These analysis questions challenge the student’s careful viewing of Geronimo. They can be used as a handout for students to fill out as each answer is revealed in the film.
- Chapter One, Surrounded by Enemies
The Apache way of life and Geronimo as a young man
- What did the Mexican government do in response to the constant theft of property by Apaches? Did this stop the Apache?
- How did Geronimo change in response to the murder of his mother, wife, and three small children by Mexican troops?
- Chapter Two, Ravages of War
Geronimo’s loss, revenge, and power
- How did Geronimo receive the gift of power and what did this mean in the Apache belief system? How did he demonstrate his gift against the Mexicans?
- What were Geronimo's and his peoples’ feelings toward the first Americans they encountered? What were those men doing in Apache territory?
- What new land did the U.S. gain in 1848, after the Mexican American War?
- What event drove Americans through the Southwest?
- Characterize the people who descended on Arizona in the quest for gold.
- What pushed Cochise to violent action against whites?
- Chapter Three, Two Years of Peace
Indian Wars, General Crook and the reservation system, death of Cochise
- Who did President Ulysses S. Grant send to Arizona to institute a new federal Indian policy? What was this policy and how did this differ from previous federal policy?
- What was the choice Crook gave the Apache? How did the Apache know about the choice Navajos had been given ten years prior?
- What happened to the Apaches who agreed to settle on reservations? What incentives were they offered?
- What deal did Cochise strike with the U.S.? What happened when he died?
- When agent John Clum delivered the news about the move to San Carlos to the Chiracahua people, how did Geronimo respond? How was Clum double-crossed?
- Chapter Four, Rejecting the Reservation
The last Indian War, bloody resistance and a stronghold
- What was life like for Geronimo during the four years he spent at the San Carlos reservation?
- Who was the Dreamer and why did white people feel threatened by him? When he was wounded in a firefight, how did Apache scouts react? How were they punished?
- By the time Geronimo and his people reached their “stronghold” what other tribes had already been forced onto reservations? What did this stronghold mean to the Chiracahua?
- After several months of traditional life in the stronghold, what audacious and controversial plan did Geronimo develop and why? What was the outcome of this plan?
- Chapter Five, On the Run
Final escape and desperate running
- How did General Crook find the stronghold? What premonition did Geronimo have about this?
- Why did Geronimo flee Turkey Creek in 1885 and continue to run while many Native peoples were beginning to settle down?
- Chapter Six, The Legend
Geronimo becomes famous as the "worst Indian who ever lived"
- Why did Geronimo surrender to Crook in 1886 and then flee again?
- Chapter Seven, Prisoners of War
Punishment and legacy
- What happened to the Chiracahua after Geronimo surrendered for the last time?
- Why were Apache children sent to boarding schools far away?
- After centuries of warfare between Indians and settlers, what did Geronimo’s surrender signify? How did America change after the Indian Wars were over?
- Why did President Theodore Roosevelt tell Geronimo he couldn’t return to Arizona?
- Why were the Chiracahua angry with Geronimo while Americans celebrated him?
- On his death bed, what did Geronimo say was his last regret?
- How did Geronimo become a legend and a symbol of the untamed freedom of the American West?
These comprehension questions challenge students to make connections and understand the effects of historical circumstances on this particular chapter of history, the cause and effect relationships between historical events and social movements, and the effects of implementing U.S. policy.
- What was “manifest destiny” and how did it fuel the westward expansion that encroached on Indian territory? Research Frederick Jackson Turner's “frontier thesis.” Turner stated that the spirit and success of the U.S. was directly tied to the country’s westward expansion. How did the ultimate closing of the frontier change the way Americans perceived Native peoples? How were Native peoples like Geronimo and Sitting Bull portrayed in the myth of the American West?
- Between the 1820s and the 1850s, the U.S. experienced explosive growth and the beginnings of an industrial revolution. Besides transportation (railroads) and communication (the telegraph), there were major changes in journalism. What were these changes and how did they affect the lives of Native peoples in the Southwest? How did newspapers spread the idea of “manifest destiny"? How did they hasten the end of the Indian Wars?
- What tensions led to the Mexican-American War? What reportedly “staged” border incident caused President James K. Polk to start the war? How were Apache homelands affected (present-day New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas) by the Mexican American War of 1846? In what other areas of the country were settlers urging the U.S. government to take possession of disputed land?
- The discovery of gold in 1848 ushered in the California Gold Rush. Why was the discovery of gold so disastrous for the Native people in the region? Of all the groups in the West, miners have the worst record of interacting with Native people. Why do you think that is?
- During the 1850s, conflicts over states' rights and slavery caused sectional tensions that ultimately led to the Civil War. What economic opportunities in the West and Southwest put pressure on the U.S. to resolve the status of slaves in the territories?
- More than a million square miles of new territory came under U.S. control in the 1840s. Most emigrants traveled over the great overland trails to get to these new lands. Which trails did travelers use to travel through Apache country and what economic opportunities awaited them? How were they treated by Native peoples as they passed through Native lands?
Map: Trails through Apache country
- Examine the particular political borders of Apacheria and the climate and terrain of the region. Evaluate how these factors enabled Apaches to resist effective American control over them for so long.
- How did the U.S. Army respond to potential threats to movement and settlement following the annexation of Texas in 1845, the settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute in 1846, and the successful conclusion of the Mexican War in 1848? Why did their actions harden Indian opposition and provoke more violence?
- The Dreamer emerged at a time of great distress for the Apache people. What other examples are there of Native American religious leaders who offered their people religious deliverance during times of considerable social, economic and political upheaval?
- Look up the Indian Appropriation Act of 1851, which authorized the creation of Indian reservations in modern-day Oklahoma. What purposes did reservations serve? What were some of the controversies that arose from this policy? Research what happened to these reservations.
- Enforcement of the reservation system resulted in some of the bloodiest wars between Native peoples and the U.S. What were the conditions on reservations that led to these wars? What was the Dawes Act of 1887 and how did it change the reservation system? Why did it fail?
- What was the Civil War’s impact on the Southwest during Geronimo’s time? What happened to government resources and the reservations? How did military technology used in the Civil War affect the outcome of the Indian Wars? Did the Native peoples of the Southwest participate in the Civil War?