Geronimo was an Apache chief and medicine man who was noted for his fearlessness in defending his people against any attempt to remove them from their tribal territories, whether Mexican or American. Did you know what did Geronimo use to attack his enemies before learning to use the rifle?
Geronimo used to sprint toward armed adversaries in a zig-zag style until he was close enough to wield his knife before learning how to use a rifle properly. “You will never die in combat, nor by gun,” he claimed the mountain spirits told him. “I will guide your arrows.”
Who is Geronimo?
Geronimo was born in No-Doyohn Canyon in June 1829, with the given name Goyaaé or Goyathlay, which means the one who yawns. The canyon was once part of Mexico, but it is now located near the border between Arizona and New Mexico.
He was an Apache chief and medicine man who was noted for his boldness in defying any attempt to remove his people from their tribal territory, whether Mexican or American.
The founding story has a mythic quality to it. According to mythology, after killing and eating his first animal, he ate the heart raw for good luck.
He eluded capture and life on a reservation on several occasions, and on his final escape, a quarter of the United States’ standing army chased him and his companions. Geronimo was the last Native American leader to formally surrender to the US soldiers when he was caught on September 4, 1886. He was a prisoner of war for the previous 23 years of his life. (Source: National Park Service)
The Early Life of Geronimo
The Apaches were at war with Mexicans to the south, the US government to the north, and neighboring Comanche and Navajo tribes by the time he reached adulthood. He was a natural hunter, and by the age of 17, he had led four successful assaults on adjacent tribes.
His lifelong hate for anyone who tried to submit to him or his people was fashioned by a personal tragedy. In 1851, Mexican soldiers headed by Colonel Jose Maria Carrasco raided his family’s camp while he was out on a trading trip. Alope, Geronimo’s wife, their three children, and his mother were all killed.
A personal tragedy formed his hate for anyone who tried to subject him or his people. Mexican soldiers headed by Colonel Jose Maria Carrasco raided his family’s camp in 1851 when he was abroad on a trading trip. Geronimo’s mother, Alope, and his three children were all slain, including his wife and children. (Source: National Park Service)
What Does His Name “Geronimo” Mean?
The origin of the name Geronimo is a point of contention. While directing Apache attacks, the youthful Goyahkla gained the moniker. Some historians say it originated with terrified Mexican soldiers shouting the name of the Catholic St. Jerome when they were fighting Geronimo. Others feel it’s a simple case of Goyahkla being mispronounced.
Whatever the origins of the moniker Geronimo, it was revived long after the leader’s death: paratroopers cried Geronimo! during World War II. This was an allusion to his bravery, before jumping off of planes. (Source: History)