From Cochise to Geronimo: The Chiricahua Apaches, 1874-1886

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University of Oklahoma Press, 2010 - History - 706 pages
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In the decade after the death of their revered chief Cochise in 1874, the Chiricahua Apaches struggled to survive as a people and their relations with the U.S. government further deteriorated. In From Cochise to Geronimo, Edwin R. Sweeney builds on his previous biographies of Chiricahua leaders Cochise and Mangas Coloradas to offer a definitive history of the turbulent period between Cochise's death and Geronimo's surrender in 1886.

Sweeney shows that the cataclysmic events of the 1870s and 1880s stemmed in part from seeds of distrust sown in 1861 and 1863, when the American military betrayed Cochise and treacherously murdered Mangas Coloradas. In 1876 and 1877, the U.S. government proposed to move the Chiricahuas from their ancestral homelands in New Mexico and Arizona to the reviled San Carlos Reservation. Some made the move, but most refused to go or soon fled the unhealthy conditions and corruption at San Carlos, recognizing the government's concentration policy as continued U.S. perfidy. Bands under the leadership of Victorio and Geronimo went south into the Sierra Madre of Mexico, a redoubt from which they conducted bloody raids on American soil.

Sweeney's balanced account of life on and off the reservation in the 1870s and 1880s details the Chiricahuas' ordeal in maintaining their identity despite forced relocations, sustained warfare, and confinement. By the time of Geronimo's surrender to the United States---after he had eluded American troops, Apache scouts, and Mexican forces for a year---disease, continual violence, and social upheaval had reduced the Chiricahua population to just 540 people. Sweeney recounts the tragic blow the U.S. government dealt the Chiricahuas after a final outbreak in 1885: all surviving members, including those who had remained at San Carlos all along and even those who had served as army scouts, were transferred from Arizona to a Florida prison.

Drawing on American and Mexican archives, some only recently opened, From Cochise to Geronimo offers the most detailed and accurate account to date of the Chiricahua Apaches. Resigned to accommodation with Americans but intent on preserving their culture, they were determined to survive as a people.

Volume 268 in The Civilization of the American Indian Series

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The First Chiricahua Reservations

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About the author (2010)

Edwin R. Sweeney is an independent scholar and one of the preeminent historians of the Apaches. He is the author of Cochise: Chiricahua Apache Chief and Mangas Coloradas: Chief of the Chiricahua Apaches.

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