On September 4, 1886, Apache chief Geronimo surrenders to U.S. federal government military forces.
For 30 years, the mighty Native American warrior had battled to the bitter end protect his homeland.
By 1886 the Apaches were exhausted and outnumbered by United States Federal troops.
U.S. General Nelson Miles accepted Geronimo’s surrender, making him the last native Indian warrior to formally give in to U.S. forces and signaling the end of the Indian Wars in the Southwest.
Geronimo was born in 1829 and grew up in what is present-day Arizona and Mexico. His tribe, the Chiricahua Apaches, clashed with non-Native settlers trying to illegally take their land.
In 1858, Geronimo’s family was murdered by Mexicans bandits. Seeking revenge, he later led raids against Mexican and American settlers.
In 1874, the U.S. government moved Geronimo and his people from their land to a reservation in east-central Arizona but the conditions on the reservation were so restrictive and harsh that Geronimo and some of his followers escaped. Over the next decade, they battled federal troops and launched several raids on white settlements. During this time, Geronimo and his supporters were forced back onto the reservation several times.
In May 1885, Geronimo and approximately 150 followers fled one last time. They were pursued into Mexico by an entire U.S. Army Division (5,000 troops).
In March 1886, General George Crook (1829–90) forced Geronimo to surrender but Geronimo quickly escaped and continued his military operations not without success. General Nelson Miles (1839–1925) then took over the pursuit of Geronimo, eventually forcing him to surrender September 4 near Fort Bowie along the Arizona-New Mexico border.
Geronimo and a group of Apaches were sent to Florida and then Alabama, eventually ending up at the Comanche and Kiowa reservation near Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory. There, Geronimo became a successful farmer and converted to Christianity. He participated in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905. The Apache chief dictated his autobiography, published in 1906 as Geronimo’s Story of His Life.
He died at Fort Sill on February 17, 1909.