Most Impressive Native American Leader

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Haley Aldridge
History 1302
Bruce 6th
Most Impressive Native American Leader

After the Civil War the United States looked westward to expand the nation to

the Pacific Ocean. An impediment to westward expansion was Native Americans

already occupying an claiming large territories. Most Native Americans did not

understand the scope or magnitude of the hordes of people moving west. The

primitive tribes of Native America were unprepared to deal with the magnitude

of change that was to be forced on them. As with most people in times of need,

Native American leaders emerged out of necessity. Geronimo, Chief Joseph and

Sitting Bull were three Native Americans leaders who lived in different geographic

regions of the western territories and were members of different tribes. Each

gained notoriety as impressive Native American leaders. Of the three, Sitting

Bull was the most impressive leader.

Geronimo, an Apache and member of the Bedonkohe group, lived in Northern

Mexico bordering the current states of Arizona and New Mexico. Geronimo lived

in peace until Mexican troops attacked his village in his absence. His mother,

wife, three children and many other villagers were murdered.1

Enraged and bent on revenge, Geronimo was part of a group of warriors sent to

exact revenge on the Mexican Army Garrison thought to be responsible for the

attack on the Apache village.2 A trap was set, the Mexican soldiers from the

garrison gave chase. All but one was killed. The captain was captured alive and

set on fire within sight of his village.3 Rage and the need for revenge defined the

rest of Geronimo's life.

Geronimo, along with small bands of Apaches, continued to raid settlements and

murder remote settlers in northern Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico. The Tribal

Apaches west and north of the Bedonkohe. Apaches signed a treaty and agreed to

move to a reservation.4 Geronimo did not feel compelled to move to the

reservation since his tribe did not sign the treaty. Geronimo and others

continued to raid and kill settlers. A United States Army General was dispatched

to the area to get the Indians on the reservation.5 On the reservation Geronimo

was suspicious of the reservation agents and soldiers. His rage drove

him to stir up small groups of Apaches who wanted to raid outside the

reservation.6 Geronimo's and others actions caused hardships on the reservation

Indians.7 Eventually Geronimo was captured and sent to Fort Pickens for a year.

Declared a prisoner of war, Geronimo was sent to an island out post in Pensacola

Bay, Florida. From there he was moved to Fort Sill Oklahoma where he resided

until his death.

Geronimo never achieved a tribal rank of a chief. He did lead small bands of

warriors on raids.8 His actions were not necessarily supported by the Apache

nation. He never did anything that improved conditions for his nation. Some

Apaches testified in eyewitness accounts that he was a cowardly vengeful killer.

Chief Joseph was born in 1840 and died in 1904. Chief Joseph inherited the

Joseph name from his father. The younger Joseph was educated at an Oregon

Mission post and converted to Christianity.9 As a young man he was an active

supporter of peace with the whites.

Chief Joseph was thrust into a Chieftain role of the Nec Perez Tribe of Native

Americans when his father died. Shortly after Joseph became Chief, a group of

Nec Perez warriors who did not want to move to a small reservation staged a raid

on white settlers.10 After weighing the potential consequences of the raid and the

repercussions to follow, Joseph decided to try and move the tribe to Canada and

not go to the reservation. Approximately three thousand troops U.S. Army were

dispatched to capture Chief Joseph and Nez Perez Tribe. About seven hundred

Nez...