Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)

 

 

Director:    Walter Hill.

Starring:    Jason Patric (Lt. Charles Gatewood), Gene Hackman, (Brig. Gen. George Crook), Robert Duvall (Al Sieber), Wes Studi (Geronimo), Matt Damon (Lt. Britton Davis), Rodney A. Brant (Mamgus), Kevin Tighe (Brig. Gen. Nelson Miles), Steve Reevis (Chato), Carlos Paolmino (Sgt. Turkey), Victor Aaron (Ulzana), Stuart Proud Eagle Grant (Sgt. Dutchy), Stephen McHattie (Schoonover), Richard Martin, Jr. (Apache Medicine Man), Roger Callard (Sgt. Mulrey), Scott Wilson (Redondo).

The story of the Apache leader Geronimo.

 

 

 

 


Historical Background:

 

Geronimo  --  In the West, the Apaches under Geronimo were the last major force of independent Indian warriors refusing to be subdued by the US. 

1829  --  Geronimo born on Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Gila River, New Mexico, at that time part of Mexico. He was a Bedonkohe Apache. 

He became a medicine man and a great warrior.

The warrior life of Geronimo was closely linked to his brother-in-law Juh, a Chiricahua chief with a speech impediment (and for whom Geronimo often spoke). 

1858  --  Mexican soldiers massacred his first wife and three children during a supposedly peaceful trading session.  As a result, he hated Mexicans with a passion. 

1876  --  the Chiricahua were forcibly removed to arid land at San Carlos, eastern Arizona; Geronimo and a band of followers fled into Mexico. 

1877-1879  --  Geronimo and Juh remained peaceful on the reservation. 

1881  --  Noch-del-klinne was a Western Apache prophet who told his followers that if they held dances similar to the Ghost Dance, two dead chiefs would come back to life and the whites would be driven away. Noch-del-klinne's dances in the Cibecue Valley attracted more and more Apaches.

1881 (late August)  --  General Eugene Carr at Fort Apache, worried by the prophet, sent 117 troops to arrest the Apache. When they tried to arrest the prophet, the Apache scouts rebelled and a general fight broke out.  Many soldiers and Apaches were killed, including Noch-del-klinne. (This was the only time in the Apache Wars that Apache scouts turned against U.S. troops).  Five of the Apache scouts were court-martialed.

1881 (September)  --  Juh, Chato, Naiche, Geronimo, and 66 other members of the Nednhi band slipped away.

1882 (March 3)  --  three of the revolting Apache scouts, Sergeant Dandy Jim, Sergeant Dead Shot, and Private Skippy, were hung at Fort Grant.

Geronimo fled to a secret camp in the Sierra Madre Mountains where he returned to raiding. 

1882  --  General Crook took over the Department of Arizona.

1882 (July 29)  --  Mexico signed a treaty allowing U.S. troops to chase hostile Apaches across the Mexican border.

1882 (winter)  --  Juh ambushed and killed a party of Mexicans led by the veteran Indian fighter Juan Mata Ortiz.

1883  --  Chihuahuan militia surprised Juh's camp, killing his wife and daughter.

1883  --  Juh's horse slipped on a steep mountain trail and he tumbled into the water and died.  After that, Geronimo led most of the Chiricahuas who refused reservation life.

1883 (May)  --  Crook with 50 soldiers and 200 Indian scouts went into Mexican territory.  There was only a small skirmish, but the fact that the US were in Mexican was serious enough to cause Geronimo to turn himself in at Crook's camp in the Sierra Madre.  Crook accepted Geronimo's promise to return to San Carlos on his own.

Geronimo fought many engagements against Mexican and US troops, but his followers were gradually whittled down to 38 men, women and children. He was able to avoid capture by US troops and the Mexican army for a year. 

1883 (June 23)  --  arrival of Crook along with Nana, Loco, Bonito, and 225 other Chiricahuas in San Carlos, Arizona. 

1884 (late February)  --  Geronimo turned himself in as promised.  He and other Chiricahuas settled along Turkey Creek 15 miles below Fort Apache.

1884 (May)  --  Gen. Crook prohibited alcohol on the reservation (including tizwin, a fermented corn liquor that the Apaches loved). 

1884 (May 15)  --   the Chircahuas got drunk on tizwin and great a disturbance. 

1884 (May 17)  --  Geronimo, Naiche, Nana, and 131 other Chiricahuas left the reservation.  Another source says that after the arrest and imprisonment of the warrior Ka-ya-ten-nae, Geronimo fled with 35 warriors and 109 women and children. 

1886 (March 25)  --  Geronimo and Crook met to negotiate a settlement.  They agreed that the Chiricahua would return to San Carlos after two years in imprisonment in Florida.

General Phillip Sheridan and President Grover Cleveland rejected the agreement, but by that time, Geronimo, Naiche, and forty other Chiricahuas had slipped away.  Sheridan concluded that this mess-up was due to the Apache scouts and ordered Crook to sent the Chiricahuas on the reservation to imprisonment in St. Augustine, Florida (Ft. Marion/Castillo de San Marcos).  Crook was so upset that he resigned. General Nelson Miles was his replacement. 

1886 (April)  --  the first group of Chiricahuas were sent to For Marion, St. Augustine, Florida.

Chato and a group of Chiricahuas with him were arrested as prisoners of war at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (after they had visited President Grover Cleveland in Washington, D. C.).

General Miles and 5,000 troops could not capture Geronimo.

Miles then turned to Captain Charles Gatewood.  Two of Gatewood's Chiricahua scouts, Kayitah and Martine, tracked Geronimo to the Torres Mountains southeast of Fronteras.

1886 (late August)  --  Gatewood met with Geronimo, persuading him to surrender for the fourth and final time.

1886 (September 4)  --  Geronimo surrendered to General Nelson A Miles at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona. 

Geronimo was among the last of the total of 500 Chiricahuas sent to Florida.  He was sent to Fort Pickens (near Pensacola).

1890  --  Crook, working for better treatment for the Chiricahuas, visited them at Mount Vernon, Alabama.  They had been transferred there after 119 of the 498 exiles had died in the overcrowded prisons of Florida. He tried to get them settled at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, but he died on March 21 and the matter was forgotten. 

1894   --  he was moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma along with the other Chiricahuas.  Geronimo became a bit of a celebrity.

1904  -- he appeared in the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.  He sold souvenirs and photographs of himself.

1905  --  he rode in President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade. 

1909  --  he died of pneumonia at Fort Sill, where he is now buried at the Apache Indian Prisoner of War cemetery.

1913  --  the Chiricahuas settled on the Mescalero reservation in central New Mexico.

 

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