Geronimo, born Goyahkla, was raised in the Bedonkohe band of the Apache in the modern-day state of New Mexico. At age 17, he married a woman from another Apache tribe, the Chiricahua. Then in 1858, a band of Mexican soldiers raided Goyahkla’s camp; during the attack, his wife, mother, and three children were killed. Goyahkla’s chief sent him to seek aid from another Chiricahua chief, Cochise, in retaliating against the Mexicans. It was soon after that Goyahkla was given his new name; during one particular battle, he refused to give up, causing his Mexican enemies to appeal to St. Jerome with shouts of “Jeronimo!” Listening Americans assumed the Indian’s name to be Geronimo, and the moniker remained with him throughout his life.

In 1873, the Mexicans again attacked the Apache. After months of fighting, a treaty was written up at Casa Grande. After the agreement was reached, the Mexicans offered strong liquor to the Indians, and while they were intoxicated the troops attacked, killing twenty Apaches and capturing several more. After these two attacks, Geronimo forever considered the Mexicans his enemies, but he fought against American soldiers as well, even while greatly outnumbered. At the end of his career, he led a band of 36 men, women, and children, and these were the last major force of Native Americans to refuse to acknowledge U.S. occupation of western America. Finally, in 1886, Geronimo was tracked down by a troop of U.S. soldiers, who forced Geronimo to flee without rest until at last, exhausted, he surrendered. He and other Apache warriors, including the scouts who had betrayed his position, were sent to Fort Pickens in Florida. In 1887, they were transferred to Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama, where they remained for seven years before they were moved once more to Fort sill, Oklahoma. Toward the end of his life, Geronimo became a national celebrity, even appearing at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and riding in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade, but he was never allowed to return to his homeland.

Geronimo became ill with pneumonia in 1909, after he was thrown from his horse and forced to spend a night in the deathly cold before being found by a friend. He died only a short time later, and on his deathbed, he admitted regretting his earlier surrender at the hands of American soldiers.

Key events during the life of Geronimo:

Was admitted to the warrior council.
Married a Chiricahua woman named Alope.
Massacre at Kas-Ki-Yeh killed many of his family members.
Massacre at Casa Grande.
Surrendered to General Nelson Miles at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona.
  Sent as a prisoner to Fort Pickens, in Florida.
Transferred to Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama.
Transferred to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Joined the Dutch Reformed Church.
Participated in the 1904 World’s Fair.
Rode in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade.
Expelled from the Dutch Reformed Church for gambling.
Died of pneumonia after being thrown from his horse.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Conquering the Warlike Apaches  in  Indian History for Young Folks  by  Francis S. Drake
Geronimo, the Last Apache Chief on the War-path  in  Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known  by  Oliver Otis Howard

Image Links

Geronimo, chief of the Apaches
 in Indian History for Young Folks

We came in sight of the soldiers near Camp Bowie
 in Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known

Short Biography
Cochise Apache Indian War Chief.
Theodore Roosevelt Progressive Republican who served as the 26th President of the United States.