Geronimo (June 16, 1829 to February 17, 1909) was an important leader of the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache. Active in the Apache-American conflict, Geronimo was part of a number of small raids in Northern Mexico and the American Southwest. The conflict began after the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, and Geronimo was active in it between 1850 and 1866.
The primary Apache defense strategy during these years of conflict was relatively small-scale raids. These raids served a military and strategic purpose, but also an economic one. These raids varied dramatically, from the theft of livestock and supplies, to the taking of human captives. European settlers responded with equal violence on a regular basis.
Geronimo was not well-liked among his own people. He did not lead a tribe, nor was he a war chief. He was a successful leader of a raiding band, and typically had between 30 and 50 direct followers. Many Apache who knew him believed he had supernatural gifts, including the ability to see the future.
Between 1876 and 1886, Geronimo accepted U.S. terms, and made his home on the Apache reservation. This was in direct opposition to traditional ways of life for the Apache, and illness was prevalent. He left the reservation and resumed raiding several times during these years. In 1886, Geronimo again surrendered and was resettled to Oklahoma, where he began farming.
In 1898, Geronimo attended the Trans-Mississippi International Exposition, and was a star attraction. He continued in this public role until his death; however, he remained, legally, a prisoner-of-war, even meeting with President Theodore Roosevelt to request an end to that status for himself and other Apaches. This request was denied. Geronimo was still a prisoner-of-war at the time of his death in 1909 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.