The most feared Native American of his time was an Apache who resisted the idea of reservations


Artwork by Terry Pontikos


Quick Facts

Profession: Apache warrior, medicine man

Famous for: opposing social injustice

Born: June 26, 1829, Turkey Creek, present-day New Mexico

Died: February 17, 1909, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, United States

Married: to numerous women

Nickname: Goyaale, meaning 'one who yawns'


End of an era

Find words that mean: promised, achievements, a temporary home, punishment for something someone has done to you

Geronimo was born to an Apache tribe in what is now New Mexico in the United States. He was the fourth of eight children. He grew up listening to stories about the brave deeds of warriors and hunters. When he was 10, he began to join the men on hunts. They hunted buffalo for meat.

Geronimo said that as a boy he never saw any of the white men who had invaded his country. When he was nearly 30, his tribe moved close to a Mexican town called Janos to do trade. But while he and some of the other men were trading in the town, Mexican soldiers attacked his settlement. They killed his mother, his wife and his children and many others. Only around 80 men were left after attack. They had no weapons. They decided to return to their homeland. Geronimo and other members of his tribe vowed vengeance against the Mexicans.

Geronimo the warrior

Find words that mean the opposite: supported, defend, woke, ignore someone's advice

It took almost a year for the Apache to assemble warriors to attack the Mexicans. They went to Mexico on foot, with moccasins on their feet and dressed in loincloths that could be used as blankets when they slept. Geronimo said: "In battle, if the fight was hard, we did not wish much clothing."

The warriors marched for 14 hours a day, covering around 60 kilometres. Each warrior carried three days worth of rations, but they also hunted as they went.

Geronimo went to war with Mexicans, but it was a difficult war to win. He became the most feared Native American. He spent 30 years fighting, first against the Mexicans, and then the United States. When native Americans rose up against the conditions on reservations in the mid-1870s, they turned to Geronimo.

Pursuit and surrender

Choose the right option

Geronimo surrendered in 1885 and spent some time on a reservation. But then he escaped. US troops him for 10 months, before giving up. In April 1886, two US army officers were appointed to track him down. The Apaches were experts at moving undetected, but they were not used to modern technology. The US soldiers had telescopes and an early form of communication called a heliograph. This passed messages over long by using mirrors to sunlight. This made it possible for the soldiers to tell each other where the Apaches were.

"If I am killed no one need mourn for me"

By late summer, Geronimo and his followers were . It felt like there was nothing they could do to escape the US soldiers. In September 1886, Geronimo surrendered. He was placed in a barracks for some time, and in an army fort for seven years. As he grew older, Geronimo became quite famous. He appeared in fairs and sold signed pictures of himself. He was thrown from his horse in February 1909, and spent all night on the ground in the cold before he was found. He died of pneumonia, just after telling his nephew he surrendering.

True or false?

To test your memory, try answering without referring to the text. If you can't remember the details, read the piece again.

1 Geronimo was born in Mexico.
2 Geronimo began attacking white invaders after Mexicans killed his mother, wife and children.
3 Geronimo was eventually captured.
4 Geronimo died after being shot by US troops.



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