Thursday, May 5, 2011

Code Name "Geronimo": USAmerican Insult to Indigenous Injury

The recent killing of Usama (what happened to O-sama?!) bin Laden has raised many emotions and concerns around war, death, patriotism and faux-spirituality. As the media slowly reveal the many layers of cultural pathology, one particularly painful and troublesome issue came into the light of justifiable scrutiny. ABC news recently reported that the military operation that was launched to find and kill bin Laden was named after a prominent and important Native American, Geronimo, raising other, more grounded levels of critique, resistance and emotions around the continuing disrespect of Native American culture, history and tradition.

I took the opportunity to share this online report on my facebook page:

Some may think it a small thing, but it pisses me off, too. Why not codename McVeigh or Bernard Law or Washington, some real criminals?

From "The Note: Washington's Original and Most Influential Tipsheet"

Codename: 'Geronimo' for Osama Bin Laden Mission Angers Some Native Americans

"As the country rejoices over the killing of Osama Bin Laden, many Native Americans have different reactions: shock, dismay, hurt.

That’s because the Navy SEALs used “Geronimo” as the codename for mission to capture or kill Bin Laden.

“It’s another attempt to label Native Americans as terrorists,” said Paula Antoine from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota."

Educator and friend (facebook and otherwise) Melissa Kagle responded, "Indian country is pissed" and shared the following information:

"Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, on Behalf of the Haudenosaunee: This is a sad commentary on the attitude of leaders of the U.S. military forces that continue to personify the original peoples of North America as enemies and savages. The use of the name Geronimo as a code name for Osama Bin Laden is reprehensible. Think of the outcry if they had used any other ethnic group’s hero. Geronimo bravely and heroically defended his homeland and his people, eventually surrendering and living out the rest of his days peacefully, if in captivity, passing away at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1909. To compare him to Osama Bin Laden is illogical and insulting. The name Geronimo is arguably the most recognized Native American name in the world, and this comparison only serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes about our peoples. The U.S. military leadership should have known better. It all brings to mind the August 13, 2010 statement by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg advising then Governor Paterson to “get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun” to deal with Indian affairs. This kind of thinking indicates little progress in a mature social development of United States leadership."


Please check the above link for more salient indigenous perspectives.

We have good reason to be pissed.

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