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About this Product
The caption of this shirt reads, "Geronimo (right) and his band of Apache warriors, 1886. Photo by C.S. Fly. Used with permission of Sharlot Hall Museum. www.CarryaBigSticker.com." The other warriors pictured are, from left, Yanozha, Chappo, one of Geronimo's sons, and Yanozha's half brother, Fun.
This T-shirt is inspired by similar shirts that have become popular in recent years. The version we are selling differs from others in some important respects. For one thing, unlike many of the other shirts being sold, the image is not flipped horizontally. In our version, Geronimo is on the right, which is where he should be according to historians who have studied this photo. We have also opted for an oval design, which we feel adds to the old-timey feel of the photo. We have printed the design on an organic cotton T-shirt. Most other versions of this shirt do not use organic cotton.
There are some ironies about this T-shirt. First of all, the photo was of course not taken in 1492, the year that Chistopher Columbus discovered the New World. Photography was not even invented until almost 400 years later. Also, though the photo is being used to depict Native American resistance to invasion and domination, the photo was actually taken on March 25, 1886 during negotiations of what was to have been the surrender of Geronimo and his group of more than 100 men, women and children (known as the Chiricahuas) to General George Crook of the U.S. army. What's more, though this photo has become quite popular in the U.S., it was actually taken in what, at the time, was Mexico, at a place called Canon de los Embudos. about twenty miles south of the border. Today the place is about twenty miles north of the border, in far southeastern Arizona.
The negotiations for Geronimo's surrender broke down after President Grover Cleveland tried to change the terms of General Crook's relatively generous agreement with Geronimo, an agreement that would have allowed Geronimo to continue living in Arizona with the Chiricahuas. Cleveland insisted that Geronimo's surrender should be unconditional. Within hours of Cleveland's demand, Geronimo and 32 of his people fled into the wilderness. Those who were left behind were imprisoned for the next 28 years. Geronimo ultimately surrendered on Sept. 4, 1886, five months after this photo was taken. This marked the end of 350 years of armed hostilities between the U.S. and the Indians.
The photo shown on this T-shirt is just one of a series taken by photographer Camillus Sidney Fly during the negotiations between Geronimo and General Crook. Fly positioned men, women, children and horses much the way a wedding photographer positions people for best photographic effect. The details surrounding these photos are explored in a slim book titled "Geronimo's Surrender - The 1886 C.S. Fly Photographs" by Jay Van Orden. The book also includes the photos themselves.
Most of these photos are also available from the Library of Congress. The photo we have used on our T-shirt is actually from the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Ariz. The Sharlot Hall version of the Geronimo photo is interesting because the background vegetation has been retouched by some unknown artist of the distant past.
I was struck by how dark the skin of Geronimo and his people appears in these photos. This is much different from the lighter skin of Indians often seen in movies. Modern day Native Americans also tend to have lighter skin, probably because they spend much less time in the sun.
Here are some other interesting photos from the same series. Click links to see photos:
Dan R. Frazier