February 18, 2002

Geronimo and the Apache culture of his youth


Keywords: geronimo apache culture Chief Geronimo No-doyon canyon Goyathlay Goyahkla apache games Apache ritual APACHE god Usen apache taboos apaches ceremonies Apache Indians first moccasins ceremony Bedonkohe Apache tribe hoop-and-pole game

Author: Rhea M. Coleman

One day, so ordinary its events were not recorded exactly, but known to be during the 1820s, in the high desert canyon called No-doyon, near the Gila River, a boy child was born to Taklishim (The Gray One) and Juana, a full-blooded Apache woman who had escaped from Spanish slavery.

He was named Goyahkla (or Goyathlay). Some said it should be translated as: One who yawns, however, with a slightly different accent it meant: intelligent, shrewd, clever. The second translation better fits this boy’s character.

As happened to every Apache Indian child, at birth, he was rolled in the earth toward the east, the north, the west and the south.

Each time in his roving when he returned to his birth site he performed the same ritual: no matter his age, he rolled on the earth toward each of the four directions. Even in danger he preformed this obligatory ritual.

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