Historical Characters

The following is an excerpt from Ghost Dance.

Goyahkla arrived from the southwest. Little was known of the Apache warrior. His legend here—the man who would come to be known as the worst Indian ever to have lived to white settlers—was still in its infancy. It was full-grown, however, in Mexico. Just a few years earlier his mother, his wife and children were slaughtered by Mexican soldiers. He had undertaken a very personal campaign of revenge. He attacked with such ferocity that his victims were heard crying out to Saint Jerome to spare their lives, “Jeronimo!” That plea so frequently associated with him, he became known as Geronimo.

He was a thick man, perhaps only 5 foot 7 inches tall. He looked other men in the eye, but he never smiled. His face appeared frozen in a menacing scowl. Accompanying him was a very small band of warriors, a rag-tag group that looked to have included boys in their teens. For much of the gathering he remained silent. He was quite a contrast from the other Apache warrior in attendance, the man the whites knew as Cochise.

Kuuchish was some twenty years older than Goyahkla but it wasn’t evident in his appearance. He stood closer to 6 foot tall and carried an absolutely chiseled frame. His raven black hair ran the length of his torso. He spoke often, and he spoke forcefully. He was very animated. Wild waving of his arms and terse facial expressions emphatically punctuated his phrases. He was furious with whites for their many lies—lies that had, in successive years, led to the hanging of his brother and the murder of his father-in-law, the respected Chief Mangas Coloradas.

He spoke in unadulterated vitriol. “When I was young I walked this country end to end. The Apache lived in peace. After many winters I walked again. I found a new people who speak many words but who speak out of both sides of their mouths. Their lies led to the death of many Apache. They have taken much from me. I will not sleep until I will make their losses greater than mine. I will bring the grave up to meet their lies! I will bring the sky down upon their heads!”