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Geronimo's Cadillac

by

Michael Martin Murphey



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

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.
Michael Martin Murphey
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Comments (3):

I think that Hoyt Axton wrote the song, tho of course Murphey's first album was titled and features the song. If you google the title you will find a 1905 foto of Geronimo in a Locomobile, taken at some kind of media event at a ranch while Geronimo was an unwilling guest of the US gov'mint. They also staged fotos of him skinning a buffalo he had supposedly killed, tho he never hunted them, they didn't exist in the area he lived in. Fine song. Hoyt was a great writer and performer, rest in peace.
- Mark, San Pedro, CA
Per Wikipedia, Cadillac was founded in 1902 and Geronimo died in 1909, so yes, it was definitely possible.
- Dougee, San Bernardino, CA
I wasn't aware that the Cadillac brand was around during Geronimo's lifetime--or was it an "edited" picture of the Indian chief sitting in a modern-day Cadillac that was the song's inspiration.
- ted, phoenix, AZ
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