The final group of Native Americans along the Great Plains Trail are the Apache. Apache is a name that denotes a larger group of peoples, but who really belong to several different bands. The Great Plains Trail passes through Jicarilla Apache lands in northern New Mexico, and through Mescalero lands in southern New Mexico.
The Apache represent some of the last resistance to the American “frontier” and to the U.S. Army. This resistance created a distinct legend: Geronimo. Although Geronimo was from the Chiricahua band of Apache and spent much of his time in present day Arizona, he is such an important figure in the final years of the Native American resistance that it seems apropriate to mention him here.
Geronimo was not his real name. He was born Goyathlay or Goyahkla, and got his nickname from his battles with Mexican soldiers. During a particularly fierce fight, in which he was taking his revenge on the Mexicans for killing his wife, children, and mother, he began attacking them furiously with a knife. The Mexican soldiers grew afraid of him and shouted prayers to St. Jerome, or Jeronimo. U.S. soldiers nearby heard these cries and thought it may have been Goyathlay’s name. The nickname stuck.
Geronimo lived until 1909, long enough to take a ride in an automobile, but he died after falling off his horse at the age of 79. Geronimo saw the age of the Indian draw to a close, but when he was born in 1829, it was very much alive.
“I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.”
Imagine the great number of “enclosures” he would find today.