Geronimo, Indian name Goyathlay (“One Who Yawns”), (born June 1829, No-Doyohn Canyon, Mex. —died Feb. 17, 1909, Fort Sill, Okla., U.S. ), Bedonkohe Apache leader of the Chiricahua Apache, who led his people’s defense of their homeland against the military might of the United States.
This Date in Native History: On September 4, 1886, the great Apache warrior Geronimo surrendered in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, after fighting for his homeland for almost 30 years. He was the last American Indian warrior to formally surrender to the United States.
The Apache dominated much of northern Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas for hundreds of years. It is estimated that about 5,000 Apache lived in the Southwest in 1680 AD. Some Apache lived in the mountains, while others lived on the plains.
Perceptions of Geronimo were nearly as complex as the man himself. His followers viewed him as the last great defender of the Native American way of life. But others, including fellow Apaches, saw him as a stubborn holdout, violently driven by revenge and foolishly putting the lives of people in danger.
Today, the Shakopee Mdewakanton are believed to be the richest tribe in American history as measured by individual personal wealth: Each adult, according to court records and confirmed by one tribal member, receives a monthly payment of around $84,000, or $1.08 million a year.
Geronimo was known for his supreme bravery – fighting against both Mexico and the United States to protect Apache land. So the next day, Eberhardt kept his promise, and after exiting the plane on his first jump, screamed “ Geronimo!” starting a new tradition among parachuting troops.
On the Western Plains, pre‐Columbian warfare—before the introduction of horses and guns—pitted tribes against one another for control of territory and its resources, as well as for captives and honor. Indian forces marched on foot to attack rival tribes who sometimes resided in palisaded villages.
Apaches and Navajos, for example, raided both each other and the sedentary Pueblo Indian tribes in an effort to acquire goods through plunder. Raids often spawned blood feuds, though, because a tribe had to avenge the death of a warrior who died either in a raid or in an ensuing battle with pursuers.
Quahadis were the hardest, fiercest, least yielding component of a tribe that had long had the reputation as the most violent and warlike on the continent; if they ran low on water, they were known to drink the contents of a dead horse’s stomach, something even the toughest Texas Ranger would not do.
“Varlebena. It means forever. That’s all they say.”
Traditional Apache religion was based on the belief in the supernatural and the power of nature. Nature explained everything in life for the Apache people. White Painted Woman gave our people their virtues of pleasant life and longevity.
According to National Geographic, “the governor of Sonora claimed in 1886 that in the last five months of Geronimo’s wild career, his band of 16 warriors slaughtered some 500 to 600 Mexicans.” I have killed many Mexicans; I do not know how many, for frequently I did not count them.
The tradition of naming helicopters after Native Americans was once an official regulation. Howze said since the choppers were fast and agile, they would attack enemy flanks and fade away, similar to the way the tribes on the Great Plains fought during the aforementioned American Indian Wars.