Geronimo was born in what is today Arizona in the upper Gila River country on June 16, 1829. His birth name was Goyahkla, or “one who yawns.” He was part of the Bedonkohe subsection of the Chiricahua tribe of Apaches, a small but mighty group of around 8,000 people.
Geronimo, Indian name Goyathlay (“One Who Yawns”), (born June 1829, No-Doyohn Canyon, Mex. —died Feb. 17, 1909, Fort Sill, Okla., U.S.), Bedonkohe Apache leader of the Chiricahua Apache, who led his people’s defense of their homeland against the military might of the United States.
Shaped by decades of war, Geronimo, Cochise, Victorio, Lozen and Mangas Coloradas (and those they ran with) cultivated a genius for survival so their descendants could live on. For the living descendants of the Geronimo family of Mescalero, New Mexico, the answer is both.
Some of Geronimo’s descendants now live in the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s land, which is in central New Mexico. After the families of Geronimo and other Apache warriors were captured and sent to Florida, Geronimo and 35 warriors surrendered to Gen. Nelson A. Miles near the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1886.
As far as I know, there are only a few verified living direct descendants today. One is a great-grandson named Harlyn Geronimo, who lives in Mescalero, New Mexico.
Geronimo died of pneumonia at Fort Sill on February 17, 1909. He is buried in Beef Creek Apache Cemetery in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
There are Apache communities in Oklahoma and Texas, and reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. Apache people have moved throughout the United States and elsewhere, including urban centers.
In March 1886, General George Crook (1829–90) forced Geronimo to surrender; however, Geronimo quickly escaped and continued his raids. General Nelson Miles (1839–1925) then took over the pursuit of Geronimo, eventually forcing him to surrender that September near Fort Bowie along the Arizona-New Mexico border.
Harlyn Geronimo was born in 1947, is an Apache medicine man and the great-grandson of the infamous Chiricahua Apache warrior Geronimo. He lives in New Mexico with his wife and family where he carries on the traditions and customs of the Apache Native Americans (also known as American Indians).
His descendants, who live on reservation lands granted after the Indian Wars in Mescalero, New Mexico, are inheritors of that doggedness. By vocation and avocation they continue their ancestor’s fight for Apache survival.