Geronimo Apache warrior was one of the greatest Native American chiefs of all time and a symbol of resistance in the face of oppression.
Born in Mexico in 1829, Geronimo lived the nomadic lifestyle customary of Southwestern Apaches during the period. As part of the Chiricahua tribe, he took part in raids against enemies, Mexican soldiers, Navajo and Comanches against overwhelming odds.
However, it was a great tragedy that would come to define Geronimo as the warrior chief. The Mexican government had put a price on Apache scalps, paying vigilantes $25 per scalp.
While Gernimo was out on a trading trip, Mexican soldiers attacked his camp, murdering Geronimo’s mother, wife and three children.
Legend has it Geronimo set fire to his loved ones and ventured out into the woods alone to grieve. It was in the woods a voice came to him saying, “no gun will ever kill you. I will take bullets from the guns of the Mexicans and I will Guide your arrows.”
Geonino, Apache warrior, put together a band of roughly 200 men and set out to exact revenge on the soldiers who butchered his family. He didn’t stop for more than a decade, launching raids on Mexican forces, striking swiftly and with deadly results.
When the United States took control of large sections of Mexico following the Mexican-American War, Geronimo found no reprieve, just a new enemy with lighter skin.
As more settlers headed west to find gold and other riches, Apaches found themselves being driven out of their lands and tensions grew between the tribes and American settlers.
Geronimo was furious when the United States government failed to live up to an accord stuck between American officials and Geronimo’s father-in-law, Cochise, taking back a plot of reservation land and uprooting Apaches and moving them north.
Angered that American settlers were now able to take over what was once Apache land, Geronimo launched a new round of attacks, this time against Americans and American soldiers. He was captured in 1877 and sent to a reservation, where he would escape again in 1881.
For roughly five more years, Geronimo would evade soldiers and fight what are now considered the final battles between the U.S. government and Native Americans. At one point, more than 5,000 Army troops were actively trying to track down Geronimo’s small band of 36 men.
His elusiveness made the front page of newspapers across the country, making him a celebrity with the American public.
Geronimo Apache warrior finally surrendered in 1886 and was the last of his Chiricahua tribe to do so.
Geronimo and his band would live out their days as prisoners of war, being moved from Texas, to Fort Pickens in Florida and eventually Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
His celebrity grew and Geronimo would appear at fairs and sell photographs of himself and other souvenirs. He rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905 and was granted permission by the president to publish his autobiography.
Geronimo died in 1909 after being thrown from his horse and becoming extremely ill for a number of of days. On his deathbed, Geronimo Apache warrior confessed that he regretted his decision to surrender and wished he’d fought to the bitter end.