The Native American warrior who was nicknamed "The Worst Indian that Ever Lived"


Goyaałé, also known as Geronimo, was a prominent Apache warrior who lived in the late 19th century. He was born in 1829 in what is now Arizona, into the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. He was a fierce and skilled fighter who led his people in a resistance against the U.S. government's encroachment on their land and way of life. His story is one of courage, resilience, and defiance in the face of overwhelming odds.
Geronimo (Goyaalé), a Bedonkohe Apache, kneeling with rifle, 1887Photo byBy Ben Wittick - The U.S. National Archives, Public Domain

Even as a child, the Mexican government put a reward on his head of 25 pesos. Yet, he was adamant about fighting back against the authorities who were hunting him and his people. He married his sweetheart Alope when he was 17 years old, and she bore him three children.

He with his group raided settlements and stole cattle, horses, and other goods, which they used to support their communities and resist the encroachment. In retaliation, the government of Chihuahua, Mexico, imposed a $200 bounty on their heads.

He grew up in a time of great turmoil and violence, as the U.S. government and white settlers began to move westward and take over native lands. Goyaałé quickly became known as a skilled warrior, earning respect and admiration from his people for his bravery in battle.

As tensions between the Apaches and the U.S. government escalated, Goyaałé emerged as a key leader in the fight for their rights and freedom. He and his followers refused to submit to the government's attempts to force them onto reservations, and instead chose to continue their traditional way of life.

He was out trading with locals in 1858 when Mexican forces stormed his town and massacred his wife, mother, and three children. Geronimo vowed vengeance on those who slaughtered his family. He survived his next battle with Mexican forces and therefore became completely fearless, racing at his adversaries in a zig-zag style in order to stab them to death up close.

Goyaałé's resistance came to a head in the 1870s and 1880s, as the U.S. government launched a massive campaign to subdue the Apaches and force them onto reservations. Goyaałé led his people in a series of battles and raids against the U.S. Army, earning a reputation as one of the most formidable and elusive warriors in American history.

Despite being vastly outnumbered and outgunned, Goyaałé and his followers managed to evade capture for years, using their knowledge of the land and guerrilla tactics to stay one step ahead of their pursuers.

Geronimo was eventually deceived by his fellow Apaches, who lured him into a peace meeting with Americans. On realizing, he and 17 others escaped in 1878. They ran across the Sierra Madre Mountains as around 5,000 US soldiers chased them.

Finally, in 1886, after years of resistance and hardship, Goyaałé and his followers surrendered to the U.S. Army. They were forced onto reservations in Florida and later Oklahoma, where they struggled to adapt to a new way of life and faced ongoing persecution from the government and white settlers.

He was displayed at fairs and exhibitions around America, labeled as "The Worst Indian That Ever Lived." Despite the derogatory term, his popularity allowed him to attend a number of major events including that of President Theodore Roosevelt’s second inauguration in 1905 where he boldly demanded to be returned back home which was denied.

Source: Geronimo: His Own Story

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Saurabh is a Computer Science & Engineering undergraduate student pursuing his writing interests. He enjoys researching current events/news as well as Evergreen Topics and has also been writing on Medium, Quora and Vocal.


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