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Taza, Son of Cochise

Taza, Son of Cochise(1954)

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In 1872, Chiricahua Apache chief Cochise and Gen. Howard sign a treaty, which brings a long sought peace to Arizona. The Chiricahua live quietly on a mountain reservation for three years, and as Cochise's death approaches, he bestows the leadership of his people on his son Taza. Cochise bids both Taza and his younger son Naiche to maintain the peace and defend the Chiricahua, but soon after the old chief's death, Naiche tries to kill Taza and angrily threatens to follow Geronimo in making war on the whites. Naiche wants to wed the beautiful Oona, a match that would please her warlike father Grey Eagle, but she is deeply in love with Taza, which further heightens the tension between the two brothers. Taza places a guard on Naiche, but Grey Eagle's renegades set him free. Naiche and his followers massacre a family of settlers, but Taza catches them and has them tied to posts and hanged in the sun. This Apache punishment is not sufficient for a Cavalry unit from nearby San Carlos Reservation, however. Capt. Burnett reminds Taza that under the terms of the treaty, the Chiricahua must go the San Carlos Reservation if any one of them attacks a white man. He then moves the prisoners to Fort Apache. Furious, Taza and his Chiricahua capture the fort. Speaking with Gen. Crook, Taza agrees to settle on San Carlos, but only if his people are given tools and seed, as well as the right to police themselves. Burnett's support of this idea earns him Taza's loyalty, and soon the Chiricahua leave their "beloved mountains" to settle on the new reservation. Taza, wearing a Cavalry uniform, heads a group of Apache reservation police, and before long, Geronimo and some forty of his hungry and weary people also come to San Carlos. Geronimo and Grey Eagle, however, are determined to escape, and Grey Eagle tells Taza that he may only have Oona in exchange for guns and ammunition. Taza refuses this demand, and when he presents the old man with jewelry and other riches instead, Grey Eagle announces that Naiche has offered him a better gift--money with which to buy weapons and bullets. Unwilling to betray his father's memory and his people, Taza gives up his beloved Oona. Soon afterward, word comes that Geronimo has broken out of the reservation. Taza wants the Apache police to capture Geronimo, but Gen. Crook readies his own troops to subdue the rebel and confines Taza to the reservation. After rejecting the uniform for his own Apache apparel, Taza defies this order. Geronimo arms his followers and, with several other bands of Apaches, awaits the arrival of Gen. Crook and Capt. Burnett. Disregarding Burnett's warning, Crook leads the troops into a narrow and dangerous mountain pass, where they are attacked by Geronimo's combined forces. During the fierce battle that ensues, Grey Eagle is killed. Taza decides to aid the Cavalry, whereupon he and Geronimo fight. Taza ultimately forces Geronimo and the rest of the Apaches to surrender, and when Naiche refuses to throw down his weapons, it is Geronimo who shoots him. Taza extracts from Crook both an apology and a promise to send Geronimo to a faraway reservation. With his Apaches now able to live in peace, Taza embraces his future wife, Oona.