December 03, 2007

Geronimo

“I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.“

“When a child, my mother taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom and protection. Sometimes we prayed in silence, sometimes each one prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us, and to Usen.“

“I had no weapon, nor did I hardly wish to fight, neither did I contemplate recovering the bodies of my loved ones, for that was forbidden. I did not pray, nor did I resolve to do anything in particular, for I had no purpose left. I was never again contented in our quiet home.”

“I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes. I was living peaceably when people began to speak bad of me. Now I can eat well, sleep well and be glad. I can go everywhere with a good feeling.”

“I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.“

“I was no chief and never had been, but because I had been more deeply wronged than others, this honor was conferred upon me, and I resolved to prove worthy of the trust.“

“The soldiers never explained to the government when an Indian was wronged, but reported the misdeeds of the Indians.“
“We took an oath not to do any wrong to each other or to scheme against each other.”
~Geronimo
(1829-1909)

*Geronimo was the leader of the last American Indian fighting force formally to capitulate to the United States. Because he fought against such daunting odds and held out the longest, he became the most famous Apache of all. To the pioneers and settlers of Arizona and New Mexico, he was a bloody-handed murderer and this image endured until the second half of this century.

By the time American settlers began arriving in the area, the Spanish had become entrenched in the area. They were always looking for Indian slaves and Christian converts. One of the most pivotal moments in Geronimo's life was in 1858 when he returned home from a trading excursion into Mexico. He found his wife, his mother and his three young children murdered by Spanish troops from Mexico. This reportedly caused him to have such a hatred of the whites that he vowed to kill as many as he could. From that day on he took every opportunity he could to terrorize Mexican settlements and soon after this incident he received his power, which came to him in visions. Geronimo was never a chief, but a medicine man, a seer and a spiritual and intellectual leader both in and out of battle. The Apache chiefs depended on his wisdom.

Geronimo's final surrender in 1886 was the last significant Indian guerrilla action in the United States. At the end, his group consisted of only 16 warriors, 12 women, and 6 children. Upon their surrender, Geronimo and over 300 of his fellow Chiricahuas were shipped to Fort Marion, Florida. One year later many of them were relocated to the Mt. Vernon barracks in Alabama, where about one quarter died from tuberculosis and other diseases. Geronimo died on Feb. 17, 1909, a prisoner of war, unable to return to his homeland. He was buried in the Apache cemetery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.


10 comments:

rockync said...

The neverending cycle of man's inhumanity to man. It's all about perspective, isn't it? To the US government Geronimo was a cold blooded killer, to his people he was the defender of their nation. Imagine how different life here would have been if these two nations had come to a peaceful compromise...

Jan said...

rockync..personally, I don't think there can be any such thing as a peaceful compromise. Either one side or the other is having to adjust to, or give up something that they'd rather not--and in doing that, as I see it, there can be no real peace about it. And, yes--just about everything is about perspective.
The Spaniards had no love for Geronimo, either, as you probably noticed.

Dazd said...

“I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.”

“Believing that in a wise way it is good to go to church, and that associating with Christians would improve my character, I have adopted the Christian religion... I am not ashamed to be a Christian... I have advised all of my people who are not Christians, to study that religion, because it seems to me the best religion in enabling one to live right.”

sheoflittlebrain said...

I was moved to tears by this Jan, and I wish things could have been different. But it doesn't look as though human nature has changed much in the last 100 or 1000 years, and sadly, as an old boss of mine used to say in a heavy monotone,...The....Beat...Goes... On....

Jan said...

dazd..the entire story of Gernonimo's life is very sad, I think. Although he did convert to Christianity, he fell away, but felt so unhappy that he reunited with his Methodist church. In reading the history of this man, I was moved to tears, realizing the events which drove him to earn his reputation of a cruel, and hardened man. I think he is someone that I would have liked knowing..I think that he had a very good heart.

Jan said...

She..so was I, many times. I felt much sadness as I read this particular man's history. I think that the human race has failed miserably, when you come right down to it..and your boss was right, the beat does go on.

The Hermit said...

Geronimo was a stone killer. He may have had his motivation but he makes Charles Manson look like the tooth fairy. I'm just glad the old b****** is dead, myself. I won't horrify anyone with details on what he did to people unlucky enough to fall into his hands, women or children in particular, but believe me, the Boogy Man was real.

Jan said...

hermit..well, I guess in all of my reading, I have never read those details, and no doubt, we would be shocked at many things that we are not aware of about others in the history of this country.

I know that I am thoroughly shocked at some of the things I have read about concerning other countries.

GUYK said...

I agree with Hermit..Geronimo was a killer and in the eyes of white America a cruel one.

But I will have to hand it to him..he didn't roll over without a fight..

I have said before and will say again..the land..all land..belongs to whoever can take it and hold it. The Apaches had taken it from another people who had no doubt taken it from someone else centuries before the white man ever saw Apache country..they just couldn't hold on to it.

It has been like this all over this earth throughout the course of human events..and I doubt that it will ever change

Jan said...

guyk..not in this life will it ever change.