This Day in History… September 4, 1886

Geronimo Surrenders, Ending Major Indian Wars 

U.S. #2869m

After nearly 30 years fighting the Americans and Mexicans that invaded his home, Geronimo surrendered on September 4, 1886.

Born in 1829, Geronimo was known to his Apache people as Goyaalé, or, “the one who yawns.” In the 1850s, a group of Mexican soldiers attacked his village while he was in a nearby town trading. Geronimo returned home to find his mother, wife, and children among those killed that day. From then on, Geronimo and his followers killed any Mexicans they crossed paths with out of revenge.

Item #4902068 – Geronimo First Day Proof Card

Geronimo spent the next 30 years waging war with Mexicans and Americans. In 1874, he and his tribe were relocated to a reservation in Arizona. Geronimo didn’t agree with the strict rulers there and led his followers on a number of daring escapes over the years. After these escapes, Geronimo and his band of Apaches launched raids on white settlements, but were always eventually forced back to the reservation.

Geronimo made his final escape in May 1885, leading some 150 followers. They were followed into Mexico by 5,000 U.S. troops and eventually caught by General George Crook. He forced Geronimo to surrender. But as he’d done many times in the past, Geronimo escaped and launched more raids.

U.S. #UX190 – Geronimo First Day of Issue Post Card

Following Crook’s failure, General Nelson Miles was brought in to pursue Geronimo. Miles caught Geronimo near Fort Bowie along the Arizona-new Mexico border. After decades of fighting and years of running dozens of miles a day, Geronimo and his men were tired. This time Geronimo actually surrendered – making him the last Indian warrior to do so, ending the major fighting of the Indian Wars in the Southwest.

Geronimo spent several years as a prisoner of the United States. He later converted to Christianity, became a successful farmer, and worked as a scout and advisor for the U.S. army. He became a celebrity, representing the vanishing Wild West, appearing and world’s fairs, and even riding in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905.

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