Rawdon Tomlinson's Geronimo After Kas-ki-yeh tells the story of
the famous Chiricahua Apache war shaman who, after his family is
massacred by Mexicans in 1851, makes revenge the driving force of
his life. The Chiricahua suffer loss of genocidal proportions. In
later years, Geronimo suffers a recurring nightmare of his people
dying like a sun, never to rise again. The ordinary and
extraordinary events of his life and those of his tribe unfold from
Mexico and the Arizona Territory in the Southwest to Florida,
Alabama, and finally Oklahoma, where the dwindling tribe is held in
captivity until 1913. As a prisoner of war, the legendary shaman
once feared by Mexicans and Americans alike takes on such mundane
duties as tending crops and cleaning house for his sick wife.
Though he never gives up his native religion, he supplements it
with Christianity and even teaches Sunday school ("I don't think
I'm an Indian anymore"). Eventually he becomes a showman-traveling
to expositions, riding in rodeos and parades, hawking autographs.
On his deathbed he imagines that "Heaven is endless bullets and
Mexicans." Woven into this disturbing yet poignant chronicle are
threads of the Chiricahua Life-Way, with its emphasis on family,
its humor, its spiritual strength, and its ability to meet hardship
with courage. Tomlinson's moving collection-bolstered throughout by
remarkable historical accuracy-is a meditation on the meaning of
family, a cultural identity suppressed, the consuming desire for
vengeance, and the theft of human dignity.
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