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  • Birth Jun 1829 Catron County, New Mexico, USA
  • Death 17 Feb 1909 Fort Sill, Comanche County, Oklahoma, USA
  • Burial Lawton, Comanche County, Oklahoma, USA
  • Memorial ID 387

Native American Indian Leader. Apache Shaman; Geronimo was the spiritual leader of a small group of Chiricahua Apaches, led by Naiche. He was born a Bedonkohe, raised after his father's death by the Chihenne(Warm Springs) people led by the great Mangas Coloradas, and later mostly aligned himself with the Chokonen(Cochise's People) and Nednai(a group led by Juh, of Northern Mexico). He outfought and evaded the US Army for many years. His boyhood name was Goyakle, which meant "he who yawns." The Mexicans named him Geronimo during a fierce battle, which means "Jerome" in Spanish. He raided in both Mexico and in the United States, and was hunted by both governments. In 1877, the US Government rounded up the Apaches, and settled them on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, to learn farming and cattle ranching. Many Indians did not like this way of life, and were unhappy with the failure of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to keep their promises. In 1878, Geronimo left the reservation with his followers, only to return in 1880. In 1882, Geronimo left again, fleeing to the Sierra Madre Mountains in northern Mexico, from which hi Apaches would raid into the US, using the border as a shield against pursuing troops. During one of his raids into Arizona, General George Crook entered Mexico with a small force of only 50 soldiers, discovered Geronimo's hideout, and captured it with all of the Apache women and children. Upon his return to his hideout in Mexico, Geronimo was forced to surrender to General Crook. In exchange for Geronimo's surrender and return to the White Mountain Reservation, General Crook promised to look into Apache grievances, a promise that he kept. With just 50 soldiers, Crook had captured 123 warriors and 251 women and children, and restored the Apache to their reservation. Although the Apaches kept the peace on the reservation, many whites thought General Crook too soft on the Indians, and rumors and newspaper stories convinced the public that Geronimo was a deadly savage, raiding farms and ranches, and murdering settlers everywhere. On May 17, 1885, Geronimo and his followers left the reservation, only to surrender again to General Crook on March 25, 1886. Before Crook could start them back toward the reservation, someone provided the Apaches with whiskey. With their alcohol-fueled imaginations running wild and fearing a double-cross that would result in their hangings, Geronimo and 24 followers escaped again. General Crook was reprimanded by the War Department, his methods discredited, and he was replaced by General Nelson Miles. General Miles immediately dispatched 5,000 soldiers, and nearly 5,000 civilian irregulars, after Geronimo. He was largely unsuccessful until he adopted Crook's tactics, such as the use of Apache scouts to pursue and track their own relatives. Geronimo and Naiche were tracked down in September 1886 and realized there was no escape. They surrendered for the last time. Geronimo and his followers were shipped as captives to florida the later to Mount Vernon Barracks, near Mobile, Alabama, until 1894, when the remnants of the Chiricahua were relocated to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Geronimo spent the remainder of his life selling photographs of himself and hand-made trinkets to visitors. Unfortunately, he became an alcoholic. One night, in a drunken stupor, he fell asleep and out of his wagon in the middle of a road near Lawton, Oklahoma, during a rainstorm. Catching pneumonia, he died within a day. He was about 80 years old. A few years later, the remaining Apaches at Fort Sill were each given the option to remain there as permanent residents, or to relocate to live with the Mescalero people at Ruidoso, NM. Geronimo, however, remains at Fort Sill, buried under a spread-winged stone eagle in the Indian Cemetery, despite his often-expressed wish that he be allowed to return to the Arizona lands he loved. (Bio contributed by Morgan Benson and Robert Schaller)

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 387
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Geronimo (Jun 1829–17 Feb 1909), Find A Grave Memorial no. 387, citing Beef Creek Apache Cemetery, Lawton, Comanche County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .