GeronimoGeronimo’s grandfather, Maco, had been the chief of the Nedni Apaches.He had been of great size and strength. When Maco had been chief his principlewars had been against the Mexicans. They were seldom at great length of peacewith the Mexicans.
When Maco’s son (Geronimo’s Dad) became a warrior, Maco died.Geronimo’s father could not become the chief of the Nedni’s, because he marrieda woman from the Bedonkohe Apaches. The two had 8 children- four boys and fourgirls, including Geronimo.
The possibility that one of the boys would becomechief of he Bedonkohe was very slim. His mother taught him the legends of hispeople; taught him the sun and sky, the moon and stars, the clouds and storms.She also taught him to kneel and pray to Usen fir strength, health, wisdom, andprotection. When the children were young they would play with each other andsometimes with their mother and father. When they were grown up enough to doreal services they went to the field with their parents: not to play, but totoil. They did not cultivate tobacco, but they found it in the wild.
All ofGeronimo’s tribe smoked, both men and woman. No boy was allowed to smoke untilhe could hunt alone and kill large game such as; wolves, bear, deer, etc.Geronimo’s father died when Geronimo was at a young age. They wrapped hisfather in his finest clothes, painted his face, wrapped a rich blanket aroundhim, saddled his favorite horse, bore his arms in front of him, and led hishorse behind, repeating in wailing tones his deeds of valor as they carried hisbody to a cave in the mountain.
They then slew his horses and gave way all hisproperty, as was customary in our tribe, after which his body was deposited inthe cave, his arms beside him. Geronimo’s mother never married again, whichwas not a custom to the Bedonkohe Apache. In 1846, when Geronimo was 17 yearsof age, he was admitted to the council of warriors. If a war had startedbetween tribes he could go on the warpath with his tribe. Geronimo had longdesired to fight with his warriors. What he was the happiest about was that hecould marry Alope, the daughter of No-po-so. The two had been with each otheralong time before. So when he got the news that he was in the council ofwarriors, Geronimo went straight to No-po-so concerning their marriage.
No-po-so asked for many ponies in exchange for Alope. Geronimo made no reply, but ina few days Geronimo appeared at No-po-so’s wig-wam with the herd of ponies, andtook Alope with him. That was all the marriage ceremony needed in his tribe.Geronimo built a teepee, not far from his mother’s, made of buffalo hides.They followed the traditions and had three children.
When Geronimo was29,(1858) him and almost all the other warriors left to go trade with a Mexicantown, Kas-ki-yeh. When the warriors were heading back a few women and childrenmet and told the warriors killed the warriors that were guarding there camp,destroyed their supplies, captured all of their ponies, and killed many of thewoman and children. They quickly separated, concealed themselves as best theycould until nightfall, they then assembled at their appointed place ofrendezvous- a thicket by the river. Silently they went in one by one: sentinelswere placed, and, when all were counted he found his old mother, young spouse,and three children slain. Without being noticed, he silently turned and stoodby the river. When the warriors were arranging he took his place.
With only 80warriors left, without arms or supplies, and in the center of Mexican territory,the chief, Magnus-Colarado gave the order to start at once to their homes inArizona. For 2 days and 3 nights they stopped only for meals. They then made acamp near the Mexican border, where they rested for two days.
Geronimo talkedto other warriors who had lost something in the massacre, but none had lost ashe had , for he had lost all. When they arrived in Arizona he burnt everythingAlope had made, the children’s toys, and the teepee.The warriors of his tribe were all willing to wage war against theMexicans.
Geronimo was appointed to solicit the aid of other tribes in the war.When he went to the Cohkonen (Chiricahua) Apaches, Cochise, their chief, calleda council at early dawn. While the warriors sat on top a mountain dell, Cochisesignaled Geronimo he rose and said as follows:”Kinsman, you have heard what the Mexicans have recently done withoutcause.
You are my relatives-uncles, cousins, brothers. We are men the same asthe Mexicans are-we can do to them what they have done to us. Let us go forwardand trail them-I will lead you to their city-we attack their homes. I willfight in the front of the battle-I only ask you to follow me to avenge thiswrong done by these Mexicans-will you come? It is well-you will all come.”Remember the rule in war-men may return or they may be killed. If anyof these young men are killed I want no blame from the kinsman, for theythemselves have chosen to go. If I am killed no one need mourn for me. Mypeople have been killed in that country, and I, too, will die if need be.
“Geronimo returned to his settlement and reported the success to hischief. He then went south and made the same speech to the Nedni Apaches.It was the summer of 1859, almost a year from the date of the massacreat Kaskiyeh. The three Apache tribes lined up along the Mexican border withtheir faces painted, the war bands fastened on their brows, their long scalplocks (The scalps were rewarded if a Mexican got one. 100$ for a warrior scalp,50$ for a squaw scalp, and 25$ for a child’s scalp, all the money was paid ingold) ready for the knives the Indians would have to fight. They were separatedinto three divisions: the Bedonkohe Apaches, Chokonen Apaches, and the NedniApaches. Each warrior had 3 days rations, they usually marched for 14 hoursper day, making 3 stops for meals, averaging 40-45 miles a day.
Geronimo actedas a guide into Mexico. When they were almost at Arispe, they camped. 8 menrode in from the city, the Indians captured, killed, and scalped them, to drawtroops from the city.
At about ten o’clock the next morning, as they hadexpected, the whole Mexican force came out. There were two companies of cavalryand two of infantry. He recognized the cavalry that killed the people atKaskiyeh, he told the chieftains and they let him lead the army. He arrangedthe army in a hollow circle, the Mexican army closed in up until the Apaches andthe Mexicans were 400 yards apart when the enemy opened fire. Geronimo orderedthe army to charge, but sent some braves to attack from the rear. Geronimofought with fury, the battle lasted about 2 hours. At the end of the battletheir was only four Indians left including Geronimo. Their arrows were all gone,their spears were broken, stuck inside their dead enemies.
They had only therehands and knives with left to fight, but all that stood against them were dead.Then two armed soldiers came upon them from another part of the field. Theyshot down two of the Indians, and Geronimo and another Indian charged toward theenemies. His companion was struck down by a saber. Geronimo picked up a spearhe found and turned. The one who pursued him missed his aim, and died byGeronimo’s spear.
With the dead man’s saber he met the Mexican who had killedhis companion, they grappled and fell. Geronimo killed him with his knife andquickly rose over the corpse. The Apache braves surrounded Geronimo, and theymade him the war chief of all Apaches.
Geronimo all of the slain enemies bescalped, the Apaches avenged the massacre of Kas-ki-yeh.At about 1873, they were attacked by Mexican troops once again in theirown settlement, but the Apache defeated them.Geronimo and the Mexicans fought for years, bought once they weresettled down, the white man bickered the Apaches. Geronimo got the right towrite his book by the President in the early 1900’s. He lived in peace until hedied in February 1909.