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The Legend of Geronimo

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 @ 06:37 PM

During the late 1800’s, as the United States extended its borders into Mexico, Native American tribes were struggling to survive. One of the most prominent leaders of that era was Geronimo, a Bedonkohe Apache leader of the Chiricahua Apache, who fought the United States and Mexican governments to protect tribal lands.

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GERONIMO - MIGHTY LEADER AND WARRIOR OF THE APACHE INDIANS

Geronimo was the fourth of eight children. He was born in No-Doyohn Canyon, Mexico (modern day New Mexico) in 1829. His grandfather had been chief. When he was very young, Geronimo’s father passed away after an extended illness. From that point forward, Geronimo assumed responsibility for supporting his mother and siblings. At age 17, when Geronimo had reached maturity, he was invited to be on the council of the warriors. This was considered to be a great honor and heightened his desire to become a highly-skilled warrior.

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GERONIMO THE GREAT DURING HIS FINAL YEARS

After proving himself capable, Geronimo was granted permission to marry Alope. Together they had three children and were happy together for a time. Later, when Geronimo was 29, he traveled with his tribe to a Mexican town for trade. At a stop along the way, a few women and children came to them and informed them that their camp had been attacked by Mexican troops and that many of their men, women, and children had been killed. The tribe returned to camp to find their entire families brutally massacred.

While suffering from the devastating loss, Geronimo followed the tradition of setting fire to his family’s home before heading into the wilderness to mourn. It was there that he reportedly heard a voice that told him that he would be protected from gunfire and that his war efforts would be divinely guided. This moment inspired Geronimo to begin the first battle of what would become more than a decade of attacks on the Mexican soldiers in revenge for the deaths of his tribe and family.

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A SIGNED PROGRAM FROM THE 1904 WORLD FAIR - FROM THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION - THIS RARE HISTORICAL PIECE IS AVAILABLE NOW FOR $17,500

After the United States took possession of parts of Mexico in the Mexican-American War of 1848, Geronimo’s enemy extended to American soldiers. To avoid mass bloodshed, Geronimo’s father-in-law, who was the leader of the Chiricahua tribe, agreed to establish the first Apache reservation. A few years later, the US government reneged on the deal and forced Apaches to relocate. This reignited Geronimo’s anger and he resumed acting out his aggression on the military.

After evading capture for many years, Geronimo was captured in 1877 and sent to live on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. He managed to escape in 1881 and, with a small band of tribal followers, Geronimo spent the next five years fighting the United States. Today, Geronimo is considered to be the last great defender of Native American life.

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GERONIMO'S SIGNATURE - THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

For several years, Geronimo was hunted by up to 5,000 Army troops at a time, but he remained at large. It was not until 1886 that Geronimo wit his amily and a band of loyal folowers starving that he surrendered. He and his followers were prisoners of war for the remainder of their lives, held in Florida, then Alabama and finally in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where Geronimo passed away in 1909.

During the final years of his life, Geronimo published an autobiography and had the privilege of meeting President Theodore Roosevelt in person. His military accomplishments and ability to elude capture made Geronimo a legend, one that is still talked about anytime the western expansion is discussed. Geronimo was indeed one of the important figures that helped shaped American history.

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