Saturday, December 05, 2015


Geronimo was know for his brutality, but among the Apaches he was considered a freedom fighter.

Our church in New Mexico had his photo at the back along with other war heroes and a plaque for the locals who had been at Bataan.

We also had a group from our church go to a reconciliation ceremony in Mexico to heal the wrong done by the locals there who helped the Americans capture the last group of Apache refugees.

But is why is this guy wearing a war bonnet? That is the something worn by Plains Indians and is a sign of one's deeds against the enemy.
Geronimo was an Apache...

Comanches and Sioux wear war bonnets: Apaches do not. Except it seems Geronimo has been photographed with that headpiece.

And indeed, the Comanches claim that Geronimo's war bonnet was stolen from them. from

The Comanches' argument: Apaches did not wear long-feather war bonnets; the Comanches did, and they made the one seized by the FBI.
If Geronimo wore the headdress - and the Comanches are not conceding that he did - it was only on loan, the tribe says, because the Comanches would never have given a non-Comanche an item of "tremendous religious and cultural significance."
The dispute has become far more complicated than anyone had expected.
"It's really quite a time-consuming historical investigation," said lawyer James M. Burson, whose Alamagordo firm has represented the Mescalero Apaches for 25 years. "There's virtually no one alive to tell us about the actual instance when Geronimo got the war bonnet, and there aren't any kind of historical documents."
Although some contemporary photographs show Geronimo wearing a feathered war bonnet at the Last Powwow, no one has proved that the photographs are of the headdress in the FBI's custody.
Geronimo, it seems, often earned money by signing autographs and posing in costume for cash.

Which explains the presence of a Comanche war bonnet on this distant relative who is selling books: He an actor, so he might just be wearing the costume for his audience to sell books....

we had quite a few Geronimos among our patients when I worked in Mescalero. Yes, his clan settled at Fort Sill, but the gov't deliberately mixed the tribes when they were captured, and the Mescalero were from different clans.

Survivors of the Lipan Apaches, a tribe which suffered heavily in the Texas wars, were brought from northern Chihuahua, Mexico about 1903. In 1913, approximately 200 members of the Chiricahua band of Apaches came to the reservation. They had been held prisoner at Fort Sill, Oklahoma since the capture of the famed Apache Geronimo in 1886. All became members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe when it was reorganized in 1936 under the provisions of the Indian Organization Act.

and apparently some of them are not pleased with Harlyn trying to take over their grandfather's remains. From the article from the LasCrucis SunNews:

AS CRUCES — A second group of Geronimo's descendants and the Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma said they took legal action Tuesday to oppose the repatriation of the legendary Apache warrior's remains to New Mexico....
Lariat Geronimo of Mescalero, a great-grandson of Geronimo, contends Harlyn Geronimo doesn't have a valid claim as a descendant and shouldn't have a say as to where the Apache warrior is buried.
"Our objective here is to set the record straight: Our family is the true Geronimos," he said. "This guy is trying to ride on somebody else's reputation."
Harlyn Geronimo, who also claims to be a great-grandson of Geronimo, has said Apache custom is to bury a person near his or her birthplace, the reason he's seeking the repatriation.
But Lariat Geronimo said it's better to leave the remains undisturbed and noted that historically the Apache tribe was nomadic and buried their dead in various places.

the Tuscon weekly has more backstory, about the evil Skull and Bones club stealing the remains (probably an urban legend).
and this story says he is indeed a descendant of the warrior.

In fact, Lariat Geronimo, another great-grandson—he descends from the warrior's son Robert, while Harlyn descends from Geronimo's daughter Lenna—in May joined the Fort Sill Tribe in a countersuit to Harlyn's.
and the article has a lot of backstory, and notes that the Apache are not a monolith, and that most of Geronimo's clan is now at Fort Sill.

and his grave is about tourist money and political correctness: The dirty little secret is that yes, he was a "freedom fighter" for the Indians, but he was a thug to the local Mexicans, Pueblo Indians, and of course, the "Anglos" after they stole New Mexico from the Mexicans. Even many Apaches disliked Geronimo, because he did not surrender with the others, but left to continue the war.

But what irony: The man everyone now wants a piece of was often reviled in his own time.
"Nobody really liked Geronimo, especially the Apaches at San Carlos and the White Mountains," says Edwin Sweeney, author of an important biography of Cochise and several other books. "Where do you think General Crook recruited many of his scouts to ride against the hostiles? When Geronimo broke out the last time, there were 80 Chiricahua men at Turkey Creek, and 60 volunteered as scouts to go after him."

As for descendants:  with all the forced moving around by the US gov't, the mix up is even more complicated.

Summary: if Geronimo was a thug, the cruelty of the US wars against the Apache and other tribes is also full of cruelty and atrocities.

All done in the name of "civilizing" them, of course.

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