Thursday, March 15, 2012


 GERONIMO, aka "Goyaałé"

"If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they."  --Ecclesiastes 5:8

I have been fascinated by the great Apache warrior Geronimo ever since childhood.  First there was the old movie with Chuck Connors gloriously miscast as the Scourge of the Cavalry.  Say what ya want about that old 1962 flick and its historical inaccuracies, it did a good job presenting the Mescalero Apache as a displaced human being with a specific code and way of life.  Chuck might have been 6'5" with red make-up and eyes as blue as robin's eggs [reportedly it was decided his natural eye color would gain more sympathy from the viewers] but he did as good a job as possible conveying strength and courage to later TV boy viewers like myself. 
 Also there was the great book THE STORY OF GERONIMO by my fave author at the time Jim Kjelgaard, Still recommendable as a good introduction to the life and exploits of a great American [Native, that is.]
Goyaałé can definitely be considered an Arizonan, having spent the vast majority of his life within, at least, our territorial boundaries [which, of course, included modern New Mexico], but he makes my list because, frankly,  I have nothing but sheer admiration for him as a man.  

Looking for great Rogue Males to esteem?  How about a guy who-- as essentially public enemy #1 of his time--  led the Federal government on a merry chase til the very  late Indian War year of 1886... and then went on to live healthily into his 80th year... when his life was finally ended by a throw from a horse! [who rides a horse at 79??

Then, to top it off, his name is now what we all say when summoning the courage to jump from an airplane or commit some other comparable act of fool-hardy insanity.

So... Geronimo was clearly no ordinary dude!  

They say he converted to Christianity at the end, having died as a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, and I am glad of it.  He is quoted as once saying, "I have advised all of my people who are not Christians, to study that religion, because it seems to me the best religion in enabling one to live right."

Anyone who loves western history should read his dictated autobiography GERONIMO,  HIS OWN STORY compiled by Stephen Melvil Barrett back at the turn of the last century.  Some say liberties were taken with the great Apache's oral history, but I think it rings pretty true.  [Be prepared, though, as you read, for a lot of bitterness against Mexicans, as Geronimo never seems to have quite forgiven them for the slaughter of his family and other tribesmen.]
Not far from where I live, in Texas Canyon, the awesome Amerind Foundation has a bow with the great man's signature, signed probably at the World's Fair in 1905.  The tour guide there will tell you that it is likely one of hundreds of bows signed by Geronimo at the fair...  the irony of which, she will then add wryly, is that the historical Geronimo, while he hated the bow and arrow, was "a great fancier of all kinds of Firearms!


Rock On, Geronimo!


Anonymous said...

Old Army saying: paratroopers yell "Geronimo" because it's more dignified than yelling "Mommy!" Which is not that far from the truth. The story goes that, in 1940, an airborne unit at Ft. Benning was scheduled to practice a mass parachute jump in an upcoming training exercise. Some of the old hands were kidding a rookie and they joked that he would be too scared to remember his own name. The soldiers had been to see a Western that evening and the private made a bet that he would yell "Geronimo" when he made the jump. The next day, he won the bet. The movie was probably "Geronimo" or possibly "Stagecoach" (both 1939). If they had just seen "Gone With the Wind," maybe airborne troops would say "I don't give a damn."

Albie The Good said...

Thanks for commentin' again, anonymous!

Visit and comment any time my friend :)