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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Geronimo
Aired:
02/04/2012
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The leading Apache warrior became a focus of the fury of terrified white settlers in the 1870s.

 


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SUN 2/5/2012

2:00PM on CPTV
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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

GERONIMO

In February 1909, the Chiricahua Apache medicine man Geronimo summoned his nephew to his deathbed, whispering, "I should never have surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive." It was an admission of regret from a man whose insistent pursuit of military resistance in the face of overwhelming odds confounded not only his Mexican and American enemies, but many of his fellow Apaches as well. Geronimo grew into a leading warrior and healer. But after his tribe was relocated to an Arizona reservation in 1872, he became a focus of the fury of terrified white settlers and of the growing tensions that divided Apaches struggling to survive under almost unendurable pressures. To angry whites, Geronimo became the archfiend, perpetrator of unspeakable savage cruelties. To his supporters, he remained the embodiment of proud resistance. To other Apaches, Geronimo was a stubborn troublemaker, unbalanced by his unquenchable thirst for vengeance, whose actions needlessly brought the enemy's wrath down on his own people. At a time when surrender to the reservation and acceptance of the white man's civilization seemed to be the Indian's only realistic options, Geronimo and his tiny band of Chiricahuas fought on. The final holdouts, they became the last Native American fighting force to capitulate formally to the government of the U.S.


 
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