Written by legendary football coach Mike Leach, Geronimo offers lessons and inspiration from the extraordinary life of Geronimo of the Apaches. Despite being pursued almost constantly for 25 years, Geronimo was never captured by the U.S. Army—though he surrendered of his own will several times, only to escape again whenever he felt like it. His defiance, leadership, ferocity and guile made him both feared and legendary—arguably the most famous Indian in American history. President Theodore Roosevelt asked him to lead the 1905 Inaugural procession. Revering his courage, WWII paratroopers shouted “GERONIMO!” as they leapt from airplanes into battle. Geronimo is an overview of the inspiring history of Apache chief, with a look at the timeless strategies we can learn from his life.
SEXUAL PRACTICES AND RELATIONS BETWEEN THE SEXES
The sex lives of the Chiricahua, like all aspects of their existence, were dictated by long-standing customs and traditions. The Chiricahua were modest and undemonstrative when it came to sex, though obviously you have to account for individual differences. Sex two to three times a week was thought “normal” for married people—less when the men were hunting or raiding or warring. Adultery was a serious offense, though more so for the women than men—and there were repercussions on both sides. Relations between the sexes on this matter got very combative and violent, even fatal. If a woman cheated, the husband sometimes resorted to violence, even beating her or, in extreme cases, snipping the end of her nose off to mark her as an adulteress (the idea was to make her undesirable to other men). Wives who caught their husbands usually just scolded them, though some punished their husbands by stabbing them while they slept. It’s said that Cochise’s youngest wife, jealous of his first wife, bit him on both hands and left big teeth-mark scars. If they couldn’t work it out, the couple would divorce. The Apache word for divorce meant “they walk away from each other.” If the woman wanted the divorce she just put her husband’s things outside the wickiup. He’d grab his belongings and start looking for another wife. If the husband wanted out, he told his wife he was going hunting and never came back to her. Neither had to have a very good reason for divorce, though some causes were sterility or frigidity. If the woman was frigid or sterile, the husband would leave. If the man couldn’t get an erection, it was thought caused by witchcraft. If he couldn’t be “cured,” the woman would divorce him.
Polygamy made sense for the nomadic Apache for a number of reasons. First of all, one of the main points of marriage was to produce children, so the more wives one had, the more children he could produce. Also, in Apache culture, when a woman gave birth she refrained from sex until the child was weaned—at about four years old. Extra wives gave men an outlet for this inconvenience. Great warriors were the most powerful, had the most infl uence and economic power, and thus were given the right to take many wives—it was a badge of honor. Leadership and wealth gave a warrior the privilege to take multiple wives, but since leadership and status took many years and great trials to attain, only about 10 to 20 percent of the Chiricahua men were wealthy or powerful enough to earn the privilege. There was a defi nite pecking order among the wives, with the first wife having control of the whole household. Things went smoothly if the other wives respected her position of authority. They usually all ate together, and sometimes they all slept in the same dwelling, although sometimes a wife or two would have a separate dwelling. For purposes of sex and procreation, the man could divide his time between the women as he chose. Often the first wife had been married to her husband for many years and she would suggest his taking a second wife to help with household duties and even to provide sex for the husband if she was no longer interested or was unable to bear children.