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Meet Geronimo and his people

Walking on Sacred ground- a journey in Indian country 2006.

On july 14:th 2006, we drove to Cholla powerplant near the town of Holbrook in the northeastern part of Arizona. The power-plant is fueled by coal from Window Rock mine on the Navajo reservation. There are so many coalmines on "Indian-lands", so much coal is still burning in power-plants in the US, producing cheap electricity to energy-hungry cities with flashing neon-lights and air-conditioned buildings. Out here, on the reservation, most households don’t have electricity in them, even though huge power-lines crisscross the reservation everywhere you look.

By now, most people have at least heard of, and some have felt the effect of, the well advanced progress of Climate Change, and the role that burning of fossil fuels play, in this the ultimate challenge, mankind and all living beings, now face.

One cant help but thinking of where we would be today, if for instance at least a part of the huge amount of money that nation-states has invested in inventing and developing weapons of mass-destruction and space-programmes, instead had been invested in developing effective systems to produce clean energy, like wind and solar-power.
Noone is going to say that it cant be done...If mankind can travel in space, we surely have the capacity to find ways to produce clean sustainable energy.

Cholla Powerplant 
On the way, we passed signs that announced directions to the "Geronimo Trading post", and we wondered why this famous Apache leaders name appeared in these parts.
We were then told that Geronimo and his People were loaded into train-wagons and deported to Florida as prisoners of war, in the late 1800:ds, from the old train-station in Holbrook.
Since we were so close to the town of Holbrook, we decided go there, to see the place where the Apache People were taken on the long journey, by military-force, from their homelands.

Arriving at the old, now abandoned, train-station buildings in Holbrook, we walked around by the old railroad-tracks, for a while.
It was surprising to see that there were no signs, no information there at the site, of what had happened there.

We noticed that the old building had iron-bars for the windows, and again, the mind started wandering... wondering if the Apache peoples were confined behind those bars before they were taken away to strange lands.
How frightening it must have been... not knowing what was awaiting them, their women and children, their old ones... the soldiers that had attacked and killed many of their people, now standing outside and herding the people onto the train... They must have felt they were heading for their "final destination"- death. Pictures from Hitlers holocaust, flashed before the inner vision.

Holbrook Trainstation 
Standing there thinking of these peoples, one could almost sense the fear and anxciety, and the place felt laden with despair and sadness.

Leaving Holbrook behind, didn’t erase those feelings. A terrible wrong was committed there. ever since then a feeling has been present, to find out more about what happened to these People, so back in Sweden again, the research began.

I think most people here in Europe have heard his name. Some may even know who he was; Goyathlay – Geronimo, the famous Apache leader, who fought so fiercely against the Mexicans and the US military in the late 1800:eds.

But who was this man? What kind of life did he live?

GOYATHLAY – One who yawns


Was the name he was given. He was born among the Bedonkohe Apache, in the month of June year 1829 near the headwaters of the Gila River. He was the fourth child in a family of 8 children.His grandfather Maco, was once chief of the Bedonkohe, but he died when Goyathlays father was still young, and Mangas-Colorado became chief of the Bedonkohe Apaches.

Goyathlays father also died, when Goyathlay was still a young child. After his fathers death, he took care of and supported his mother her whole life. She never remarried, although she could have if she had wanted to, as was sometimes the custom among the Apache when a spouse died.

At the age of 17, Goyathlay was admitted to the Council of the warriors. This made him very happy, because now he could go wherever he wanted to, and serve his people in battle.
At this time, the Apache people still had to fight off the spanish invaders to the south of them; in Mexico, and often had to defend their families and homelands against the Spanish speaking soldiers from Mexico. But his greatest joy was that he could now marry the woman he loved: Alope. Read his own words from:

See Geronimo-his own story on From Revolution to Reconstruction website: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/geronimo/geronixx.htm

Goyathlay: - "Perhaps the greatest joy to me was that now I could marry the fair Alope, daughter of No-po-so. She was a slender, delicate girl, but we had been lovers for a long time. So, as soon as the council granted me these privileges I went to see her father concerning our marriage. Perhaps our love was of no interest to him; perhaps he wanted to keep Alope with him, for she was a dutiful daughter; at any rate he asked many ponies for her. I made no reply, but in a few days appeared before his wigwam with the herd of ponies and took with me Alope. This was all the marriage ceremony necessary in our tribe. ‘

Not far from my mother's tepee I had made for us a new home. The tepee was made of buffalo hides and in it were many bear robes, lion hides, and other trophies of the chase, as well as my spears, bows, and arrows. Alope had made many little decorations of beads and drawn work on buckskin, which she placed in our tepee. She also drew many pictures on the walls of our home. She was a good wife, but she was never strong. We followed the traditions of our fathers and were happy. Three children came to us-- children that played, loitered, and worked as I had done."

Thus their life went by until the summer of 1858. Goyathlay went with others of his People, to trade in Mexico. After a while they got word that Mexican troops had attacked their village, while they were gone, killing many.

Arriving at the village, he found his mother, Alope and all of their 3 children dead.
Goyathlay stood silent by the river for a long time. His people called a council to decide what to do, they were under the threat of the possibility that Mexican troops could return to the village. Goyathlay was silent.Chief Mangas-Colorado gave orders to leave the village in silence, leaving the dead on the field. Goyathlay followed in silence, numb, not knowing what to do. Try to imagen such an unbareable pain.Your mother, your spouse and all of your children, slaughtered on the ground.

The next day the camp stopped only to eat, but Goyathlay didn’t eat. They marched for 2 days more and 3 nights, on the fourth day, he took some food into his body, and talked to others who had lost their loved ones, but none had lost everyone, as he had done.

Arriving at their new settlement, he burned everything that had belonged to his mother, Alope and his 3 children. From this moment on Goyathlay was never content anymore. His heart aced for revenge and he vowed vengeance upon the Mexican troops that had wronged him so badly.

Mangas-Colorado called a council and it became known that all the warriors were willing to take the warpath against Mexico. Goyathlay was appointed to solicit aid of other tribes in this war. He was successful.

Together with his warriors and chief Mangas-Colorado, the Chokoen ( Chiricaua ) chief Cochise and his warriors and the Nedni Apache under the leadership of their chef Whoa, Goyathlay headed into Mexico.

See Geronimo-his own story on From Revolution to Reconstruction website: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/geronimo/geronixx.htm


Bedonkohe Chief Mangas-Colorado

He was about to get his revenge, because they found the troops that had killed his family. Goyathlay fought so fiercly, in the frontline, not backing down an inch. When it was all over, the Apache war-whoop sounded – they were victorious. Goyathly, standing among dead Mexican soldiers, still covered in their blood, was made war- chief of all the Apaches.
He said: - "I could not call back my loved ones, I could not bring back the dead Apaches, but I could rejoice in this revenge. The Apaches had avenged the massacre of Kas-ki-yeh".


Geronimo and Naiche: See Geronimo-his own story on From Revolution to Reconstruction website: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/geronimo/geronixx.htm

Now followed a long time of warfare for the Apache warriors. Many battles were fought, some victorious and some lost, but at all times Goyathlay displayed a fearless fighting-spirit, always he was first in line, daring and fierce. It seemed like he was bullettproof – like no bullett could kill him. His enemies, the Mexicans, started to fear him more than anyone else.

It has not been possible to find out where his second name came from, or what it means, but some say that when the Spanish-speaking people tried to pronounce Goyathlay, it eventually became Geronimo.

Time went by and there were times of peace with the Mexicans, aswell as times of war. Geronimo was always eager to fight the mexicans – even at old age, when he was a prisoner of war at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, he said:
-"It has been a long time since then, but still I have no love for the Mexicans. With me they were always treacherous and malicious. I am old now and shall never go on the warpath again, but if I were young, and followed the warpath, it would lead into Old Mexico"

While the Apaches fought the Mexicans in the south, they started to feel an increasing military pressure also in Arizona, from the US military.


Now they had to fight on several fronts.

The coming of the white men.

Geronimo describes meeting white men, for the first time:
About the time of the massacre of "Kaskiyeh" (1858) we heard that some white men were measuring land to the south of us. In company with a number of other warriors I went to visit them. We could not understand them very well, for we had no interpreter, but we made a treaty with them by shaking hands and promising to be brothers. Then we made our camp near their camp, and they came to trade with us. We gave them buckskin, blankets, and ponies in exchange for shirts and provisions. We also brought them game, for which they gave us some money. We did not know the value of this money, but we kept it and later learned from the Navajo Indians that it was very valuable. Every day they measured land with curious instruments and put down marks which we could not understand. They were good men, and we were sorry when they had gone on into the west. They were not soldiers. These were the first white men I ever saw.
About ten years later some more white men came. These were all warriors. They made their camp on the Gila River south of Hot Springs.
See Geronimo-his own story on From Revolution to Reconstruction website: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/geronimo/geronixx.htm

At first they were friendly and we did not dislike them, but they were not as good as those who came first.

After about a year some trouble arose between them and the Indians, and I took the war path as a warrior, not as a chief. I had not been wronged, but some of my people had been, and I fought with my tribe; for it was the soldiers, not the Indians, who were at fault.

Not long after this some of the officers of the United States troops invited our leaders to hold a conference at Apache Pass (Fort Bowie in Arizona). Just before noon the Indians were shown into a tent and told that they would be given something to eat. When in the tent they were attacked by soldiers. our chief, Mangus-Colorado, and several other warriors, by cutting through the tent, escaped; but most of the warriors were killed or captured. Among the Bedonkohe Apaches killed at this time were Sanza, Kladetahe, Niyokahe, and Gopi. After this treachery the Indians went back to the mountains and left the fort entirely alone. I do not think that the agent had anything to do with planning this, for he had always treated us well. I believe it was entirely planned by the soldiers.
From the very first the soldiers sent out to our western country, and the officers in charge of them, did not hesitate to wrong the Indians. They never explained to the Government when an Indian was wronged, but always reported the misdeeds of the Indians. Much that was done by mean white men was reported at Washington as the deeds of my people.

The Indians always tried to live peaceably with the white soldiers and settlers. One day during the time that the soldiers were stationed at Apache Pass I made a treaty with the post. This was done by shaking hands and promising to be brothers. Cochise and Mangus-Colorado did likewise. I do not know the name of the officer in command, but this was the first regiment that ever came to Apache Pass. This treaty was made about a year before we were attacked in a tent, as above related. In a few days after the attack at Apache Pass we organized in the mountains and returned to fight the soldiers. There were two tribes-the Bedonkohe and the Chokonen Apaches, both commanded by Cochise. After a few days' skirmishing we attacked a freight train that was coming in with supplies for the Fort. We killed some of the men and captured the others. These prisoners our chief offered to trade for the Indians whom the soldiers had captured at the massacre in the tent. This the officers refused, so we killed our prisoners, disbanded, and went into hiding in the mountains.

In a few days troops were sent out to search for us, but as we were disbanded, it was, of course, impossible for them to locate any hostile camp. During the time they were searching for us many of our warriors (who were thought by the soldiers to be peaceable Indians) talked to the officers and men, advising them where they might find the camp they sought, and while they searched we watched them from our hiding places and laughed at their failures.
After this trouble all of the Indians agreed not to be friendly with the white men any more. There was no general engagement, but a long struggle followed. Sometimes we attacked the white men, sometimes they attacked us. First a few Indians would be killed and then a few soldiers. I think the killing was about equal on each side. The number killed in these troubles did not amount to much, but this treachery on the part of the soldiers had angered the Indians and revived memories of other wrongs, so that we never again trusted the United States troops"

See Geronimo-his own story on From Revolution to Reconstruction website: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/geronimo/geronixx.htm

Time and time again, the Apache people tried to live side by side, with the white men. Geronimo made many agreements with different US generals at the fort, but always bad things happened that made it impossible for him and his people to live in peace with the whites.
At times, Geronimo agreed to live on the reservation, but many times he escaped into the mountains with his warriors.

The only general Geronimo mentioned that kept his word to him, was General Howard who was stationed at Apache pass ( Fort Bowie ). He was the only representative of the US Army that treated Geronimo and his people well. They became friends.
General Howard was later on replaced and the next general that Geronimo speaks of is general Crook; a man who repeatedly hunted Geronimo and his men, and never kept any agreement they made between them.

After general Crook died, general Miles entered the scene.

One have to wonder how these men, these soldiers that originally came from Europe , felt about their jobs...being so near the Indigenous Peoples on the reservations, seeing the children, the elders, men and women, who were confined in these concentration-camps. Did these white men ever doubt what their superior officers and decisionmakers in Washington and Europe, fed them? How were they able to carry out their dirty work? How could they kill so many people; men, women, children, elders, just because they had a different colour of skin and lifestyle that differed from the European?
The phenomenon, I guess, is still here with us today,people who follow blindly what men in power tells them is true and carry out their orders.

After a long time of constant struggle, times of imprisonment and escapes, time in confinement at the reservation in San Carlos and escapes from there, often due to rumours that the military had plans to kill all the Apache leaders, as they did to the plains tribes at the time, and enduring starvation and hardships, Geronimos last time as a free man, were getting closer.

He and a few of his warriors and their families, were again in the mountainous country in Arizona. His last time in freedom were spent with Victorio and his sister, the female warrior: Lozen.

Lozen had a gift; she could sense were their enemies were located. She was a medicine woman and a midwife, too. Because of her ability to tell were the US troops that hunted them, were at, Geronimo, Victorio and the other Apache, were able to avoid contact with the US soldiers for a long time. They made it all the way into Mexico, once more. But Lozen, assisting a woman in childbirth, had to stay back, while the warriors continued, she was hoping to catch up with them, later.

Lozen, the female Apache Warrior, deserves her own story, so I ll just mention her important part in this war, briefly here.

The US troops had followed Geronimo, Victorio and their people, into Mexico territory, contrary to what Geronimo and the others believed. They suffered great losses at a surprise attack by the US Army.

See Geronimo-his own story on From Revolution to Reconstruction website: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/geronimo/geronixx.htm

Shortly after, in august 1886, Geronimo made a treaty with General Miles, where he was promised many things, if he gave up the warpath, such as for example livestock, land and assurance that he would not be arrested for past deeds.

In reality this meant that Geronimo and his people would be held as prisoners of war; in Geronimos case; for the rest of his life.

On September 8 in 1886, Geronimo, Natches and the last remaining Apaches, were taken to the train-station in Holbrook Arizona. For Geronimo, this was the last time he ever walked his homelands.

The train stopped in San Antonio Texas, where Geronimo stood trial in the US court.


Geronimo, Lozen, Natchez and captive Apaches, by the
train enroute to Florida.

In a conversation with Geronimos great grandson, Mr Harlyn Geronimo, he said that many white people in San Antonio wanted to kill his great grandfather, on the spot there.

Instead Geronimo and the other Apaches were taken by train, to Fort Pickens (Pensacola ) in Florida – as prisoners of war.
There they had to work hard every day in 2 years. After that they were transferred to the Vernon barracks in Alabama where they were kept for 5 years. The time in Alabama was particularly hard for the Apaches. Many died from tuberculosis – among them the strong female warrior Lozen, and many committed suicide.
At this time Geronimo had married again, and had 3 children.
But according to his own story, the marriages did not turn out well. One of his wives were allowed to return back to the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico, with 2 of their children. There she married again and lived her life. Both children remained there.
Only one daughter stayed with her father.

So after the 5 years in Alabama, the remaining Apaches were transferred to Fort Sill in Oklahoma.That is were Geronimo lived the rest of his days. He died on February 17 in 1909 at fort Sill in Oklahoma – still a prisoner of war.

He never got to see his highest wish fulfilled: that his people and himself would be allowed to return to their homelands, although he tried everything for that to come true.

See Geronimo-his own story on From Revolution to Reconstruction website: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/geronimo/geronixx.htm

Having worked with the traditional Dineh and Hopi People on Black Mesa in Arizona, and listening to them saying over and over again, that forced relocation of Indigenous Peoples, is equal with genocide...Geronimos tragic lifestory, only increases and verifies their words. The ancestral homelands is the very basis for Indigenous Peoples life – their whole existence and happiness, depends upon it.

You would think that this tragic story now had come to and end...that this extraordinary man had faced enough injustice and hardships, but no – the story doesn’t end here.

Today, the great grandson of Geronimo fights in a way noone can even imagen, in their wildest imagination...


It must be about 15 years ago, we heard about this for the first time. Some words here and there, whispered in short sentences. Then over time, came a few articles talking about the Skull and Bones secret society at the Yale University. This secret society are supposed to have a building on the campus, without windows, called the tomb.

Word had it that Prescott Bush: George W Bushs grandfather while stationed at Fort Sill in 1918, together with a couple of friends, dug up the remains of Geronimo and took his skull, femurbone and a priced silverbridle, which were all later put inside the Yale Skull and Bones societys meetingplace at Yale university; the Tomb.

Last year a book on this subject came out...

Today, Geronimos descendants fight to bring clarity to this issue, and the goal is to bring Geronimos remains home; home to the Mountains that he loved with all his heart and dreamed of every day of his life in captivity to see again. Not much to ask, one would think.

Do you think he deserved to be treated like this? To not even be allowed to rest in peace, after his death? And, God forbid, having his earthly remains used in perverse, bizaar rituals by the so called "power-elite" in this world?

What if it were your grandfather? What would you do?

There has to be clarity in this issue, and soon. This great man at least, deserve to have his final resting place in his homeland.

It is too late for him to experience, in this life, the warm wind of the southwest on his face, but please…please allow him to rest in peace, finally.

If you feel that you can help, in any way, let us know. All kind of support will directly be referred to the great grandson of Geronimo: mr Harlyn Geronimo.

#Reference provided by Geronimos great grandson.

For All My Relations in Honor of all the braes who defend the People and Creation.

Article by Carina Gustafsson

The people who journeyed through "Indian country" concisted of 4 women of the Wild-Oak org in northern Europé, and one Dineh man.( Jenny, Elizabeth, Marie, Carina and Bahe )

Comments and inquierys:carina@vild-eken.se


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