09/08/2023 (Fri) 07:51
Parachute Politics - Scream Geronimo!
In a reversal of the Wild West legend, the intrusive colonialist Richardson scalped the exiled Apache natives of this state. Adding insult to injury for the legendary chief Geronimo’s Chiricahua Band (living in exile in Oklahoma) was falsely promised, drained of cash and betrayed in a New Mexico casino deal by the then Governor. The Chihuahua Desert region adjoining the southern border was and is the original homeland of Geronimo’s tribe, which defended their barren but sovereign territory with forays into Mexico, which culminated in the mass murder of the Apache chief Victorio and his followers, who were known to the Mexicans as “Los Gilenos” or the Gila People.
Born in the Gila mountains, a bit north of Silver City NM, Geronimo was not born into chiefdom like Cochise or Victorio but was an eccentric mystic, more of a medicine man guided by divine inspiration, with a ruthless edge. His tiny band’s raids against Mexico to avenge the massacre of his wife and children were the stuff of ghost stories and frontier legends. His method of fighting went beyond bravery verging into a seance-inspired dance, as he ran zigzag crazily to dodge the Mexican army’s bullets and then slashing throats and stabbing his foes with a knife, a horrifying spectacle that prompted los Federales to flee in fright from the much-feared demon-shaman.
Meanwhile, the inveterately corrupt Mexican government opened up Chihuahua’s copper-rich mountains to American investors and railway companies, which meant the U.S. Army had to quell the Apaches as part of the unspoken bilateral deal to enrich the politicians on both sides of the border (so what else is new when it comes to patriotism?). Chased from the edge of Arizona to the dismal waterless heart of the Chihuahua desert inhabited by javelina (wild pecary pigs) and their predators, the spotted ocelot cat, Geronimo’s tiny band of 37 followers were the last Apaches to surrender to the U.S. military. They were detained in the bone-dry wasteland near Florida (floor-ree-dah) mountain before rail passage to the state of Florida for mass detention. (The names of the state and mountain both mean, ironically, “flowery”; so try not to smell the roses.)
Despite their final transfer to an Oklahoma reservation shared with the Mescalero and Fort Sill Apaches tribes, the descendants of Geronimo’s fighters never gave up their determination to return to the New Mexican desert south of the Gila range, where their confinement at Akela provided a legitimate federal and state case for a tangible homeland. At last, in a proposed casino deal with Gov. Bill Richardson, their dream of an end to exile finally came true, or so they assumed, wrongly.