Heinmot Tooyalakekt)