Born Goyathlay (One Who Yawns) in present day Clifton, Arizona, Geronimo’s name has become synonymous with a battle charge cry. His childhood with the Apache tribe was peaceful and isolated from white settlers, but during his teenage years he joined Mangas Coloradas and Cochise in battles against the Mexicans.
In 1858 while trading in Mexico, his wife and three children and his mother were killed by Mexicans. To revenge his family he raided the Mexicans responsible for the murders. Some historians say that the raids are how he received the name by which history has come to know him. During the raids Mexican soldiers would call on St Jerome (Jeronimo or Geronimo in Spanish) to protect them.
In 1876 the U.S. government attempted to move the Chiricahua Apaches from their homeland to the San Carlos Reservation, but the Indians refused to relocate and many fled into Mexico. Over the next ten years Geronimo would go to the San Carlos Reservation several times. In 1886, General George Cook captured Geronimo in Mexico, but he fled with a small band of followers before their captors reached the Untied States border.
General Nelson Miles took over the pursuit of Geronimo and using 5000 white soldiers and 500 Indian auxiliaries would finally track down Geronimo in the Sonoran Mountains of Mexico. It took the army five months traveling 1645 miles before General Miles convinced Geronimo to surrender one last time. Miles promised the Apache warrior that he would spend only a short time in Florida and then be returned to Arizona, Geronimo agreed.
The promise was never kept. The Apaches were sent to Florida and then to Alabama where almost one quarter of their population died. Geronimo would never see Arizona again. He was finally sent to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma where he settled as a farmer. He took part in the inaugural procession of Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. He dictated his memoirs, Geronimo: His Own Story
, published in 1906. He died of pneumonia in 1909.