After thirty years of having battled to protect his tribe’s homeland, the great Apache chief Geronimo finally surrendered to U.S. government troops on September 4, 1886. So General Nelson Miles accepted Geronimo’s surrender and made him the last Indian warrior to formally give in to U.S. forces, signaling the end of the Indian Wars in the southwest.
Geronimo was born in 1829 and grew up in the state that today is known as Arizona and also in Mexico. When settlers tried to take their land Geronimo along with his tribe the Chiricahua Apaches took a stand. Wanting revenge he led raids against both American and Mexican settlers. Then in 1874, the U.S. government moved Geronimo and his tribe to a reservation in east-central Arizona.
It was devastating for these Native Americans since conditions on the reservation were restrictive and harsh. In rebellion Geronimo and some of his followers escaped and over the next decade they fought against federal troops and launched raids on white settlements. All the while Geronimo and his supporters wound up being forced back onto the reservation several times.
Geronimo and about 150 followers attempted to escape one more time in May 1885. 5,000 U.S. troops chased after them into Mexico. Finally, in March 1886 General George Cook forced Geronimo to surrender but still, he escaped and continued his raids. When General Nelson Miles took command he got Geronimo to surrender near Fort Bowie along the Arizona-New Mexico border.
Geronimo and a band of Apaches were sent to Florida, then Alabama, and finally wound up at the Comanche and Kiowa reservation near Fort Sill in Oklahoma territory. It was there that Geronimo became a successful farmer and converted to Christianity. In 1905 he participated in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade.
Apache chief Geronimo dictated his autobiography “Geronimo’s Story of His Life” which was published in 1906 He died at Fort Sill on February 17, 1909.