Sunday, April 26, 2020

Geronimo: The Last Words of a Once Proud and Glorious American Indian

By Al Colombo

The art of playing 'Cowboys and Indians' hinges on the following items:
  1. Cowboys: They must have at least one cap gun each (two is better) with a nice, leather holster; a cowboy hat; and a pair of slick cowboy boots.
  2. Indians: They must have a least one bow (without an arrow please), an Indian headdress with a least one feather in it, some red paint (NOT), and a pair of leather moccasins.
Well, after playing Cowboys and Indians a few hundred times as a kid, I grew up, grew out (literally), and eventually became interested in the historic aspects of the Cowboys and Indians issues. My interest grew and finally, here we are, writing and reading the Western Magazine Digest!

One of my things on the political level has always been the bad deal dealt to the American Indian as the white man expanded from east to west. The Apache's fought the Spaniards before the nation they called home ever became America. After the Revolutionary War was over and a new nation was borne, Geronimo and his warriors faced off with North Americans.

Perhaps one of the most compelling stories to come out of the old west was that of Goyathlay Geronimo, leader of the Bedancoa Apache Indian tribe. He was born in 1829 in a place called No-Doyohn Canyon, Mexico. He died of Pneumonia in 1909 in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He's interned there in Beef Creek Apache Cemetery.

I ran across Geronimo's last words in a book, and I knew it was necessary to share them with you, our Western Magazine Digest Cowboys, Cowgirls, and American Indian readers! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on his life and his passing, a man who was denied the privilege of spending his last moments on the land of his choosing. Please email me at

We are now held on Comanche and Kiowa lands, which are not suited to our needs … There is no climate or soil which, to my mind, is equal to that of Arizona. We could have plenty of good cultivating land, plenty of grass, plenty of timber and plenty of minerals in that land which the Almighty created for the Apaches. It is my land, my home, my fathers' land, to which I now ask to be allowed to return. I want to spend my last days there, and be buried among those mountains. If this could be I might die in peace, feeling that my people, placed in their native homes, would increase in numbers, rather than diminish as at present, and that our name would not become extinct.

I know that if my people were placed in that mountainous region lying around the head waters of the Gila River they would live in peace and act according to the will of the President. They would be prosperous and happy in tilling the soil and learning the civilization of the white men, whom they now respect. Could I but see this accomplished, I think I could forget all the wrongs that I have ever received, and die a contented and happy old man. Source: Geronimo His own story, American History

I personally find it sad that Geronimo was not granted his last request. His above words were written by this great medicine man and warrior in his autobiography in 1907, two years before his death when he was 79 years of age. Tell you what, here's the link to a web page where you can read all of Geronimo's heartfelt thoughts and much more:
Editor's Note: Be sure to tune in next weekend, Sunday morning at 8 a.m., when Timothy England presents his research on Walter Brennan. Don't miss it! --By Al Colombo

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