May 06, 2011

Origin of Geronimo's Cadillac

Geronimo’s Cadillac—Er, LocomobileAn addendum of sorts to our life of Geronimo in pictures: The 1905 photo of Geronimo wearing a top hat and sitting in an automobile. The car has been identified as a Locomobile Model C, and here’s a good description of the circumstances from a letter to the editors of American History magazine (the letter is no longer available on; we found it reprinted on the personal website of Bill Bottorff):

The photograph of Geronimo driving a car on the last page of the April 2004 issue of American History was actually taken on June 11, 1905, at the Miller brothers’ 101 Ranch, located southwest of Ponca City, Okla. The car is a Locomobile, and the Indian in full headdress to Geronimo’s left is Edward Le Clair Sr., a Ponca Indian.
And:The photograph served as the inspiration for a noteworthy song by Michael Martin Murphey, the title track of his 1972 debut album, Geronimo’s Cadillac. He may have gotten the vehicle’s make wrong, but Murphey struck a chord (so to speak) in Indian country, and his song is often called an “unofficial anthem” of the American Indian Movement that flourished in the 1970s. Murphey himself became an advocate for Indian rights and was later adopted by the Dull Knife family of Lakota.Comment:  For more on the subject, see Advocates Criticize Codename at Hearing and Apaches Demand Apology for Codename.

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