Geronimo: The Last Apache War Chief Critical Context - Essay

Edgar Wyatt

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Wyatt’s study of Geronimo was probably one of the earliest attempts to focus attention on Native American rights, especially with regard to land. Yet it was not until the next decade that the wrongful treatment of Native Americans began to be examined, recognized, and acknowledged publicly. Nevertheless, this book was an early part of the movement to focus attention on Native American history from the perspective of Native Americans themselves.

The earlier chapters of Geronimo are fictionalized, as they constitute a composite of Geronimo’s autobiographical data from that era, both for effect and because of text space and the audience. This portrayal of Apache life was obviously intended to gain the sympathy of young readers, as well as to educate them. Three autobiographies are cited in the bibliography, including Geronimo’s, as well as ten nonfiction books that were published during Geronimo’s lifetime or within twenty years of his death.

Wyatt’s biography was published twenty years after a time period in which many books had been written about Geronimo that expressed the keen public interest in the legendary Apache war chief. It is interesting that Wyatt uses the proper terminology for the different Apache peoples long before the era in which their names became generally known. This biography, written especially for young people, is important in juvenile literature because of its empathy with Native Americans.