These activities are designed to help students understand issues related to WE SHALL REMAIN episode 4, "Geronimo."

Geography, Politics, and the Apache Way of Life

The class will understand the complexity of the Apache way of life and how geography and political forces shaped and destroyed the Apaches' world in the 1800s.

As a class, make a map of the U.S. and divide it into six regions, indicating groups of Native American tribes that shared similar cultures because of land or geography: Woodland, Southeast, Great Plains, Great Basin, Southwest, and Northwest. Discuss and make a list of the geographic and natural resources of each region.

Use the following websites to overlay the paths of westward migration, including land routes and railroads:

PBS—American Experience—Transcontinental Railroad
PBS—American Experience—The Gold Rush

As a class, review relevant parts of the following film chapters:

Chapter 1, Surrounded by Enemies

Chapter 4, Rejecting the Reservation

What geographic and political forces specifically shaped the lifestyle of the Apaches? How did it change with the forced removal to San Carlos?

Hold a class debate on the following statement:

"The overwhelming need for resources for the increasing U.S. population created an unstoppable and inevitable westward migration that changed the lifestyle of the Native peoples of the Southwest and other regions forever."

Divide the class into two teams to take the supporting and opposing positions. Each team should discuss among themselves the best argument in favor of their position. Make sure each side is allotted time to make its case and offer a rebuttal to the other's arguments. After the debate, poll the class: which side made the best case for their position?

Leaders and Leadership

Students will understand the different kinds of leaders the Apache people turned to for their survival.

Research the many names that were given to Geronimo. What do they mean and who gave him the names? How does this help us understand who he was? Why are names so important to Native American people? How are they associated with medicine or personal power?

There were many charismatic Apache leaders. Each student will choose one of these leaders to study, then write and deliver a brief speech describing his or her life, leadership approach, and noting the important events in which the leader took part.

  1. Mangas Coloradas
  2. Cochise
  3. Eskiminzin
  4. Juh
  5. Victorio
  6. Lozen
  7. Nana
  8. Chato
  9. Nachez
  10. Loco
  11. Chihuahua

After all the Apache leaders are presented, have the class discuss the characteristics and accomplishments that made each person a leader.

As a class, review relevant parts of chapter 7, Prisoners of War, about how Geronimo was viewed by different people. Compare Geronimo to the other Apache leaders above. Discuss: Was Geronimo a hero or the cause of unnecessary hardship for his people? How does his myth stand up to reality? Why did he become a legend?

The Assault on Native Peoples

Students will understand how U.S. policies of assimilation and forced removal led to a great decline of Native populations by 1900, and explore attitudes toward Geronimo and his actions in response to the assault on his people.

Divide the class into several groups to accomplish these tasks:

  1. Research and compare estimated total Indian populations in 1800 and 1900. Create a chart illustrating the population change.
  2. Examine the economic and political forces that caused federal officials to believe that the reservation system was failing by the late 1880s. Did tribal people on reservations agree with this assessment? Why or why not?

Once the groups have completed their research, the population chart should be distributed to the class and the groups should briefly present their findings.

Ask each student to write a one-paragraph assessment of Geronimo with this information in mind: Many Chiricahua Apaches still hold Geronimo responsible for the incarceration of their ancestors and for their banishment from the homelands. Many white Americans have come to view Geronimo as a fearless, heroic leader. What is your view of his leadership and actions?

Cultural Survival

Students will understand the importance of language, beliefs, symbols, and ceremonies to the survival of Native Americans.

  1. Coyote is a key figure in the Apache world. As a class, watch the animated film segments in "Geronimo":
    • Chapter 1, Surrounded by Enemies: Creation
    • Chapter 2, Ravages of War: Power
    • Chapter 5, On the Run: Coyote as the trickster

    Discuss the characteristics of the sacred trickster. What do you think each segment means?

  2. Much tribal history has been passed down orally through stories told about tribal ancestors. Yet all Americans are shaped and defined by their past. Write and tell the class a story about your family and ancestors. How does this story help define who you are?
  3. How are some of the ReelNative participants using their art to keep Native American culture and tradition alive in the modern world? As a class or in groups, watch the following ReelNative videos:
    • Courtney M. Leonard (Shinnecock), "Untitled"
    • Michael Little (Navajo), "Hill High Low"
    • Merced Maldonado (Yaqui), "Untitled"
    • Ryan Singer (Diné), "Art from a Can"
    • Yolanda Hart Stevens (Pee-Posh/Quechan), "Off the Rack"
    • Steffany Suttle (Lummi), “Awakening of the Spirit”
  4. Discuss as a class: do you believe the continued use of language, beliefs, symbols, and ceremonies of the Southwest's Native peoples helped them survive? What purposes do cultural practices serve today?

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American Experience