Sunday, September 4, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2059


Skeleton Canyon, Arizona (JFK+50) A century and thirty years ago today, September 4, 1886, Apache chief Geronimo*, who had been fighting to protect his homeland for three decades, surrendered to United States Army General Nelson Miles here at Skeleton Canyon.

Although Geronimo was the last Native American warrior to formally surrender to the United States Army, his mission as a warrior began with vengeance toward the Mexicans.  In 1858, a company of Mexican soldiers under Colonel Jose Maria Carrasco attacked his village and killed his wife, mother and children.

Geronimo would later say, "I vowed vengeance upon the Mexican troopers who had wronged me."  He led a small band of warriors in a quest to keep white settlers off Apache lands and according to Mark Megehee, Museum specialist at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Geronimo was successful by "stealth, firepower and mobility."

In his last days of freedom, Geronimo was leading 39 warriors up to 80 miles a day to stay ahead of 5000 pursuing troopers of the United States Army.  

According to an account given by William Loy, a white man whose ranch was adjacent to the reservation, army Indian scouts were sent into Geronimo's camp the night before the surrender.  The scouts told the Apache warrior that while he might be able to escape the army, he could not escape the white civilians "who were out to get him and his band."

*Geronimo (1829-1909) was born as Goyalkla (one who yawns) near the Gila River in Arizona.  He married Alope when he was 17 & had 3 children. Geronimo, although a leader of a small band of Apache warriors, was not considered a chief by his people.  After his capture, Geronimo spent the rest of his life as a POW & scout for the army.  He marched in President Theodore Roosevelt's Inaugural Parade in 1905.  Geronimo died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma at the age of 83.


"Native History:  Geronimo is Last Native Warrior to Surrender," by Alysa Landry, September 4, 2013,

"The Capture of Geronimo,"

Photo by Frank A. Rinehart (1898) - photogalleries