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Geronimo Essay, Research Paper

Go Khla Yeh, “One Who Yawns”, named Geronimo by the Mexican Army, was a dedicated Apache warrior. When one speaks of Indian war heroes, Geronimo is many times the first name uttered, especially when it comes down to pride, integrity, and the will for justice. He was born in No-doyohn Canyon, Arizona, in the year of 1829, as the grandson of an Nedni Apache chief. This Position was forfeited as his father married out of the tribe. As a young teen, his father passed away, thus the young Geronimo took his mother under his wing and was forced to find residence elsewhere, and fled to live with relatives.

This actually fleeing was a prominent transitional stage in the life of Geronimo. To gain admittance, Geronimo was ordered to lead a series of novice raids on the caravans of “White Eyes” (this being the nickname for Caucasian settlers). Because of the Gold Rush, masses of pioneers migrated across Apache land, and the Northern Apache weren’t too keen to letting the “gold infatuated” colonists desecrate their land. These strategic attacks, in 1848, were vital because they in a way spurred on a rebellious fire which was present in their hearts, and gave them confidence in the sense that the white man was defeatable. On the other hand, these attacks did pose a negative threat on Geronimo’s clan particularly because they began to get regarded as troublesome, thus causing undue attention from the federal government.

In 1850, tragedy hit Janos and Geronimo’s faction of the Apache tribe. While the men of the tribe were away at a village trading furs and blankets, Mexican cavalry massacred Geronimo’s entire family, including his wife, 3 children, and mother. The whole camp had been looted and defiled. Forced to leave the bodies to rot in the open sun, the Chief Mangus-Colorado told the survivors to seek refuge in Arizona. This again was another turning point in the life of the Apache warrior. Basically left with nothing else to live for, Geronimo’s viewpoint took a drastic turn. With rage churning like a fiery inferno, the Mexican army was now his new established prey. To compliment this hatred, he joined a war-motivated tribe known as the Chiricahua. This group was well known, and blood-thirst seemed to be their main motivating factor. Revenge and closure was finally gained when Geronimo lead a group of Apaches on a surprise slaughter-fest upon Nacozarian Mexicans. The Mexicans, the supposed participants in the Janos massacre, were gorily wiped out, and this left Geronimo with a feeling of satisfaction and pride in his people.

After this stint, his hatred still burned for Mexicans. At times he would walk hundreds of miles just to steal Mexican horses and cattle. He tended to take his prize back up the Arizona mountains, because of the elusive potential of the terrain. Time and time again, Geronimo would steal and flee, steal and flee. As time passed, he began to make quite a name for himself considering he couldn’t be touched. Furthermore, whites joined the “hitlist” of the almighty Geronimo. Whites captured Cochise’s family, which was too personal for the Chiricauhua. Geronimo joined in a series of raids in retaliation, and most were successful.

In the 1870’s, Geronimo settled on the Chiricahua Reservation in Arizona. After jumping from reservation to reservation, and escaping from others, the wily Native American was eventually brought under charges for stealing livestock. He was arrested, then after a few years released once again. Eventually, Geronimo got away and pursued more Mexicans down south because of their constant persecution enacted upon the Apache. After constant battling along the border, the group was able to make residence in some mountains in Mexico. In 1881, Geronimo and his people finally gave up and agreed to move to a reservation at the hands of General George Crook a.k.a. “Gray Wolf”. With about 100 followers and 350 gaffled cattle, Geronimo finally crossed the border into captivity once again.

The Apache were ordered to become farmers at Turkey Creek (their new settlement). This was not suitable because the people were used to raising stock. Also, beer drinking was prohibited, and this was quite upsetting because alcohol was a vital element of Apache culture. In protest, Geronimo and his cronies went on an all-night drinking spree, and fled the reservation. The group scattered, but Geronimo managed to remain elusive, while others were detained by the Americans and Mexicans. After a mass effort to capture him, a new man was given the job of bounty hunter. The man’s name was General Nelson Miles. Even he couldn’t locate Geronimo! Finally, on September 1886, when Geronimo found out that Chiricahuas were to be shipped east, he decided to surrender.

From that point, Geronimo was moved from reservation to reservation until he reached Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he spent the final 14 years of his life. At this location, he picked up some English and learned to write his name. In my mind, he became a sideshow freak, much like the cowboys who joined the circus after their days were over. To exemplify this, he even was a feature in Teddy Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 19051.Geronimo sold his signature, clothes, and arrowheads for money to lavish tourists. He even dictated an autobiography. He eventually died after passing out drunk, falling off his horse, and contracting pneumonia.

I really hate to say this, but after doing this report on the man, he seems like somewhat of a sellout. He did great things for his people, if you consider stealing cows for the needy being great. I do have some sympathy for the guy because his family was killed so early in his life, but he lead a really redundant life. In my mind, all he did was attack, steal cattle, flee to the mountains, get captured, and do the same thing over and over again. To cap it off, he becomes a sideshow freak for white people’s amusement (I thought he hated whites for desecrating his land and causing so much turmoil). Seems to me like the big green ($) can corrupt even the best of us. I guess Geronimo just felt that his life was over, so he took the common proverb “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” to another level.


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