Geronimo His Own Story
Part I: The Apaches
Part II: The Mexicans
Part III: The White Men
Part IV: The Old And The New
Part III: The White Men
Coming of the White Men
About the time of the massacre of "Kaskiyeh" (1858) we
heard that some white men were measuring land to the south of us.
In company with a number of other warriors I went to visit them.
We could not understand them very well, for we had no interpreter,
but we made a treaty with them by shaking hands and promising to
be brothers. Then we made our camp near their camp, and they came
to trade with us. We gave them buckskin, blankets, and ponies in
exchange for shirts and provisions. We also brought them game, for
which they gave us some money. We did not know the value of this
money, but we kept it and later learned from the Navajo Indians
that it was very valuable.
Every day they measured land with curious instruments and put down
marks which we could not understand. They were good men, and we
were sorry when they had gone on into the west. They were not soldiers.
These were the first white men I ever saw.
About ten years later some more white men came. These were all
warriors. They made their camp on the Gila River south of Hot Springs.
At first they were friendly and we did not dislike them, but they
were not as good as those who came first.
After about a year some trouble arose between them and the Indians,
and I took the war path as a warrior, not as a chief. I had not
been wronged, but some of my people had been, and I fought with
my tribe; for the soldiers and not the Indians were at fault.
Not long after this some of the officers of the United States troops
invited our leaders to hold a conference at Apache Pass (Fort Bowie).
Just before noon the Indians were shown into a tent and told that
they would be given something to eat. When in the tent they were
attacked by soldiers. our chief, Mangus-Colorado, and several other
warriors, by cutting through the tent, escaped; but most of the
warriors were killed or captured. Among the Bedonkohe Apaches killed
at this time were Sanza, Kladetahe, Niyokahe, and Gopi. After this
treachery the Indians went back to the mountains and left the fort
entirely alone. I do not think that the agent had anything to do
with planning this, for he had always treated us well. I believe
it was entirely planned by the soldiers.
From the very first the soldiers sent out to our western country,
and the officers in charge of them, did not hesitate to wrong the
Indians. They never explained to the Government when an Indian was
wronged, but always reported the misdeeds of the Indians. Much that
was done by mean white men was reported at Washington as the deeds
of my people.
The Indians always tried to live peaceably with the white soldiers
and settlers. One day during the time that the soldiers were stationed
at Apache Pass I made a treaty with the post. This was done by shaking
hands and promising to be brothers. Cochise and Mangus-Colorado
did likewise. I do not know the name of the officer in command,
but this was the first regiment that ever came to Apache Pass. This
treaty was made about a year before we were attacked in a tent,
as above related. In a few days after the attack at Apache Pass
we organized in the mountains and returned to fight the soldiers.
There were two tribes; the Bedonkohe and the Chokonen Apaches, both
commanded by Cochise. After a few days' skirmishing we attacked
a freight train that was coming in with supplies for the Fort. We
killed some of the men and captured the others. These prisoners
our chief offered to trade for the Indians whom the soldiers had
captured at the massacre in the tent. This the officers refused,
so we killed our prisoners, disbanded, and went into hiding in the
mountains. Of those who took part in this affair I am the only one
In a few days troops were sent out to search for us, but as we
were disbanded, it was, of course, impossible for them to locate
any hostile camp. During the time they were searching for us many
of our warriors (who were thought by the soldiers to be peaceable
Indians) talked to the officers and men, advising them where they
might find the camp they sought, and while they searched we watched
them from our hiding places and laughed at their failures.
After this trouble all of the Indians agreed not to be friendly
with the white men any more. There was no general engagement, but
a long struggle followed. Sometimes we attacked the white men, sometimes
they attacked us. First a few Indians would be killed and then a
few soldiers. I think the killing was about equal on each side.
The number killed in these troubles did not amount to much, but
this treachery on the part of the soldiers had angered the Indians
and revived memories of other wrongs, so that we never again trusted
the United States troops.
Next Page - Greatest Of Wrongs