|Chief Geronimo by Edward R. Curtis|
Geronimo’s birth name was Goyathlay . He lived in what is now New Mexico, but during his time was part of Mexico. It was his fierce response to the attacks perpetrated by Mexican soldiers that earned him the name St. Jerome (Geronimo in Spanish). These soldiers invoked the name of this Roman Catholic saint to protect them against prowess of Goyathlay’s resistance. He would later defend himself and his people from U.S. aggression, though evetually he would be captured and live his life as a prisoner of war until his death in 1909.
( *As an aside, look into the rumor, that has yet to be laid to rest, that Prescott Bush, George W.’s grandfather, stole Geronimo’s skull. …American history? )
Here’s a poem by Renny Golden that I recently discovered.
By Renny Golden
Words, you Whites, want words.
Nothing, I give you nothing.
Here, stones, the Sierra Madres has
something you can’t use:
the witness of rocks who speak
the language of mountains. We are
this land, stones inside the rain, inside
the mountain which keeps the graves.
Here, Grey Wolf, is another lie, hard
as granite, I give it to you, call it sustenance.
Eat---Why do I give you promise after promise,
rock instead of bread? I want to break your
trust the way Mexicans broke my wife, my mother,
my three babies, their scalps in blood rivers. What
fear can you offer to a dead man? After that
I did not pray…I had no purpose left. I could not
call back my loved ones. I could not bring back
dead Apaches but I could rejoice in …revenge.
So no, I’m not trustworthy. I am wily,
a coyote slipping into shadow. Is it
honor to promise open land and pen us
at San Carlos, that stink hole? See our
lonely ponies, our mountains pouring.
What did you expect…truth? Whose?
Every vow a snakebite; every safe place
a trap. Treachery? Oh, I am a holy trickster,
son of White Painted Woman. I love mescal
which is all I have left of escape, a poison as greedy
as the givers. Mescal… there is something of use.
We are not.