How We Lived On It (45) – Geronimo

by A. Jay Adler on January 7, 2012
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Just over three years ago, Julia and I were present for the aftermath of a blessing ceremony – the participants and witnesses of which had been Apaches only – on the San Carlos Apache reservation. “The purpose of the ceremony,” I wrote at the time, “was to prepare the land for the installation of a memorial to be unveiled on February 17, 2009, the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Geronimo, who died in captivity, a prisoner of war, finally, for 23 years, at Fort Sills, Oklahoma, where he is buried.”

Here is the ending of episode four of the PBS documentary We Shall Remain, a history of Native Amerian “seen through native eyes.” Julia and I witnessed first hand and repeatedly how controversial Geronimo remains among Apaches. Of course, I recommend the whole episode and the entire five-part series, which can be viewed online. For now, if you have another thirteen minutes, the beginning of episode four will give some idea of how and why Geronimo became the vengeful warrior of renown.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob January 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Watched all five episodes of We Shall Remain. From the Wampanoag to Wounded Knee, what a terrific (and horrific) series. And I’m likely not the first, but I propose replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with John Ross.


A. Jay Adler January 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I’m with you on the $20 bill, Rob. I’m in the midst of a bio of Ross now, and Jackson epitomized U.S. (what we now call) ethnic cleansing of American Indians. He was our own Ratko Mladić.


Rob January 13, 2012 at 6:47 pm

What I also found impressive about that episode was that it didn’t take the easy path when viewing the ultimate fate of the Ridges. The statement by Ross’s descendant about them was very poignant. One can only imagine the complex decisions they all encountered under such duress. And I liked that they didn’t hide the fact that both families owned slaves.

And really, I always love seeing Wes Studi. Even when he’s the heavy. Especially so when Russell Means gives him his comeuppance in Last of the Mohicans. Now that’s a terrific scene.

Maybe it’s time to start a tweet campaign to replace Jackson with Ross.


Maureen January 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

This raises such a complex of emotions and perspectives and thoughts but I ultimately come away feeling deeply saddened by our history of the treatment of American Indians, treatment which even today remains appalling, as anyone who has ever visited a pueblo or reservation can attest.


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