Geronimo was a leader of the Apache Indians. He belonged to an Apache group known as the Chiricahua. In the 1870s, the United States government tried to force the Chiricahua off their homelands and onto reservations. Geronimo fought back.


Geronimo was born in 1829 in what is now Arizona. Back then, this territory belonged to Mexico. Geronimo’s Indian name was Goyathlay, meaning “one who yawns.” The Mexicans called him Geronimo.

In 1858, soldiers from Mexico killed Geronimo’s wife, children, and mother. For years afterward, Geronimo led raids against Mexican settlements. White settlers were moving into the area by the 1860s. The U.S. government wanted to protect settlers from Apache raids. In 1876, it decided to move the Chiricahua onto a reservation.

Geronimo and others escaped from the reservation. They hid in the mountains and led raids against white settlements. Sometimes, Geronimo was captured and lived on the reservation. But he’d get away again. Conditions on the reservation were bad.


In March 1886, Geronimo was captured, but then he escaped. The U.S. Army went after him. Geronimo and his followers surrendered in September 1886.

The government sent the Chiricahua to Florida, then to Alabama, and finally to Oklahoma. The Chiricahua were treated like prisoners. Many of them died.

Geronimo became a Christian. He was famous as a fierce Apache warrior. In 1905, he took part in a parade at the inauguration of President Theodore Roosevelt. Geronimo told his story in a book that appeared in 1906, Geronimo’s Story of His Life. He died in 1909.

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