The name Geronimo is loaded: One can use it as a pejorative for a blood-thirsty savage, or as a cry of abandon while leaping into the Salt River.
Beyond Geronimo: The Apache Experience tells the story behind the name. The Heard Museum exhibit runs through January 20, 2013 and offers an unvarnished glimpse of the Apache warrior including Geronimo-bilia never seen by the general public.
Born in the modern-day state of New Mexico, circa 1829, Geronimo was radicalized as a young man when he returned from a trading expedition to find that Mexican soldiers had massacred his mother, wife and children. “Revenge became an overriding obsession with him after that,” Heard curator Janet Cantley says.
Geronimo fearlessly waged war on Mexican settlements for the next two decades before expanding the fight to American territories, culminating in the Arizona Indian Wars of 1880-1886. Ultimately, he was captured by the U.S. Army and spent the rest of his life as a celebrity war-trophy, attending President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade and the 1904 World’s Fair. The Heard exhibit culls artifacts from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian to paint a portrait of a true American original. For more information, visit heard.org.
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