Apache Chief Geronimo

Picture of the Apache Chief Geronimo

This article contains facts and information about the life and times of the famous Native American Indian chief known as Geronimo.

Who was Geronimo and why was this Native Indian chief famous? Summary: Geronimo (1829-1909) was a famous chief and Shaman of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States during the Apache Wars. The conflicts were over the settlers expansion into Apache tribal lands. Geronimo was captured in 1886 and confined to a reservation. He died on February 17, 1909.

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Fast Facts about Geronimo
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts, background history and information about the life of Geronimo and the events in history that led to his fame as a great Native American Indian leader.

Fast Facts about Geronimo

  • Tribe: Apache

  • Lifespan of Geronimo: 1829 - 1909

  • Alternative Name: Goyathlay, the One Who Yawns

  • Clan: Bedonkohe band of the Apache

  • Place of Birth: Turkey Creek, Gila River in Arizona

  • Date of Birth: June 16, 1829

  • Date of Death: February 17, 1909

  • Place of Death: Fort Sill, Oklahoma

  • Siblings: 3 sisters and 4 brothers

  • Spouses: Alope, Ta-ayz-slath, Chee-hash-kish, Nana-tha-thtith, Zi-yeh, She-gha, Shtsha-she, Ih-tedda, and Azul

  • Native Indian Allies: Mimbrenos of Mangas Coloradas and the Chiricahuas (led by Cochise)
    Children: Chappo, Dohn-say

  • Native Indian Enemies: Navajo and the Comanches

  • Famous Battles: Conflicts during the Apache Wars (1851 - 1900) including the 1861 Battle of Apache Pass

Geronimo - His Early Years
Geronimo was one of the leaders which helped lead the Apache Indian tribes into battles against the foreigners who were taking their land. Among these foreigners were the Americans, Spaniards, and the Mexicans. Geronimo was born in June of the year 1829 and lived in the canyon of No-Dohyon. Again, he was one of the leaders that continued resisting the power of the Americans. He was part of the smaller tribe of the Apache Indian Tribe known as Bedonkohe. This small tribe had more trouble compared to the bigger branches of the tribe as they were also surrounded by other enemies, namely the Navajo and the Comanches. Legends tell that Geronimo was heralded as strong even when he was a child. In fact, in order to receive continued protection throughout his life as an Indian and as a hunter, he ate the heart of the first kill he ever had. In 1846 Geronimo was admitted to Council of the Warriors.

Geronimo - The murder of his family and his Vision
The most pivotal moment in Geronimo’s life was in 1851 when he went out during a trading excursion. When he came back to his own camp, he found it destroyed, along with the bodies of his family. His wife and three children had been murdered. This grieved Geronimo so much that he mourned in isolation in the desert. It was during this time of distance from society that a vision came to him. The vision said this: “No gun will ever kill you. I will take the bullets from the guns of the Mexicans… and I will guide your arrows.”

Geronimo - Raids into Mexico
1852 Geronimo led other Apache leaders and warriors into Mexico for revenge. They succeeded in killing many Mexican soldiers during their attacks. Whilst in his twenties Geronimo had led several raids against neighboring tribes and foreigners, particularly the Mexicans. The Mexican government placed a bounty of $25 on his head

Geronimo and Cochise
Cochise was the war chief the Chiricahua Apache. Geronimo joined in every war that Cochise participated in and also joined the raids of the Mimbrenos of Mangas Coloradas. Cochise led the Chiricahua Wars (1860–1886). Towards the end of Chochise’s life, he finally insisted on peace between the Indian tribes and the Americans that led him to accept a settlement provided to them by the government. In 1872 the Apaches were moved to Apache Pass, a reservation in the mountains. Geronimo was against the Peace Treaty due to his strong distrust of the white men but he complied with the agreement made by the war chief Cochise. Cochise died in 1874 and by 1876 the Chiricahua's reservation was terminated and the people were forced to move. Geronimo became war chief and continued his fights with the white settlers.

It was during this second period of fighting that Geronimo started that his notoriety among the Indian ranks rose. In fact, this has made him the most famous Apache Indian in history – both in Native Indian and American history alike. Geronimo was a great Apache war chief and
Medicine Man, or Shaman, of the Chiricahua Apaches. As a war leader he produced such fear in his Mexican enemies that, when Goyathlay led the attack, the Mexicans would call out the name of their patron Saint Jerome and his nickname, Geronimo, added to his legend. Before long the name 'Geronimo' was use as a battle cry. During this period, referred to as Geronimo's War (1881–1886) almost a quarter of the American troops – 5,000 – were looking for him in order to capture him. On April 21, 1877, John P. Clum, an Indian agent, entrapped Geronimo at Ojo Caliente. This was the first, and the only time in Geronimo's life that he was captured. He was sent to the Apache reservation.

Geronimo - The Surrender
He hated life on the reservation and, on April 4, 1878, Geronimo led a breakout from San Carlos Reservation. He returned voluntarily but then led a second breakout on May 17, 1885. General George Crook pursued Geronimo relentlessly, and on September 23, 1887 the aging, powerful warrior chief surrendered -- only to change his mind a few days later and flee into Mexico. Finally on September 4, 1887, Geronimo surrendered to General Nelson Miles and with many of his warriors and their families. Many were imprisoned in Florida and Alabama. Geronimo never returned to his home in Arizona. In 1894 the Apaches were moved to the Indian reservation near Fort Sill in Oklahoma.

The Final Years of Geronimo
His surrender ended the many years of conflict with the settlers, which had lasted from 1857 - 1886. He spent his last years dictating his autobiography and occasionally visiting fairs and other public exhibitions such as the Omaha and Buffalo Expositions. He even appeared at the St. Louis Exposition with the "Wild West Show" and his fame led to an audience with then American president Theodore Roosevelt.

Geronimo leads President Theodore Roosevelt’s Inaugural Parade

Geronimo leads President Theodore Roosevelt’s Inaugural Parade in 1905

The Death of Geronimo
Geronimo died of pneumonia on February 17, 1909. According to reports, upon his deathbed, he aired out his only regret was that he hoped to have continued to fight until he was the last man standing.  So ended the life of the last of the great Apache war chiefs.

The Story of Geronimo
For additional facts and information refer to the legend and the Story of Geronimo and the Story of the Apache Wars.

The Apache Wars
The Apache Wars were a series of conflicts fought over 50 years (1851 - 1900) with American settlers and the US army against many Apache tribes in the southwestern United States. The Apache tribes involved in the conflicts included the Chiricahua, Jicarilla, Mescalero, Lipan, Chihenne or Warm Springs Apaches. The famous leaders of the Apache Wars were Geronimo, Cochise, Chatto, Victorio and Juh.


  • Interesting Facts and information about Geronimo
  • The life of Geronimo, this famous Native American Indian Chief
  • The Name of his Native American Indian Tribe: Apache
  • Fast Facts and info about Geronimo
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on Geronimo, a famous chief of the Apache tribe
  • Geronimo

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
Geronimo! Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as Geronimo. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Apache tribe of Geronimo, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages studying famous Native Americans such as Geronimo. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great educational resource for kids.


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