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Geronimo Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Lindsey Spencer

Lindsey has taught regular and special educations students in grades 1-8 since 2009 and has a master's degree in special education.

Geronimo is one of the most famous Native Americans in history, but do you really know about his life? In this lesson, you will learn about Geronimo's life as a warrior fighting Mexico and the United States.

Geronimo's Early Life

Have you ever yelled 'Geronimo!' when you jumped off of something high? Would you be surprised to learn that Geronimo was a real person, and not just a crazy thing to yell?

Geronimo, who was part of the Apache tribe, was born in 1892 in Arizona. His original name was Goyathlay, which means 'one who yawns.' At that time, Arizona belonged to Mexico, and the area where Geronimo lived was raided, or attacked, by other Native American tribes. Geronimo had to be strong and brave, and he was trained to be a warrior and a hunter from a very young age. When Geronimo was about 17, he got married. He and his wife had three children.

One day, while Geronimo was away, his village was attacked. When Geronimo heard about this, he rushed home only to find out that his wife, children, and mother had all been killed.

Geronimo in 1887

Geronimo the Warrior

To get revenge on the people who killed his family, Geronimo gathered a group of about 200 men. Geronimo and his group spent the next ten years fighting the Mexican soldiers who had killed his family.

No one knows exactly how Geronimo got the name Geronimo. One story says that because he was such a fierce fighter, Mexican soldiers were afraid whenever they saw him. To get help, Mexican soldiers would yell out to Saint Jerome. Jerome, in Spanish, is Geronimo. The Apache warriors thought that this was a good war cry, and Goyathlay became Geronimo.

When the Mexican-American war ended in 1848, the United States gained control of a lot of land that Mexico owned. This land includes states that we now call Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California. With new land, many Americans moved west and began settling. The United States government had promised the Apaches that they would be able to keep their land, but took that promise back.

Geronimo, on far right, and some of his group
Geronimo and group

This made Geronimo very angry. He fought against the Americans for 38 years. During this time, people either loved Geronimo and thought he was a hero, or they hated him and thought he was reckless. Geronimo surrendered in 1886 and was sent to prison.

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