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This song about Indian rights became an unofficial anthem for the American Indian Movement.
Murphey was originally inspired to write this after seeing a photograph of Geronimo sitting in a Cadillac. He told American Songwriter magazine July/August 1987: "The two images together - Geronimo and a Cadillac - just struck me as a song title. It was every irony I could ever think of about our culture in two words. Their attempt to make of him what we would define as a civilized person. That was the reason they put him in a Cadillac in the first place. He was actually in jail at the time."
Geronimo (1827-1909) was an Apache Indian chief who led raids on US soldiers after his Chiricahua reservation was abolished in 1876. After years of bloodshed he was captured following a hard-fought campaign against General George Crook, but escaped. He later surrendered, on condition that his men returned to their homes in Florida. Instead they were imprisoned and later settled elsewhere. Later on Geronimo became a successful farmer and a member of the Dutch Reformed Church.
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