From Warfare to World Fair: The Ideological Commodification of Geronimo in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century United States
During the latter portion of the Apache Wars (1848-1886), a Chiricahua leader named Geronimo achieved considerable notoriety in Euro-American culture as an archetypally savage and antagonistic figure, and an obstacle to the realization of the United States as a non-native, non-Mexican space. However, following Geronimo's capture in 1886, he was increasingly viewed not as a villain but as a native curiosity from a vanishing sociocultural group, an ideology that would later merge with the more humanistic viewpoints of Geronimo as a heroic figure and model for native assimilation. The seemingly absolute transformation of Geronimo from despondent menace to folkloristic hero was not the product of binary, linear Anglo appropriation. Rather, it arose from an iterative, nonlinear discourse of collection and spectacle, wherein Euro-American perceptions informed one another to create and solidify a series of expectations. In examining these perceptions, this paper seeks to reconcile the disparate characters inhabited by Geronimo.
Cornell Historical Society