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Saturday, 28 March 2015


Geronimo was born June 16, 1829 near Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Gila River in the modern-day state of Arizona, then part of Mexico. He was the son of Tablishim and Juana of the Bedonkohe band of the Apache. His grandfather (Mahko) had been chief of the Bedonkohe Apache.

On March 5, 1851, while he was away on a trading expedition, Geronimo's camp near Janos was attacked by 400 Mexican soldiers led by Colonel Jose Maria Carrasco. Among those killed were Geronimo's wife, children, and mother. The incident sparked a life-long hatred of the white man.

During the course of his long life, Geronimo was married several times. His first marriage, to Alope, ended with her death and that of their children in 1858. He next married Chee-hash-kish and had two children, Chappo and Dohn-say. Geronimo's later wives included Nana-tha-thtith, Zi-yeh, She-gha, Shtsha-she, Ih-tedda, Ta-ayz-slath. His ninth and last wife was Azul, and Azul.

Geronimo led raids on US soldiers after his Chiricahua reservation was abolished in 1876. After years of bloodshed he was captured following a hard-fought campaign against General George Crook, but escaped. Geronimo later surrendered, on condition that his men returned to their homes in Florida. Instead they were imprisoned and later settled elsewhere.

Geronimo (Goyaałé), a Bedonkohe Apache; kneeling with rifle, 1887

Geronimo became in his old age a Christian farmer living in a brick home. A member of the Dutch Reformed Church, eventually he was expelled by the church for gambling.

By the beginning of the 20th century Geronimo had become a celebrity. He appeared at a number of events, including the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, where he reportedly rode a ferris wheel and sold souvenirs and photographs of himself.

Geronimo as a U.S. prisoner in 1905

In February 1909, Geronimo was thrown from his horse while riding home, and had to lie in the cold all night before a friend found him extremely ill. He died of pneumonia on February 17, 1909, as a prisoner of the United States at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Geronimo confessed on his deathbed to his nephew that he regretted his decision to surrender.  His last words were reported to be: "I should have never surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive."

Geronimo was buried at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in the Apache Indian Prisoner of War Cemetery.

The custom of yelling his name before doing a courageous act originated in a 1939 movie about Geronimo. A number of American Indians in the paratroop units coined and popularized the phrase, shouting "Geronimo" to show they had no fear of jumping out of an airplane.

The actor Nicholas Colasanto,who played Coach in the first three series of the comedy TV series Cheers, kept a picture of Geronimo in his dressing room as a good luck charm. After his death, that picture was hung on the bar/set wall in memory of "Nicky."


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