Geronimo's Story of His Life
by Geronimo
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Story of His Life

Taken Down and Edited by


Superintendent of Education, Lawton, Oklahoma




Copyright, 1905, by S. M. BARRETT

Copyright, 1906, by DUFFIELD & COMPANY

Published September, 1906


Because he has given me permission to tell my story; because he has read that story and knows I try to speak the truth; because I believe that he is fair-minded and will cause my people to receive justice in the future; and because he is chief of a great people, I dedicate this story of my life to Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States.



The initial idea of the compilation of this work was to give the reading public an authentic record of the private life of the Apache Indians, and to extend to Geronimo as a prisoner of war the courtesy due any captive, i. e., the right to state the causes which impelled him in his opposition to our civilization and laws.

If the Indians' cause has been properly presented, the captives' defense clearly stated, and the general store of information regarding vanishing types increased, I shall be satisfied.

I desire to acknowledge valuable suggestions from Maj. Charles Taylor, Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Dr. J. M. Greenwood, Kansas City, Missouri, and President David R. Boyd, of the University of Oklahoma.

I especially desire in this connection to say that without the kindly advice and assistance of President Theodore Roosevelt this book could not have been written.

Respectfully, S. M. BARRETT. LAWTON, OKLAHOMA. August 14, 1906.





The Apaches







The Mexicans









The White Men









The Old and the New






Geronimo Frontispiece

How the book was made Facing page vi

Dressed as in days of old 8

Naiche (Natches), son of Cochise, hereditary chief of the Chiricahua Apaches. Naiche was Geronimo's lieutenant during the protracted wars in Arizona 14

Last of the Bedonkohe Apache Tribe, Tuklonnen, Naedeste, Nah-ta-neal, Porico (White Horse) 18

Work stock in Apache corral 22

The conquered weapon 30

Apache princess, daughter of Naiche, chief of the Chiricahua Apaches 38

Geronimo, Chihuahua, Nanne, Loco, Ozone 46

Naiche, his mother, his two wives and his children 50

Asa Deklugie, wife and children 66

Apache scouts—Naiche, Goody, John Loco, Porico, Jasen, Asa Deklugie, Kelburn, Sam, Hugh, Captain Seyers 70

Three Apache chieftains—Naiche, son of Coche; Asa, son of Whoa; Charley, son of Victoria 80

Apache camp 86

Apache mission—Valley of Medicine Creek, Fort Sill Military Reservation 96

Asa Deklugie (official interpreter for Geronimo, son of Whoa, chief of the Nedni Apaches, chief elect to succeed Geronimo at the latter's death) 100

Geronimo, Apache war chief 100

Lone Wolfe, chief of Kiowas

Geronimo, Apache war chief 108

Quanna Parker, chief of Comanche Indians 118

Gotebo, war chief, Kiowa Indians 144

Kaytah and Nahteen, Apache scouts who were with General Lawton 152

Emma Tuklonen 162

W. F. Melton, at whose camp in Skeleton Canon Geronimo surrendered 172

Chihuahua and family 190

Mrs. Asa Deklugie, niece of Geronimo and daughter of Chihuahua, a famous Apache chieftain 200

Eva Geronimo, Geronimo's youngest daughter, 16 years old 200

Ready for church 210


I first met Geronimo in the summer of 1904, when I acted for him as interpreter of English into Spanish, and vice versa, in selling a war bonnet. After that he always had a pleasant word for me when we met, but never entered into a general conversation with me until he learned that I had once been wounded by a Mexican. As soon as he was told of this, he came to see me and expressed freely his opinion of the average Mexican, and his aversion to all Mexicans in general.

I invited him to visit me again, which he did, and upon his invitation, I visited him at his tepee in the Fort Sill Military reservation.

In the summer of 1905 Dr. J. M. Greenwood, superintendent of schools at Kansas City, Missouri, visited me, and I took him to see the chief. Geronimo was quite formal and reserved until Dr. Greenwood said, "I am a friend of General Howard, whom I have heard speak of you." "Come," said Geronimo, and led the way to a shade, had seats brought for us, put on his war bonnet, and served watermelon a l'Apache (cut in big chunks), while he talked freely and cheerfully. When we left he gave us a pressing invitation to visit him again.

In a few days the old chief came to see me and asked about "my father." I said "you mean the old gentleman from Kansas City—he has returned to his home." "He is you father?" said Geronimo. "No," I said, "my father died twenty-five years ago, Dr. Greenwood is only my friend." After a moment's silence the old Indian spoke again, this time in a tone of voice intended to carry conviction, or at least to allow no further discussion. "Your natural father is dead, this man has been your friend and adviser from youth. By adoption he is your father. Tell him he is welcome to come to my home at any time." It was of no use to explain any more, for the old man had determined not to understand my relation to Dr. Greenwood except in accordance with Indian customs, and I let the matter drop.

In the latter part of that summer I asked the old chief to allow me to publish some of the things he had told me, but he objected, saying, however, that if I would pay him, and if the officers in charge did not object, he would tell me the whole story of his life. I immediately called at the fort (Fort Sill) and asked the officer in charge, Lieutenant Purington, for permission to write the life of Geronimo. I was promptly informed that the privilege would not be granted. Lieutenant Purington explained to me the many depredations committed by Geronimo and his warriors, and the enormous cost of subduing the Apaches, adding that the old Apache deserved to be hanged rather than spoiled by so much attention from civilians. A suggestion from me that our government had paid many soldiers and officers to go to Arizona and kill Geronimo and the Apaches, and that they did not seem to know how to do it, did not prove very gratifying to the pride of the regular army officer, and I decided to seek elsewhere for permission. Accordingly I wrote to President Roosevelt that here was an old Indian who had been held a prisoner of war for twenty years and had never been given a chance to tell his side of the story, and asked that Geronimo be granted permission to tell for publication, in his own way, the story of his life, and that he be guaranteed that the publication of his story would not affect unfavorably the Apache prisoners of war. By return mail I received word that the authority had been granted. In a few days I received word from Fort Sill that the President had ordered the officer in charge to grant permission as requested. An interview was requested that I might receive the instructions of the War Department. When I went to Fort Sill the officer in command handed me the following brief, which constituted my instructions:

LAWTON, OKLAHOMA, Aug. 12th, 1905. Geronimo,—Apache Chief— S. M. BARRETT, Supt. Schools.

Letter to the President stating that above-mentioned desires to tell his life story that it may be published, and requests permission to tell it in his own way, and also desires assurance that what he has to say will in no way work a hardship for the Apache tribe.

* * * * *

1st Endorsement.


Respectfully referred, by direction of the Acting Chief of Staff, through headquarters, Department of Texas, to the Officer In Charge of the Apache prisoners of war at Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory, for remark and recommendation.

(Signed) E. F. LADD, Military Secretary.

* * * * *

2d Endorsement.


Respectfully transmitted to 1st Lieut. George A. Purington, 8th Cavalry, In Charge of Apache prisoners. (Thro' Commanding Officer, Fort Sill, O. T.)

By Command of Brigadier General Lee.

(Signed) C. D. ROBERTS, Captain, 7th Infantry, Acting Military Secretary.

* * * * *

3d Endorsement.

FORT SILL, O. T., Aug. 31st, 1905.

Respectfully referred to 1st Lieut. G. A. Purington, 8th Cavalry, Officer in Charge of Apache prisoners of war, for remark and recommendation.

By Order of Captain Dade.

(Signed) JAMES LONGSTREET, 1st. Lieut & Sqdn. Adjt., 13th Cavalry. Adjutant.

* * * * *

4th Endorsement.

FORT SILL, O. T., Sept. 2d, 1905.

Respectfully returned to the Adjutant, Fort Sill, O. T. I can see no objection to Geronimo telling the story of his past life, providing he tells the truth. I would recommend that Mr. S. M. Barrett be held responsible for what is written and published.

(Signed) GEO. A. PURINGTON, 1st. Lieut. 8th Cavalry, In Charge of Apache prisoners of war.

* * * * *

5th Endorsement.

FORT SILL, O. T., Sept. 4th, 1905.

Respectfully returned to the Military Secretary, Dept. of Texas, San Antonio, Texas, inviting attention to 4th endorsement hereon. It is recommended that the manuscript be submitted before publication to Lieut. Purington, who can pass upon the truth of the story.

(Signed) A. L. DADE, Captain, 13th Cavalry, Commanding.

* * * * *

6th Endorsement.


Respectfully returned to the Military Secretary, War Department, Washington, D. C., inviting attention to the preceding endorsement hereon, which is concurred in.

(Signed) J. M. LEE, Brigadier General, Commanding.

* * * * *

7th Endorsement.


Respectfully submitted to the Honorable the Secretary of War, inviting attention to the foregoing endorsements.

(Signed) J. C. BATES, Major General, Acting Chief of Staff.

* * * * *

8th Endorsement.

WAR DEPARTMENT, September 15th, 1905.

Respectfully returned to the Acting Chief of Staff to grant the necessary authority in this matter, through official channels, with the express understanding that the manuscript of the book shall be submitted to him before publication. Upon receipt of such manuscript the Chief of Staff will submit it to such person as he may select as competent to make a proper and critical inspection of the proposed publication.

(Signed) ROBERT SHAW OLIVER, Acting Secretary of War.

* * * * *

9th Endorsement.


Respectfully returned, by direction of the Acting Chief of Staff, to the Commanding General, Dept. of Texas, who will give the necessary instructions for carrying out the directions of the Acting Secretary of War, contained in the 8th endorsement. It is desired that Mr. Barrett be advised accordingly.

(Signed) HENRY P. MCCAIN, Military Secretary.

* * * * *

10th Endorsement.


Respectfully referred to the Commanding Officer, Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory, who will give the necessary instructions for carrying out the direction of the Acting Secretary of War contained in the 8th endorsement hereon.

This paper will be shown and fully explained to Mr. Barrett, and then returned to these headquarters.

By order of Colonel Hughes.

(Signed) GEO. VAN HORN MOSELEY, 1st. Lieut. 1st Cavalry, Aide-de-Camp, Acting Military Secretary.

Early in October I secured the services of an educated Indian, Asa Deklugie, son of Whoa, chief of the Nedni Apaches, as interpreter, and the work of compiling the book began.

Geronimo refused to talk when a stenographer was present, or to wait for corrections or questions when telling the story. Each day he had in mind what he would tell and told it in a very clear, brief manner. He might prefer to talk at his own tepee, at Asa Deklugie's house, in some mountain dell, or as he rode in a swinging gallop across the prairie; wherever his fancy led him, there he told whatever he wished to tell and no more. On the day that he first gave any portion of his autobiography he would not be questioned about any details, nor would he add another word, but simply said, "Write what I have spoken," and left us to remember and write the story without one bit of assistance. He would agree, however, to come on another day to my study, or any place designated by me, and listen to the reproduction (in Apache) of what had been told, and at such times would answer all questions or add information wherever he could be convinced that it was necessary.

He soon became so tired of book making that he would have abandoned the task but for the fact that he had agreed to tell the complete story. When he once gives his word, nothing will turn him from fulfilling his promise. A very striking illustration of this was furnished by him early in January, 1906. He had agreed to come to my study on a certain date, but at the appointed hour the interpreter came alone, and said that Geronimo was very sick with cold and fever. He had come to tell me that we must appoint another date, as he feared the old warrior had an attack of pneumonia. It was a cold day and the interpreter drew a chair up to the grate to warm himself after the exposure of the long ride. Just as he was seating himself he looked out of the window, then rose quickly, and without speaking pointed to a rapidly moving object coming our way. In a moment I recognized the old chief riding furiously (evidently trying to arrive as soon as the interpreter did), his horse flecked with foam and reeling from exhaustion. Dismounting he came in and said in a hoarse whisper, "I promised to come. I am here."

I explained to him that I had not expected him to come on such a stormy day, and that in his physical condition he must not try to work. He stood for some time, and then without speaking left the room, remounted his tired pony, and with bowed head faced ten long miles of cold north wind—he had kept his promise.

When he had finished his story I submitted the manuscript to Major Charles W. Taylor, Eighteenth Cavalry, commandant, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, who gave me some valuable suggestions as to additional related information which I asked Geronimo to give. In most cases the old chief gave the desired information, but in some instances he refused, stating his reasons for so doing.

When the added information had been incorporated I submitted the manuscript to President Roosevelt, from whose letter I quote: "This is a very interesting volume which you have in manuscript, but I would advise that you disclaim responsibility in all cases where the reputation of an individual is assailed."

In accordance with that suggestion, I have appended notes throughout the book disclaiming responsibility for adverse criticisms of any persons mentioned by Geronimo.

On June 2d, 1906, I transmitted the complete manuscript to the War Department. The following quotation is from the letter of transmission:

"In accordance with endorsement number eight of the 'Brief' submitted to me by the commanding officer of Fort Sill, which endorsement constituted the instructions of the Department, I submit herewith manuscript of the Autobiography of Geronimo.

"The manuscript has been submitted to the President, and at his suggestion I have disclaimed any responsibility for the criticisms (made by Geronimo) of individuals mentioned."

Six weeks after the manuscript was forwarded, Thomas C. Barry, Brigadier General, Assistant to the Chief of Staff, sent to the President the following:


"Subject: Manuscript of the Autobiography of Geronimo. The paper herewith, which was referred to this office on July 6th, with instructions to report as to whether there is anything objectionable in it, is returned.

"The manuscript is an interesting autobiography of a notable Indian, made by himself. There are a number of passages which, from the departmental point of view, are decidedly objectionable. These are found on pages 73, 74, 90, 91, and 97, and are indicated by marginal lines in red. The entire manuscript appears in a way important as showing the Indian side of a prolonged controversy, but it is believed that the document, either in whole or in part, should not receive the approval of the War Department."

The memorandum is published that the objections of the War Department may be made known to the public.

The objection is raised to the mention on pages seventy-three and seventy-four of the manuscript of an attack upon Indians in a tent at Apache Pass or Bowie, by U. S. soldiers. The statement of Geronimo is, however, substantially confirmed by L. C. Hughes, editor of The Star, Tucson, Arizona.

On pages ninety and ninety-one of the manuscript, Geronimo criticised General Crook. This criticism is simply Geronimo's private opinion of General Crook. We deem it a personal matter and leave it without comment, as it in no way concerns the history of the Apaches.

On page ninety-seven of the manuscript Geronimo accuses General Miles of bad faith. Of course, General Miles made the treaty with the Apaches, but we know very well that he is not responsible for the way the Government subsequently treated the prisoners of war. However, Geronimo cannot understand this and fixes upon General Miles the blame for what he calls unjust treatment.

One could not expect the Department of War to approve adverse criticisms of its own acts, but it is especially gratifying that such a liberal view has been taken of these criticisms, and also that such a frank statement of the merits of the Autobiography is submitted in the memorandum. Of course neither the President nor the War Department is in any way responsible for what Geronimo says; he has simply been granted the opportunity to state his own case as he sees it.

The fact that Geronimo has told the story in his own way is doubtless the only excuse necessary to offer for the many unconventional features of this work.






In the beginning the world was covered with darkness. There was no sun, no day. The perpetual night had no moon or stars.

There were, however, all manner of beasts and birds. Among the beasts were many hideous, nameless monsters, as well as dragons, lions, tigers, wolves, foxes, beavers, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, and all manner of creeping things such as lizards and serpents. Mankind could not prosper under such conditions, for the beasts and serpents destroyed all human offspring.

All creatures had the power of speech and were gifted with reason.

There were two tribes of creatures: the birds or the feathered tribe and the beasts. The former were organized under their chief, the eagle.

These tribes often held councils, and the birds wanted light admitted. This the beasts repeatedly refused to do. Finally the birds made war against the beasts.

The beasts were armed with clubs, but the eagle had taught his tribe to use bows and arrows. The serpents were so wise that they could not all be killed. One took refuge in a perpendicular cliff of a mountain in Arizona, and his eye (changed into a brilliant stone) may be seen in that rock to this day. The bears, when killed, would each be changed into several other bears, so that the more bears the feathered tribe killed, the more there were. The dragon could not be killed, either, for he was covered with four coats of horny scales, and the arrows would not penetrate these. One of the most hideous, vile monsters (nameless) was proof against arrows, so the eagle flew high up in the air with a round, white stone, and let it fall on this monster's head, killing him instantly. This was such a good service that the stone was called sacred. (A symbol of this stone is used in the tribal game of Kah.[1]) They fought for many days, but at last the birds won the victory.

After this war was over, although some evil beasts remained, the birds were able to control the councils, and light was admitted. Then mankind could live and prosper. The eagle was chief in this good fight: therefore, his feathers were worn by man as emblems of wisdom, justice, and power.

Among the few human beings that were yet alive was a woman who had been blessed with many children, but these had always been destroyed by the beasts. If by any means she succeeded in eluding the others, the dragon, who was very wise and very evil, would come himself and eat her babes.

After many years a son of the rainstorm was born to her and she dug for him a deep cave. The entrance to this cave she closed and over the spot built a camp fire. This concealed the babe's hiding place and kept him warm. Every day she would remove the fire and descend into the cave, where the child's bed was, to nurse him; then she would return and rebuild the camp fire.

Frequently the dragon would come and question her, but she would say, "I have no more children; you have eaten all of them."

When the child was larger he would not always stay in the cave, for he sometimes wanted to run and play. Once the dragon saw his tracks. Now this perplexed and enraged the old dragon, for he could not find the hiding place of the boy; but he said that he would destroy the mother if she did not reveal the child's hiding place. The poor mother was very much troubled; she could not give up her child, but she knew the power and cunning of the dragon, therefore she lived in constant fear.

Soon after this the boy said that he wished to go hunting. The mother would not give her consent. She told him of the dragon, the wolves, and the serpents; but he said, "To-morrow I go."

At the boy's request his uncle (who was the only man then living) made a little bow and some arrows for him, and the two went hunting the next day. They trailed the deer far up the mountain and finally the boy killed a buck. His uncle showed him how to dress the deer and broil the meat. They broiled two hind quarters, one for the child and one for his uncle. When the meat was done they placed it on some bushes to cool. Just then the huge form of the dragon appeared. The child was not afraid, but his uncle was so dumb with fright that he did not speak or move.

The dragon took the boy's parcel of meat and went aside with it. He placed the meat on another bush and seated himself beside it. Then he said, "This is the child I have been seeking. Boy, you are nice and fat, so when I have eaten this venison I shall eat you." The boy said, "No, you shall not eat me, and you shall not eat that meat." So he walked over to where the dragon sat and took the meat back to his own seat. The dragon said, "I like your courage, but you are foolish; what do you think you could do?" "Well," said the boy, "I can do enough to protect myself, as you may find out." Then the dragon took the meat again, and then the boy retook it. Four times in all the dragon took the meat, and after the fourth time the boy replaced the meat he said, "Dragon, will you fight me?" The dragon said, "Yes, in whatever way you like." The boy said, "I will stand one hundred paces distant from you and you may have four shots at me with your bow and arrows, provided that you will then exchange places with me and give me four shots." "Good," said the dragon. "Stand up."

Then the dragon took his bow, which was made of a large pine tree. He took four arrows from his quiver; they were made of young pine tree saplings, and each arrow was twenty feet in length. He took deliberate aim, but just as the arrow left the bow the boy made a peculiar sound and leaped into the air. Immediately the arrow was shivered into a thousand splinters, and the boy was seen standing on the top of a bright rainbow over the spot where the dragon's aim had been directed. Soon the rainbow was gone and the boy was standing on the ground again. Four times this was repeated, then the boy said, "Dragon, stand here; it is my time to shoot." The dragon said, "All right; your little arrows cannot pierce my first coat of horn, and I have three other coats—shoot away." The boy shot an arrow, striking the dragon just over the heart, and one coat of the great horny scales fell to the ground. The next shot another coat, and then another, and the dragon's heart was exposed. Then the dragon trembled, but could not move. Before the fourth arrow was shot the boy said, "Uncle, you are dumb with fear; you have not moved; come here or the dragon will fall on you." His uncle ran toward him. Then he sped the fourth arrow with true aim, and it pierced the dragon's heart. With a tremendous roar the dragon rolled down the mountain side—down four precipices into a canon below.

Immediately storm clouds swept the mountains, lightning flashed, thunder rolled, and the rain poured. When the rainstorm had passed, far down in the canon below, they could see fragments of the huge body of the dragon lying among the rocks, and the bones of this dragon may still be found there.

This boy's name was Apache. Usen[2] taught him how to prepare herbs for medicine, how to hunt, and how to fight. He was the first chief of the Indians and wore the eagle's feathers as the sign of justice, wisdom, and power. To him, and to his people, as they were created, Usen gave homes in the land of the west.


[1] See Chapter IV.

[2] Usen is the Apache word for God. It is used here because it implies the attributes of deity that are held in their primitive religion. "Apache" means "Enemy."



The Apache Indians are divided into six sub-tribes. To one of these, the Be-don-ko-he, I belong.

Our tribe inhabited that region of mountainous country which lies west from the east line of Arizona, and south from the headwaters of the Gila River.

East of us lived the Chi-hen-ne (Ojo Caliente), (Hot Springs) Apaches. Our tribe never had any difficulty with them. Victoria, their chief, was always a friend to me. He always helped our tribe when we asked him for help. He lost his life in the defense of the rights of his people. He was a good man and a brave warrior. His son Charlie now lives here in this reservation with us.

North of us lived the White Mountain Apaches. They were not always on the best of terms with our tribe, yet we seldom had any war with them. I knew their chief, Hash-ka-ai-la, personally, and I considered him a good warrior. Their range was next to that of the Navajo Indians, who were not of the same blood as the Apaches. We held councils with all Apache tribes, but never with the Navajo Indians. However, we traded with them and sometimes visited them.

To the west of our country ranged the Chi-e-a-hen Apaches. They had two chiefs within my time, Co-si-to and Co-da-hoo-yah. They were friendly, but not intimate with our tribe.

South of us lived the Cho-kon-en (Chiricahua) Apaches, whose chief in the old days was Co-chise, and later his son, Naiche. This tribe was always on the most friendly terms with us. We were often in camp and on the trail together. Naiche, who was my companion in arms, is now my companion in bondage.

To the south and west of us lived the Ned-ni Apaches. Their chief was Whoa, called by the Mexicans Capitan Whoa. They were our firm friends. The land of this tribe lies partly in Old Mexico and partly in Arizona.[3] Whoa and I often camped and fought side by side as brothers. My enemies were his enemies, my friends his friends. He is dead now, but his son Asa is interpreting this story for me.

Still the four tribes (Bedonkohe, Chokonen, Chihenne, and Nedni), who were fast friends in the days of freedom, cling together as they decrease in number. Only the destruction of all our people would dissolve our bonds of friendship.

We are vanishing from the earth, yet I cannot think we are useless or Usen would not have created us. He created all tribes of men and certainly had a righteous purpose in creating each.

For each tribe of men Usen created He also made a home. In the land created for any particular tribe He placed whatever would be best for the welfare of that tribe.

When Usen created the Apaches He also created their homes in the West. He gave to them such grain, fruits, and game as they needed to eat. To restore their health when disease attacked them He made many different herbs to grow. He taught them where to find these herbs, and how to prepare them for medicine. He gave them a pleasant climate and all they needed for clothing and shelter was at hand.

Thus it was in the beginning: the Apaches and their homes each created for the other by Usen himself. When they are taken from these homes they sicken and die. How long[4] will it be until it is said, there are no Apaches?


[3] The boundary lines established at different times between Mexico and the United States did not conform to the boundary lines of these Apache tribes, of course, and the Indians soon saw and took advantage of the international questions arising from the conflicting interests of the two governments.

[4] The Apache Indians held prisoners of war are greatly decreasing in numbers. There seems to be no particular cause, but nevertheless their numbers grow smaller.



I was born in No-doyohn Canon, Arizona, June, 1829.

In that country which lies around the headwaters of the Gila River I was reared. This range was our fatherland; among these mountains our wigwams were hidden; the scattered valleys contained our fields; the boundless prairies, stretching away on every side, were our pastures; the rocky caverns were our burying places.

I was fourth[5] in a family of eight children—four boys and four girls. Of that family, only myself, my brother, Porico (White Horse), and my sister, Nah-da-ste, are yet alive. We are held as prisoners of war in this Military Reservation (Fort Sill).

As a babe I rolled on the dirt floor of my father's tepee, hung in my tsoch (Apache name for cradle) at my mother's back, or suspended from the bough of a tree. I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds, and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes.

When a child my mother taught me the legends of our people; taught me of the sun and sky,' the moon and stars, the clouds and storms. She also taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom, and protection. We never prayed against any person, but if we had aught against any individual we ourselves took vengeance. We were taught that Usen does not care for the petty quarrels of men.

My father had often told me of the brave deeds of our warriors, of the pleasures of the chase, and the glories of the warpath.

With my brothers and sisters I played about my father's home. Sometimes we played at hide-and-seek among the rocks and pines; sometimes we loitered in the shade of the cottonwood trees or sought the shudock (a kind of wild cherry) while our parents worked in the field. Sometimes we played that we were warriors. We would practice stealing upon some object that represented an enemy, and in our childish imitation often perform the feats of war. Sometimes we would hide away from our mother to see if she could find us, and often when thus concealed go to sleep and perhaps remain hidden for many hours.

When we were old enough to be of real service we went to the field with our parents: not to play, but to toil. When the crops were to be planted we broke the ground with wooden hoes. We planted the corn in straight rows, the beans among the corn, and the melons and pumpkins in irregular order over the field. We cultivated these crops as there was need.

Our field usually contained about two acres of ground. The fields were never fenced. It was common for many families to cultivate land in the same valley and share the burden of protecting the growing crops from destruction by the ponies of the tribe, or by deer and other wild animals.

Melons were gathered as they were consumed. In the autumn pumpkins and beans were gathered and placed in bags or baskets; ears of corn were tied together by the husks, and then the harvest was carried on the backs of ponies up to our homes. Here the corn was shelled, and all the harvest stored away in caves or other secluded places to be used in winter.

We never fed corn to our ponies, but if we kept them up in the winter time we gave them fodder to eat. We had no cattle or other domestic animals except our dogs and ponies.

We did not cultivate tobacco, but found it growing wild. This we cut and cured in autumn, but if the supply ran out the leaves from the stalks left standing served our purpose. All Indians smoked[6]—men and women. No boy was allowed to smoke until he had hunted alone and killed large game—wolves and bears. Unmarried women were not prohibited from smoking, but were considered immodest if they did so. Nearly all matrons smoked.

Besides grinding the corn (by hand with stone mortars and pestles) for bread, we sometimes crushed it and soaked it, and after it had fermented made from this juice a "tis-win," which had the power of intoxication, and was very highly prized by the Indians. This work was done by the squaws and children. When berries or nuts were to be gathered the small children and the squaws would go in parties to hunt them, and sometimes stay all day. When they went any great distance from camp they took ponies to carry the baskets.

I frequently went with these parties, and upon one of these excursions a woman named Cho-ko-le got lost from the party and was riding her pony through a thicket in search of her friends. Her little dog was following as she slowly made her way through the thick underbrush and pine trees. All at once a grizzly bear rose in her path and attacked the pony. She jumped off and her pony escaped, but the bear attacked her, so she fought him the best she could with her knife. Her little dog, by snapping at the bear's heels and detracting his attention from the woman, enabled her for some time to keep pretty well out of his reach. Finally the grizzly struck her over the head, tearing off almost her whole scalp. She fell, but did not lose consciousness, and while prostrate struck him four good licks with her knife, and he retreated. After he had gone she replaced her torn scalp and bound it up as best she could, then she turned deathly sick and had to lie down. That night her pony came into camp with his load of nuts and berries, but no rider. The Indians hunted for her, but did not find her until the second day. They carried her home, and under the treatment of their medicine men all her wounds were healed.

The Indians knew what herbs to use for medicine, how to prepare them, and how to give the medicine. This they had been taught by Usen in the beginning, and each succeeding generation had men who were skilled in the art of healing.

In gathering the herbs, in preparing them, and in administering the medicine, as much faith was held in prayer as in the actual effect of the medicine. Usually about eight persons worked together in making medicine, and there were forms of prayer and incantations to attend each stage of the process. Four attended to the incantations and four to the preparation of the herbs.

Some of the Indians were skilled in cutting out bullets, arrow heads, and other missiles with which warriors were wounded. I myself have done much of this, using a common dirk or butcher knife.[7]

Small children wore very little clothing in winter and none in the summer. Women usually wore a primitive skirt, which consisted of a piece of cotton cloth fastened about the waist, and extending to the knees. Men wore breech cloths and moccasins. In winter they had shirts and leggings in addition.

Frequently when the tribe was in camp a number of boys and girls, by agreement, would steal away and meet at a place several miles distant, where they could play all day free from tasks. They were never punished for these frolics; but if their hiding places were discovered they were ridiculed.


[5] Four is a magic number with the Bedonkohe Apaches. The dragon had four coats of scales; he took little Apache's meat four times; they (the dragon and Apache) exchanged four shots—the dragon rolled down four precipices. There are four moccasins used in the tribal game of Kah, and only four plays that can be made. A boy must accompany the warriors four times on the warpath before he can be admitted to the council.

Geronimo is the fourth of a family of four boys and four girls. He has had four wives that were full-blood Bedonkohe Apaches, and four that were part Bedonkohe Apache and part other Apache blood. Four of his children have been killed by Mexicans and four have been held in bondage by the U. S. Government. He firmly believes in destiny and in the magic of the number four. Besides Geronimo, only four full-blood Bedonkohe Apaches are now living. They are Porico (White Horse), Nah-da-ste, Moh-ta-neal, and To-klon-nen.

[6] The Apaches did not smoke the peace pipe, unless it was proposed by some other Indians. They had no large pipes; in fact, they usually smoked cigarettes made by rolling the tobacco in wrappers of oak leaves.

[7] The only foundation for the statement, frequently made, that Geronimo was a medicine man.



To celebrate each noted event a feast and dance would be given. Perhaps only our own people, perhaps neighboring tribes would be invited. These festivities usually lasted for about four days. By day we feasted, by night under the direction of some chief we danced. The music for our dance was singing led by the warriors, and accompanied by beating the esadadedne (buckskin-on-a-hoop). No words were sung—only the tones. When the feasting and dancing were over we would have horse races, foot races, wrestling, jumping, and all sorts of games (gambling).

Among these games the most noted was the tribal game of Kah (foot). It is played as follows: Four moccasins are placed about four feet apart in holes in the ground, dug in a row on one side of the camp, and on the opposite side a similar parallel row. At night a camp fire is started between these two rows of moccasins, and the players are arranged on sides, one or any number on each side. The score is kept by a bundle of sticks, from which each side takes a stick for every point won. First one side takes the bone (a symbol of the white rock used by the eagle in slaying the nameless monster—see Chapter I), puts up blankets between the four moccasins and the fire so that the opposing team cannot observe their movements, and then begin to sing the legends of creation. The side having the bone represents the feathered tribe, the opposite side represents the beasts. The players representing the birds do all the singing, and while singing hide the bone in one of the moccasins, then the blankets are thrown down. They continue to sing, but as soon as the blankets are thrown down the chosen player from the opposing team, armed with a war club, comes to their side of the camp fire and with his club strikes the moccasin in which he thinks the bone is hidden. If he strikes the right moccasin, his side gets the bone, and in turn represents the birds, while the opposing team must keep quiet and guess in turn. There are only four plays; three that lose and one that wins. When all the sticks are gone from the bundle the side having the largest number of sticks is counted winner.

This game is seldom played except as a gambling game, but for that purpose it is the most popular game known to the tribe. Usually the game lasts four or five hours. It is never played in daytime.

After the games are all finished the visitors say, "We are satisfied," and the camp is broken up. I was always glad when the dances and feasts were announced. So were all the other young people.

Our life also had a religious side. We had no churches, no religious organizations, no sabbath day, no holidays, and yet we worshiped. Sometimes the whole tribe would assemble to sing and pray; sometimes a smaller number, perhaps only two or three. The songs had a few words, but were not formal. The singer would occasionally put in such words as he wished instead of the usual tone sound. Sometimes we prayed in silence; sometimes each one prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us. At other times one would rise and speak to us of our duties[8] to each other and to Usen. Our services were short.

When disease or pestilence abounded we were assembled and questioned by our leaders to ascertain what evil we had done, and how Usen could be satisfied. Sometimes sacrifice was deemed necessary. Sometimes the offending one was punished.

If an Apache had allowed his aged parents to suffer for food or shelter, if he had neglected or abused the sick, if he had profaned our religion, or had been unfaithful, he might be banished from the tribe.

The Apaches had no prisons as white men have. Instead of sending their criminals into prison they sent them out of their tribe. These faithless, cruel, lazy, or cowardly members of the tribe were excluded in such a manner that they could not join any other tribe. Neither could they have any protection from our unwritten tribal laws. Frequently these outlaw Indians banded together and committed depredations which were charged against the regular tribe. However, the life of an outlaw Indian was a hard lot, and their bands never became very large; besides, these bands frequently provoked the wrath of the tribe and secured their own destruction.

When I was about eight or ten years old I began to follow the chase, and to me this was never work.

Out on the prairies, which ran up to our mountain homes, wandered herds of deer, antelope, elk, and buffalo, to be slaughtered when we needed them.

Usually we hunted buffalo on horseback, killing them with arrows and spears. Their skins were used to make tepees and bedding; their flesh, to eat.

It required more skill to hunt the deer than any other animal. We never tried to approach a deer except against the wind. Frequently we would spend hours in stealing upon grazing deer. If they were in the open we would crawl long distances on the ground, keeping a weed or brush before us, so that our approach would not be noticed. Often we could kill several out of one herd before the others would run away. Their flesh was dried and packed in vessels, and would keep in this condition for many months. The hide of the deer was soaked in water and ashes and the hair removed, and then the process of tanning continued until the buckskin was soft and pliable. Perhaps no other animal was more valuable to us than the deer.

In the forests and along the streams were many wild turkeys. These we would drive to the plains, then slowly ride up toward them until they were almost tired out. When they began to drop and hide we would ride in upon them and by swinging from the side of our horses, catch them. If one started to fly we would ride swiftly under him and kill him with a short stick, or hunting club. In this way we could usually get as many wild turkeys as we could carry home on a horse.

There were many rabbits in our range, and we also hunted them on horseback. Our horses were trained to follow the rabbit at full speed, and as they approached them we would swing from one side of the horse and strike the rabbit with our hunting club. If he was too far away we would throw the stick and kill him. This was great sport when we were boys, but as warriors we seldom hunted small game.

There were many fish in the streams, but as we did not eat them, we did not try to catch or kill them. Small boys sometimes threw stones at them or shot at them for practice with their bows and arrows. Usen did not intend snakes, frogs, or fishes to be eaten. I have never eaten of them.

There were many eagles in the mountains. These we hunted for their feathers. It required great skill to steal upon an eagle, for besides having sharp eyes, he is wise and never stops at any place where he does not have a good view of the surrounding country.

I have killed many bears with a spear, but was never injured in a fight with one. I have killed several mountain lions with arrows, and one with a spear. Both bears and mountain lions are good for food and valuable for their skin. When we killed them we carried them home on our horses. We often made quivers for our arrows from the skin of the mountain lion. These were very pretty and very durable.

During my minority we had never seen a missionary or a priest. We had never seen a white man. Thus quietly lived the Be-don-ko-he Apaches.


[8] The Apaches recognized no duties to any man outside their tribe. It was no sin to kill enemies or to rob them. However, if they accepted any favor from a stranger, or allowed him to share their comforts in any way, he became (by adoption) related to the tribe and they must recognize their duty to him.



My grandfather, Maco, had been our chief. I never saw him, but my father often told me of the great size, strength, and sagacity of this old warrior. Their principal wars had been with the Mexicans. They had some wars with other tribes of Indians also, but were seldom at peace for any great length of time with the Mexican towns.

Maco died when my father was but a young warrior, and Mangus-Colorado[9] became chief of the Bedonkohe Apaches. When I was but a small boy my father died, after having been sick for some time. When he passed away, carefully the watchers closed his eyes, then they arrayed him in his best clothes, painted his face afresh, wrapped a rich blanket around him, saddled his favorite horse, bore his arms in front of him, and led his horse behind, repeating in wailing tones his deeds of valor as they carried his body to a cave in the mountain. Then they slew his horses, and we gave away all of his other property,[10] as was customary in our tribe, after which his body was deposited in the cave, his arms beside him. His grave is hidden by piles of stone. Wrapped in splendor he lies in seclusion, and the winds in the pines sing a low requiem over the dead warrior.

After my father's death I assumed the care of my mother. She never married again, although according to the customs of our tribe she might have done so immediately after his death. Usually, however, the widow who has children remains single after her husband's death for two or three years; but the widow without children marries again immediately. After a warrior's death his widow returns to her people and may be given away or sold by her father or brothers. My mother chose to live with me, and she never desired to marry again. We lived near our old home and I supported her.

In 1846, being seventeen years of age, I was admitted to the council of the warriors. Then I was very happy, for I could go wherever I wanted and do whatever I liked. I had not been under the control of any individual, but the customs of our tribe prohibited me from sharing the glories of the warpath until the council admitted me. When opportunity offered, after this, I could go on the warpath with my tribe. This would be glorious. I hoped soon to serve my people in battle. I had long desired to fight with our warriors.

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[11] 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.


[9] Maco was chief of the Nedni Apaches. His son (Geronimo's father) had married a Bedonkohe Apache (Geronimo's mother) and joined her tribe, thereby losing his right to rule by heredity. By this it will be seen Geronimo could not become chief by hereditary right, although his grandfather was a chieftain. It is also shown that Geronimo's father could not be chief, hence the accession of Mangus-Colorado.

[10] The Apaches will not keep any of the property of a deceased relative. Their unwritten tribal laws forbid it, because they think that otherwise the children or other relatives of one who had much property might be glad when their father or relatives died.

[11] Beads were obtained from the Mexicans. The Apaches also got money from the Mexicans, but deemed it of no value, and either gave it to their children to play with or threw it away.





Part I—The Massacre

In the summer of 1858, being at peace with the Mexican towns as well as with all the neighboring Indian tribes, we went south into Old Mexico to trade. Our whole tribe (Bedonkohe Apaches) went through Sonora toward Casa Grande, our destination, but just before reaching that place we stopped at another Mexican town called by the Indians "Kas-ki-yeh." Here we stayed for several days, camping just outside the city. Every day we would go into town to trade, leaving our camp under the protection of a small guard so that our arms, supplies, and women and children would not be disturbed during our absence.

Late one afternoon when returning from town we were met by a few women and children who told us that Mexican troops from some other town had attacked our camp, killed all the warriors of the guard, captured all our ponies, secured our arms, destroyed our supplies, and killed many of our women and children. Quickly we separated, concealing ourselves as best we could until nightfall, when we assembled at our appointed place of rendezvous—a thicket by the river. Silently we stole in one by one: sentinels were placed, and, when all were counted, I found that my aged mother, my young wife, and my three small children were among the slain. There were no lights in camp, so without being noticed I silently turned away and stood by the river. How long I stood there I do not know, but when I saw the warriors arranging for a council I took my place.

That night I did not give my vote for or against any measure; but it was decided that as there were only eighty warriors left, and as we were without arms or supplies, and were furthermore surrounded by the Mexicans far inside their own territory, we could not hope to fight successfully. So our chief, Mangus-Colorado, gave the order to start at once in perfect silence for our homes in Arizona, leaving the dead upon the field.

I stood until all had passed, hardly knowing what I would do—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 finally followed the tribe silently, keeping just within hearing distance of the soft noise of the feet of the retreating Apaches.

The next morning some of the Indians killed a small amount of game and we halted long enough for the tribe to cook and eat, when the march was resumed. I had killed no game, and did not eat. During the first march as well as while we were camped at this place I spoke to no one and no one spoke to me—there was nothing to say.

For two days and three nights we were on forced marches, stopping only for meals, then we made a camp near the Mexican border, where we rested two days. Here I took some food and talked with the other Indians who had lost in the massacre, but none had lost as I had, for I had lost all.

Within a few days we arrived at our own settlement. There were the decorations that Alope had made—and there were the playthings of our little ones. I burned[12] them all, even our tepee. I also burned my mother's tepee and destroyed all her property.

I was never again contented in our quiet home. True, I could visit my father's grave, but I had vowed vengeance upon the Mexican troopers who had wronged me, and whenever I came near his grave or saw anything to remind me of former happy days my heart would ache for revenge upon Mexico.

Part II—Revenge

As soon as we had again collected some arms and supplies Mangus-Colorado, our chief, called a council and found that all our warriors were willing to take the warpath against Mexico. I was appointed to solicit the aid of other tribes in this war.

When I went to the Chokonen (Chiricahua) Apaches, Cochise, their chief, called a council at early dawn. Silently the warriors assembled at an open place in a mountain dell and took their seats on the ground, arranged in rows according to their ranks. Silently they sat smoking. At a signal from the chief I arose and presented my cause as follows:

"Kinsman, you have heard what the Mexicans have recently done without cause. You are my relatives—uncles, cousins, brothers. We are men the same as the Mexicans are—we can do to them what they have done to us. Let us go forward and trail them—I will lead you to their city—we will attack them in their homes. I will fight in the front of the battle—I only ask you to follow me to avenge this wrong done by these Mexicans—will you come? It is well—you will all come.

"Remember the rule in war—men may return or they may be killed. If any of these young men are killed I want no blame from their kinsmen, for they themselves have chosen to go. If I am killed no one need mourn for me. My people have all been killed in that country, and I, too, will die if need be."

I returned to my own settlement, reported this success to my chieftain, and immediately departed to the southward into the land of the Nedni Apaches. Their chief, Whoa, heard me without comment, but he immediately issued orders for a council, and when all were ready gave a sign that I might speak. I addressed them as I had addressed the Chokonen tribe, and they also promised to help us.

It was in the summer of 1859, almost a year from the date of the massacre of Kaskiyeh, that these three tribes were assembled on the Mexican border to go upon the warpath. Their faces were painted, the war bands[13] fastened upon their brows, their long scalp-locks[14] ready for the hand and knife of the warrior who could overcome them. Their families had been hidden away in a mountain rendezvous near the Mexican border. With these families a guard was posted, and a number of places of rendezvous designated in case the camp should be disturbed.

When all were ready the chieftains gave command to go forward. None of us were mounted and each warrior wore moccasins and also a cloth wrapped about his loins. This cloth could be spread over him when he slept, and when on the march would be ample protection as clothing. In battle, if the fight was hard, we did not wish much clothing. Each warrior carried three days' rations, but as we often killed game while on the march, we seldom were without food.

We traveled in three divisions: the Bedonkohe Apaches led by Mangus-Colorado, the Chokonen Apaches by Cochise, and the Nedni Apaches by Whoa; however, there was no regular order inside the separate tribes. We usually marched about fourteen hours per day, making three stops for meals and traveling forty to forty-five miles a day.

I acted as guide into Mexico, and we followed the river courses and mountain ranges because we could better thereby keep our movements concealed. We entered Sonora and went southward past Quitaco, Nacozari, and many smaller settlements.

When we were almost at Arispe we camped, and eight men rode out from the city to parley with us. These we captured, killed, and scalped. This was to draw the troops from the city, and the next day they came. The skirmishing lasted all day without a general engagement, but just at night we captured their supply train, so we had plenty of provisions and some more guns.

That night we posted sentinels and did not move our camp, but rested quietly all night, for we expected heavy work the next day. Early the next morning the warriors were assembled to pray—not for help, but that they might have health and avoid ambush or deceptions by the enemy.

As we had anticipated, about ten o'clock in the morning the whole Mexican force came out. There were two companies of cavalry and two of infantry. I recognized the cavalry as the soldiers who had killed my people at Kaskiyeh. This I told to the chieftains, and they said that I might direct the battle.

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. I arranged the Indians in a hollow circle near the river, and the Mexicans drew their infantry up in two lines, with the cavalry in reserve. We were in the timber, and they advanced until within about four hundred yards, when they halted and opened fire. Soon I led a charge against them, at the same time sending some braves to attack their rear. In all the battle I thought of my murdered mother, wife, and babies—of my father's grave and my vow of vengeance, and I fought with fury. Many fell by my hand, and constantly I led the advance. Many braves were killed. The battle lasted about two hours.

At the last four Indians were alone in the center of the field—myself and three other warriors. Our arrows were all gone, our spears broken off in the bodies of dead enemies. We had only our hands and knives with which to fight, but all who had stood against us were dead. Then two armed soldiers came upon us from another part of the field. They shot down two of our men and we, the remaining two, fled toward our own warriors. My companion was struck down by a saber, but I reached our warriors, seized a spear, and turned. The one who pursued me missed his aim and fell by my spear. With his saber I met the trooper who had killed my companion and we grappled and fell. I killed him with my knife and quickly rose over his body, brandishing his saber, seeking for other troopers to kill. There were none. But the Apaches had seen. Over the bloody field, covered with the bodies of Mexicans, rang the fierce Apache war-whoop.

Still covered with the blood of my enemies, still holding my conquering weapon, still hot with the joy of battle, victory, and vengeance, I was surrounded by the Apache braves and made war chief of all the Apaches. Then I gave orders for scalping the slain.[15]

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."


[12] According to custom he should not have kept the property of his deceased relatives, but he was not compelled to destroy his own tepee or the playthings of his children.

[13] Strips of buckskin about two inches wide fastened around the head.

[14] At this time the Mexican Government offered a reward in gold for Apache scalps—one hundred dollars for warrior's scalp, fifty dollars for squaw's scalp, and twenty-five dollars for child's scalp.

[15] From the moment the command for war is given with the Apaches everything assumes a religious guise. The manner of camping, cooking, etc., are exactly prescribed. Every object appertaining to war is called by its sacred name; as if, for instance, in English, one should say not horse, but war-horse or charger; not arrow, but missile of death. The Indian is not called by his ordinary name, but by a sacred name to which is subjoined "brave" or "chief" as the case may be. Geronimo's Indian name was Go khlae yeh, but the Mexicans at this battle called him Geronimo, a name he has borne ever since both among the Indians and white men.



All the other Apaches were satisfied after the battle of "Kaskiyeh," but I still desired more revenge. For several months we were busy with the chase and other peaceful pursuits. Finally I succeeded in persuading two others warriors, Ah-koch-ne and Ko-deh-ne, to go with me to invade the Mexican country.

We left our[16] families with the tribe and went on the warpath. We were on foot and carried three days' rations. We entered Mexico on the north line of Sonora and followed the Sierra de Antunez Mountains to the south end of the range. Here we decided to attack a small village. (I do not know the name of this village.) At daylight we approached from the mountains. Five horses were hitched outside. We advanced cautiously, but just before we reached the horses the Mexicans opened fire from the houses. My two companions were killed. Mexicans swarmed on every side; some were mounted; some were on foot, and all seemed to be armed. Three times that day I was surrounded, but I kept fighting, dodging, and hiding. Several times during the day while in concealment I had a chance to take deliberate aim at some Mexican, who, gun in hand, was looking for me. I do not think I missed my aim either time. With the gathering darkness I found more time to retreat toward Arizona. But the Mexicans did not quit the chase. Several times the next day mounted Mexicans tried to head me off; many times they fired on me, but I had no more arrows; so I depended upon running and hiding, although I was very tired. I had not eaten since the chase began, nor had I dared to stop for rest. The second night I got clear of my pursuers, but I never slackened my pace until I reached our home in Arizona. I came into our camp without booty, without my companions, exhausted, but not discouraged.

The wives and children of my two dead companions were cared for by their people. Some of the Apaches blamed me for the evil result of the expedition, but I said nothing. Having failed, it was only proper that I should remain silent. But my feelings toward the Mexicans did not change—I still hated them and longed for revenge. I never ceased to plan for their punishment, but it was hard to get the other warriors to listen to my proposed raids.

In a few months after this last adventure I persuaded two other warriors to join me in raiding the Mexican frontier. On our former raid we had gone through the Nedni Apaches' range into Sonora. This time we went through the country of the Cho-kon-en and entered the Sierra Madre Mountains. We traveled south, secured more rations, and prepared to begin our raids. We had selected a village near the mountains which we intended to attack at daylight. While asleep that night Mexican scouts discovered our camp and fired on us, killing one warrior. In the morning we observed a company of Mexican troops coming from the south. They were mounted and carried supplies for a long journey. We followed their trail until we were sure that they were headed for our range in Arizona; then we hurried past them and in three days reached our own settlement. We arrived at noon, and that afternoon, about three o'clock, these Mexican troops attacked our settlement. Their first volley killed three small boys. Many of the warriors of our tribe were away from home, but the few of us who were in camp were able to drive the troops out of the mountains before night. We killed eight Mexicans and lost five—two warriors and three boys. The Mexicans rode due south in full retreat. Four warriors were detailed to follow them, and in three days these trailers returned, saying that the Mexican cavalry had left Arizona, going southward. We were quite sure they would not return soon.

Soon after this (in the summer of 1860) I was again able to take the warpath against the Mexicans, this time with twenty-five warriors. We followed the trail of the Mexican troops last mentioned and entered the Sierra de Sahuaripa Mountains. The second day in these mountains our scouts discovered mounted Mexican troops. There was only one company of cavalry in this command, and I thought that by properly surprising them we could defeat them. We ambushed the trail over which they were to come. This was at a place where the whole company must pass through a mountain defile. We reserved fire until all of the troops had passed through; then the signal was given. The Mexican troopers, seemingly without a word of command, dismounted, and placing their horses on the outside of the company, for breastworks, made a good fight against us. I saw that we could not dislodge them without using all our ammunition, so I led a charge. The warriors suddenly pressed in from all sides and we fought hand to hand. During this encounter I raised my spear to kill a Mexican soldier just as he leveled his gun at me; I was advancing rapidly, and my foot slipping in a pool of blood, I fell under the Mexican trooper. He struck me over the head with the butt of his gun, knocking me senseless. Just at that instant a warrior who followed in my footsteps killed the Mexican with a spear. In a few minutes not a Mexican soldier was left alive. When the Apache war-cry had died away, and their enemies had been scalped, they began to care for their dead and wounded. I was found lying unconscious where I had fallen. They bathed my head in cold water and restored me to consciousness. Then they bound up my wound and the next morning, although weak from loss of blood and suffering from a severe headache, I was able to march on the return to Arizona. I did not fully recover for months, and I still wear the scar given me by that musketeer. In this fight we had lost so heavily that there really was no glory in our victory, and we returned to Arizona. No one seemed to want to go on the warpath again that year.

In the summer (1861) with twelve warriors I again went into Mexico. We entered Chihuahua and followed south on the east side of the Sierra Madre Mountains four days' journey; then crossed over to the Sierra de Sahuaripa range, not far east of Casa Grande. Here we rested one day, and sent out scouts to reconnoiter. They reported pack trains camped five miles west of us. The next morning just at daybreak, as these drivers were starting with their mule pack train, we attacked them. They rode away for their lives, leaving us the booty. The mules were loaded with provisions, most of which we took home. Two mules were loaded with side-meat or bacon;[17] this we threw away. We started to take these pack trains home, going northward through Sonora, but when near Casita, Mexican troops overtook us. It was at daybreak and we were just finishing our breakfast. We had no idea that we had been pursued or that our enemies were near until they opened fire. At the first volley a bullet struck me a glancing lick just at the lower corner of the left eye and I fell unconscious. All the other Indians fled to cover. The Mexicans, thinking me dead, started in pursuit of the fleeing Indians. In a few moments I regained consciousness and had started at full speed for the woods when another company coming up opened fire on me. Then the soldiers who had been chasing the other Indians turned, and I stood between two hostile companies, but I did not stand long. Bullets whistled in every direction and at close range to me. One inflicted a slight flesh wound on my side, but I kept running, dodging, and fighting, until I got clear of my pursuers. I climbed up a steep canon, where the cavalry could not follow. The troopers saw me, but did not dismount and try to follow. I think they were wise not to come on.

It had been understood that in case of surprise with this booty, our place of rendezvous should be the Santa Bita Mountains in Arizona. We did not reassemble in Mexico, but traveled separately and in three days we were encamped in our place of rendezvous. From this place we returned home empty-handed. We had not even a partial victory to report. I again returned wounded, but I was not yet discouraged. Again I was blamed by our people, and again I had no reply.

After our return many of the warriors had gone on a hunt and some of them had gone north to trade for blankets from the Navajo Indians. I remained at home trying to get my wounds healed. One morning just at daybreak, when the squaws were lighting the camp fires to prepare breakfast, three companies of Mexican troops who had surrounded our settlement in the night opened fire. There was no time for fighting. Men, women, and children fled for their lives. Many women and children and a few warriors were killed, and four women were captured. My left eye was still swollen shut, but with the other I saw well enough to hit one of the officers with an arrow, and then make good my escape among the rocks. The troopers burned our tepees and took our arms, provisions, ponies, and blankets. Winter was at hand.

There were not more than twenty warriors in camp at this time, and only a few of us had secured weapons during the excitement of the attack. A few warriors followed the trail of the troops as they went back to Mexico with their booty, but were unable to offer battle. It was a long, long time before we were again able to go on the warpath against the Mexicans.

The four women who were captured at this time by the Mexicans were taken into Sonora, Mexico, where they were compelled to work for the Mexicans. After some years they escaped to the mountains and started to find our tribe. They had knives which they had stolen from the Mexicans, but they had no other weapons. They had no blankets; so at night they would make a little tepee by cutting brush with their knives, and setting them up for the walls. The top was covered over with brush. In this temporary tepee they would all sleep. One night when their camp fire was low they heard growling just outside the tepee. Francisco, the youngest woman of the party (about seventeen years of age), started to build up the fire, when a mountain lion crashed through the tepee and attacked her. The suddenness of the attack made her drop her knife, but she fought as best she could with her hand. She was no match for the lion, however; her left shoulder was crushed and partly torn away. The lion kept trying to catch her by the throat; this she prevented with her hands for a long time. He dragged her for about 300 yards, then she found her strength was failing her from loss of blood, and she called to the other women for help. The lion had been dragging her by one foot, and she had been catching hold of his legs, and of the rocks and underbrush, to delay him. Finally he stopped and stood over her. She again called her companions and they attacked him with their knives and killed him. Then they dressed her wounds and nursed her in the mountains for about a month. When she was again able to walk they resumed their journey and reached our tribe in safety.

This woman (Francisco) was held as a prisoner of war with the other Apaches and died on the Fort Sill Reservation in 1892. Her face was always disfigured with those scars and she never regained perfect use of her hands. The three older women died before we became prisoners of war.

Many women and children were carried away at different times by Mexicans. Not many of them ever returned, and those who did underwent many hardships in order to be again united with their people. Those who did not escape were slaves to the Mexicans, or perhaps even more degraded.

When warriors were captured by the Mexicans they were kept in chains. Four warriors who were captured once at a place north of Casa Grande, called by the Indians "Honas," were kept in chains for a year and a half, when they were exchanged for Mexicans whom we had captured.

We never chained prisoners or kept them in confinement, but they seldom got away. Mexican men when captured were compelled to cut wood and herd horses. Mexican women and children[18] were treated as our own people.


[16] Geronimo had married again.

[17] They had never eaten bacon and did not learn to do so for a long time. Even now they will not eat bacon or pork if they can get other meat. Geronimo positively refuses to eat bacon or pork.

[18] The interpreter, Asa, son of Whoa, remembers a little captive Mexican girl who used to play with the Apache children, but was finally exchanged.

One of Geronimo's wives and her child were killed at this time, and thenceforth until he became a prisoner of war he had two wives. He might have had as many wives as he wished, but he says that he was so busy fighting Mexicans that he could not support more than two.



In the summer of 1862 I took eight men and invaded Mexican territory. We went south on the west side of the Sierra Madre Mountains for five days; then in the night crossed over to the southern part of the Sierra de Sahuaripa range. Here we again camped to watch for pack trains. About ten o'clock next morning four drivers, mounted, came past our camp with a pack-mule train. As soon as they saw us they rode for their lives, leaving us the booty. This was a long train, and packed with blankets, calico, saddles, tinware, and loaf sugar. We hurried home as fast as we could with these provisions, and on our return while passing through a canon in the Santa Catilina range of mountains in Arizona, met a white man driving a mule pack train. When we first saw him he had already seen us, and was riding at full tilt up the canon. We examined his train and found that his mules were all loaded with cheese. We put them in with the other train and resumed our journey. We did not attempt to trail the driver and I am sure he did not try to follow us.

In two days we arrived at home. Then Mangus-Colorado, our chief, assembled the tribe. We gave a feast, divided the spoils, and danced all night. Some of the pack mules were killed and eaten.

This time after our return we kept out scouts so that we would know if Mexican troops should attempt to follow us.

On the third day our scouts came into camp and reported Mexican cavalry dismounted and approaching our settlement. All our warriors were in camp. Mangus-Colorado took command of one division and I of the other. We hoped to get possession of their horses, then surround the troops in the mountains, and destroy the whole company. This we were unable to do, for they, too, had scouts. However, within four hours after we started we had killed ten troopers with the loss of only one man, and the Mexican cavalry was in full retreat, followed by thirty armed Apaches, who gave them no rest until they were far inside the Mexican country. No more troops came that winter.

For a long time we had plenty of provisions, plenty of blankets, and plenty of clothing. We also had plenty of cheese and sugar.

Another summer (1863) I selected three warriors and went on a raid into Mexico. We went south into Sonora, camping in the Sierra de Sahuaripa Mountains. About forty miles west of Casa Grande is a small village in the mountains, called by the Indians "Crassanas." We camped near this place and concluded to make an attack. We had noticed that just at midday no one seemed to be stirring; so we planned to make our attack at the noon hour. The next day we stole into the town at noon. We had no guns, but were armed with spears and bows and arrows. When the war-whoop was given to open the attack the Mexicans fled in every direction; not one of them made any attempt to fight us.

We shot some arrows at the retreating Mexicans, but killed only one. Soon all was silent in the town and no Mexicans could be seen.

When we discovered that all the Mexicans were gone we looked through their houses and saw many curious things. These Mexicans kept many more kinds of property than the Apaches did. Many of the things we saw in the houses we could not understand, but in the stores we saw much that we wanted; so we drove in a herd of horses and mules, and packed as much provisions and supplies as we could on them. Then we formed these animals into a pack train and returned safely to Arizona. The Mexicans did not even trail us.

When we arrived in camp we called the tribe together and feasted all day. We gave presents to everyone. That night the dance began, and it did not cease until noon the next day.

This was perhaps the most successful raid ever made by us into Mexican territory. I do not know the value of the booty, but it was very great, for we had supplies enough to last our whole tribe for a year or more.

In the fall of 1864 twenty warriors were willing to go with me on another raid into Mexico. These were all chosen men, well armed and equipped for battle. As usual we provided for the safety of our families before starting on this raid. Our whole tribe scattered and then reassembled at a camp about forty miles from the former place. In this way it would be hard for the Mexicans to trail them and we would know where to find our families when we returned. Moreover, if any hostile Indians should see this large number of warriors leaving our range they might attack our camp, but if they found no one at the usual place their raid would fail.

We went south through the Chokonen Apaches' range, entered Sonora, Mexico, at a point directly south of Tombstone, Arizona, and went into hiding in the Sierra de Antunez Mountains.

We attacked several settlements in the neighborhood and secured plenty of provisions and supplies. After about three days we attacked and captured a mule pack train at a place called by the Indians "Pontoco." It is situated in the mountains due west, about one day's journey[19] from Arispe.

There were three drivers with this train. One was killed and two escaped. The train was loaded with mescal,[20] which was contained in bottles held in wicker baskets. As soon as we made camp the Indians began to get drunk and fight each other. I, too, drank enough mescal to feel the effect of it, but I was not drunk. I ordered the fighting stopped, but the order was disobeyed. Soon almost a general fight was in progress. I tried to place a guard out around our camp, but all were drunk and refused to serve. I expected an attack from Mexican troops at any moment, and really it was a serious matter for me, for being in command I would be held responsible for any ill luck attending the expedition. Finally the camp became comparatively still, for the Indians were too drunk to walk or even to fight. While they were in this stupor I poured out all the mescal, then I put out all the fires and moved the pack mules to a considerable distance from camp. After this I returned to camp to try to do something for the wounded. I found that only two were dangerously wounded. From the leg of one of these I cut an arrow head, and from the shoulder of another I withdrew a spear point. When all the wounds had been cared for, I myself kept guard till morning. The next day we loaded our wounded on the pack mules and started for Arizona.

The next day we captured come cattle from a herd and drove them home with us. But it was a very difficult matter to drive cattle when we were on foot. Caring for the wounded and keeping the cattle from escaping made our journey tedious. But we were not trailed, and arrived safely at home with all the booty.

We then gave a feast and dance, and divided the spoils. After the dance we killed all the cattle and dried the meat. We dressed the hides and then the dried meat was packed in between these hides and stored away. All that winter we had plenty of meat. These were the first cattle we ever had. As usual we killed and ate some of the mules. We had little use for mules, and if we could not trade them for something of value, we killed them.

In the summer of 1865, with four warriors, I went again into Mexico. Heretofore we had gone on foot; we were accustomed to fight on foot; besides, we could more easily conceal ourselves when dismounted. But this time we wanted more cattle, and it was hard to drive them when we were on foot. We entered Sonora at a point southwest from Tombstone, Arizona, and followed the Sierra de Antunez Mountains to the southern limit, then crossed the country as far south as the mouth of Yaqui River. Here we saw a great lake[21] extending beyond the limit of sight. Then we turned north, attacked several settlements, and secured plenty of supplies. When we had come back northwest of Arispe we secured about sixty head of cattle, and drove them to our homes in Arizona. We did not go directly home, but camped in different valleys with our cattle. We were not trailed. When we arrived at our camp the tribe was again assembled for feasting and dancing. Presents were given to everybody; then the cattle were killed and the meat dried and packed.


[19] Forty-five miles.

[20] Mescal is a fiery liquor produced in Mexico from several spices of Agave.

[21] Gulf of California.



In the fall of 1865 with nine other warriors I went into Mexico on foot. We attacked several settlements south of Casa Grande, and collected many horses and mules. We made our way northward with these animals through the mountains. When near Arispe we made camp one evening, and thinking that we were not being trailed, turned loose the whole herd, even those we had been riding. They were in a valley surrounded by steep mountains, and we were camped at the mouth of this valley so that the animals could not leave without coming through our camp. Just as we had begun to eat our supper our scouts came in and announced Mexican troops coming toward our camp. We started for the horses, but troops that our scouts had not seen were on the cliffs above us, and opened fire. We scattered in all directions, and the troops recovered all our booty. In three days we reassembled at our appointed place of rendezvous in the Sierra Madre Mountains in northern Sonora. Mexican troops did not follow us, and we returned to Arizona without any more fighting and with no booty. Again I had nothing to say, but I was anxious for another raid.

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