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Osama bin Laden: code-named Geronimo

By       Message Ben Carnes     Permalink
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"We've IDed Geronimo," said a disembodied voice, using the agreed-upon code name for America's most wanted enemy, Osama bin Laden." ...   http://swampland.time.com/2011/05/02/inside-the-situation-room-weve-idd-geronimo/#ixzz1LEh1G9iZ

As a Native man, I was genuinely stunned to learn the US had selected the name of a hero who fought to defend his people and way of life.  We've been reduced to caricatures as mascots and entertainment in sports and media. Our Identity as Native people have been confiscated and labeled as "Native Americans' or "American Indians". Then to associate one of our icons of resistance is an insult. I can't even begin to imagine the horror felt by Geronimo's descendants or his people, the Chiricahua Apache. They were branded as Americans in 1924 before they were pardoned as prisoners of war, ironically.



I felt a more appropriate name would have been "Custer" or "Columbus", both murderers, but this doesn't fit with their version of history. And you would think Obama, the president who campaigned for Native votes would have been more sensitive to this point when he said,  "I'm on your side. I understand what it means to be an outsider. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House,..." http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2009/11/06/20091106summit1106.html#ixzz1LElNcIbf
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This society tends to marginalize the First Peoples of this land, so maybe this shouldn't be a surprise that the hero's of Native people are still regarded as terrorists by the military and they saw no problem in making the association to Geronimo. Some people may say that OBL's skill at evading capture was a tribute in memory of Geronimo! Let's do a reality check here, who would want to elevate OBL to a glorified level?

What I've seen since the use of this code-name was revealed is shock, disgust and outraged. Here's one of many posts on Facebook:   " Geronimo was NO TERRORIST, HE WAS HUNTED DOWN BY THIS COUNTRY'S OWN FIRST TERRORIST!!!!TRUTHS HURT!!THIS IS THE TRUTH, i AM A NATIVE WOMAN VET OF THIS COUNTRY, IM INSULTED!!!!!"

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If we want to have a look at terrorism, shouldn't we look at the history of the US? When the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, it was called the worst act of terrorism on US soil. I beg to differ, as Native people we suffer acts of terrorism at Sand Creek, Washita, Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears and Death, etc., place names that remains burned into our memories and sacred in our hearts, just as the site of the World Trade Center or the Oklahoma City National Memorial has for so many people who lost loved ones in recent memory.

I believe the President and the US military owes the Apache people an apology and a sincere one at that.


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Ben Carnes is a Choctaw activist and writer who received the 1987 Oklahoma Human Rights Award for making a stand against forced hair-cutting policies while incarcerated. After his parole in August 1988, he has been involved in organizing events and (more...)
 

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Osama bin Laden: code-named Geronimo