Thursday, September 4, 2008

Native American Warriors: Geronimo

Geronimo (far right in photo) was born in 1829 in what is today western New Mexico, but was then still Mexican territory. He was a Bedonkohe Apache by birth. His wife Juh, was a Chiricahua Apache. He was the leader of the last American Indian fighting force to surrender to the U. S. government. Because he fought so bravely and held out the longest, he became the most famous Apache of all. To the pioneers and settlers of the region he was a bloody-handed killer. To the Apaches, he was a courageous hero.

The Chiricahuas were mostly nomads, hunting and farming according to the seasons. At the time American settlers arrived, the Spanish controlled the area. The Spanish wanted Indian slaves and Christian converts. In 1858 when Geronimo returned home from a trip to Mexico he found his wife, his mother and his three young children murdered by Spanish troops. From that day on he hated whites and vowed to terrorize Mexican settlements using the power which came to him in visions. Geronimo was a medicine man.

In 1876 the Chiricahua were forced into an Indian reservation in eastern Arizona. Geronimo escaped with warriors to Mexico but was arrested and returned to the reservation. For much of the 1870s he and his second wife Juh would live peacefully there. Then 1876 the U.S. Army tried to move the Chiricahuas into another reservation. Geronimo fled to Mexico where he would return to fight U.S. troops for a decade. The U.S. government would use over 5,000 soldiers, one-quarter of the entire Army, and 500 scouts, and perhaps up to 3,000 Mexican soldiers to track down Geronimo and his band.

Then in May 1882, Apache scouts working for the U.S. army surprised Geronimo in his mountain sanctuary, and he agreed to return with his people to the reservation, but after a year of farming, the sudden arrest and imprisonment of an Apache warrior caused Geronimo to flee on May 17, 1885, with 35 warriors and 109 women, children and youths. In January 1886, Apache scouts found Juh's hideout and threatened to kill her if he did not surrender. So on Sept. 4, 1886 he surrendered to Gen. Nelson Miles. The government breached its agreement and transported Geronimo and nearly 450 Apache men, women, and children to confinement in Forts Marion, Florida.

In 1894 they were moved to Fort Sill in Oklahoma. One year later many of them were relocated to the Mt. Vernon barracks in Alabama, where about one quarter died from tuberculosis and other diseases. Geronimo remained in Oklahoma where he became a rancher, appeared in 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, sold Geronimo souvenirs, and rode in President Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 inaugural parade. He died on Feb. 17, 1909, a prisoner of war, unable to return to his homeland. He was buried in an Apache cemetery in Fort Sill in Oklahoma.Find out more about this Native America and others at:

Research info gathered at:

Now, here's one of my poems that knows how to pow-wow:

Unpredictable Velocity

Expect a rough ride & plan on landing hard:

or it might be cross-eyed stairs you
can't climb or an amp that goes up to
fifteen. You may have to muscle pass
aimless grease or sneak-in the snaking
line round the block. Then, perhaps
it'll appear as a fingernail clipping of
some spinster or a fine feather floating
in chicken broth. In its shaky claim to
the future it might put on a bathrobe
with saggy sleeves or a nurse's uniform
with scuffed white shoes. In any case,
the story line's the same. The restraining
order is still issued to the stockbroker
while he dines at a buffet. The glint you
see is still a mirror or a glass eye. And the
figurative line in the sand's just a coil of
razor wire. So don't count on a cozy
retirement-plan. Just try to enjoy your
bit-part while your helmet still rattles &
fogs away in a craggy mischance.

Poem first published at:
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Poem Copyright 2008 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.


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