The Apache warriors fought against the United States Army throughout the post-Civil War period until forced onto reservations through treaties in the 1880s. On May 17, 1886, Geronimo joined a number of chiefs, and abandoned (“a breakout”) the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona with his followers and fled to Mexico. Reservation life forced the nomadic bands into static lives of farming or simple trading and they “died like flies” from epidemic diseases that occasionally ravaged the reservations. Crossing into Mexico, the Apaches raided farms and villages with abandon, knowing they would not be followed by American cavalry troopers over the hundreds of miles of desert and mountainous terrain in Mexico.
A group of Geronimo’s people and followers (18 men, women and children) in their camp in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico, March of 1886
Mexico agreed to let American General George Crook cross the border and pursue the renegade Apaches and run them to ground. More than a hundred Apache scouts assisted the American cavalry. With their tracking ability and knowledge of Indian hideouts and tactics, the scouts successfully led the American soldiers to Geronimo and his company, who had on occasion crossed back into the United States to replenish supplies. During three days of negotiation, Geronimo broke loose with a few followers and headed for the hills again. Sheridan accepted Crook’s resignation and assigned Nelson Miles to bring Geronimo in. Hungry and exhausted, the Geronimo band surrendered in September of 1886.
Geronimo poses with members of his tribe and General George Crook’s staff during peace negotiations on March 27, 1886