OK, so Goyahkla may not be
the most exciting name in the Indian phone book, but he is the
person for whom the U.S. Army named its Apache helicopter. Like most
of the men and women profiled in this column, you've heard of him,
even if you don't recognize his name yet. But you will.
Goyahkla was born in the late 1820s near the upper Gila River in
what is now New Mexico. It was part of Mexico at the time, and since
Indian families didn't keep written records like we do today, his
exact birth date is not known. What is known is that he rode in
President Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 inaugural parade and that he
also had his image placed on a postage stamp.
Goyahkla was an Apache leader but not a chief. He was a medicine
man, military leader and spiritual leader whom the chiefs turned to
Goyahkla was in Mexico on a trading excursion in 1850 when
Spanish troops swarmed through his family's camp and killed his
mother, wife and three children. He sought revenge by killing as
many Mexicans as possible. It was his fierce skill as a fighter that
caused Mexicans to cry out to Saint Jerome for help.
In the early 1870s, the U.S. government began placing Apache
Indians in reservations. In 1886, Goyahkla was the leader of the
last group of Indians to surrender to the federal government.
There are three towns in the United States that are named after
him (they are in Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas), and there have been
more than 25 television and movie characters based on him.
[to top of second column]
So who exactly is the patron saint of libraries -- the one whose
name warriors call out when they go into battle?
None other than Saint Jerome, whose birth name was Eusebius
Hieronymous Sophronius. He was born in A.D. 342 near the Adriatic
Sea. His name, and the name of the great Indian warrior Goyahkla,
when translated into Spanish, means ... drumroll, please ...
But there's more to this story.
Geronimo died in 1905 and was buried at Fort Sill, Okla. It has
been alleged that in 1918 his skull and other bones were taken from
his burial site by none other than Prescott Bush and two other Army
volunteers. All three were members of Yale's secret Skull and Bones
society. Prescott Bush was the father of President George H.W. Bush
and grandfather of George Bush. To this day, it is not known whether
the bones were actually from Geronimo, although Geronimo's
great-grandson, Harlyn Geronimo, wrote a letter to the current
President Bush, requesting his help in the return of Geronimo's
Paul Niemann is the author of the
"Invention Mysteries" series of books. He can be reached at
Copyright Paul Niemann 2008