I Fought with Geronimo
Jason Betzinez with Wilbur Sturtevant Nye
Stackpole Company, 1959
“The Apache could always be baited, by means of intoxicating liquor, to enter any trap. Even the enticing smell of aguardiente dulled his native caution.”
This quotation from Jason Betzinez from page three proves to be a crucial one in this book for many reasons. The Apache Indians are trapped, taken kidnapped, and tricked many times; some of these times, it is their own fault due to being irresponsible when it comes to the obvious: liquor. The Apaches are good people but have a tendency to take good times too far. They are very gullible at times with believing they have “friends” to trust.
The Apache Indians (in this case the Warm Spring Apaches) are proven to be irresponsible right at the beginning of the book. They are tricked to come into Ramos near Columbus, New Mexico, when they get drunk and Mexicans attack them in the middle of the night. In revenge, the Apache then attack the Mexicans and kill many. Many of the Apaches are taken to a prison camp at this time. Some of them die at camp, but others are lucky to escape and are told where to escape to by a nice Mexican man along the way. Geronimo, an important leader, has two wives and kids at this time that are murdered because he was drinking at this time, which I feel is a very vague excuse.
Betzinez talks about war then talks about his cousin, Nah-thle-tla, who is taken as a slave. Luckily to her, she ends up in a nice family that gives her fruit as well as more freedom than most slaves have. She escapes in the middle of the night when the family is asleep! She then finds a pony and takes it over the Rio Grande River where she sees three Apache Indians that lead her back to her mom. She is then married and captured again by Mexicans, but these soldiers want to make peace. The Government then gives the Indians a peaceful portion of the land that is supposed to be granted to them for all their years to come, but it only lasts sixteen years when the whites take it over, which would disappoint me due to what the Apaches were guaranteed.
After they lose their land, an event known as the “Cut Through the Tent” occurs when Cochise, an Apache leader, and his men are in a tent at a Government meeting and are tricked. After being surrounded by soldiers, Cochise and a couple others cut through the tent they are in and escape, but Cochise himself later die. The Apache then start getting accused of nearly everything. All men, women, and children are searched for weapons, and they are all put on one reservation. This results in smallpox breaking out drastically in their area, which I feel would be devastating!
Next, Geronimo and Juh (both important leaders) lead groups to Mexico, back to the United States to get ammunition, then return to Mexico. A downfall is them being caught by Mexicans twice along the way. Both Geronimo and Juh escape alive during the Mexican encounters. Then, they split up because Geronimo wants to be more risky, but they end up getting back together.
The first half of this book gives me a great feel of what’s happening, as well as what may happen. It not only gives me an interesting history background, but it also reminds me of all the battles us humans have to go through in our daily lives. This story makes me realize that life could always be worse. Jason explains well the difficulties that he and his master Geronimo face, but he tries to stay positive much of the time, which I feel is a good virtue to have throughout my life. I believe that the rest of the book will explain more of Geronimo’s fascinating stories about facing enemies and conquering through the bad times. The major question that I will want to answer is this: Will the Apache ever end their disputes with the United States and the Mexicans peacefully? I am interested to read more and find out the outcome of this story.