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Was Osama's code name offensive?

WASHINGTON – The top staffer for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is objecting to the U.S. military's use of the code name "Geronimo" for Osama bin Laden during the raid that killed the al-Qaida leader.

Geronimo was an Apache leader in the 19th century who spent many years fighting the Mexican and U.S. armies until his surrender in 1886.

Loretta Tuell, staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said Tuesday it was inappropriate to link Geronimo, whom she called "one of the greatest Native American heroes," with one of the most hated enemies of the United States.

"These inappropriate uses of Native American icons and cultures are prevalent throughout our society, and the impacts to Native and non-Native children are devastating," Tuell said.

Tuell is a member of the Nez Perce tribe and grew on the tribe's reservation in Idaho. The Senate Indian Affairs panel had previously scheduled a hearing for Thursday on racial stereotypes of native people. Tuell said the use of Geronimo in the bin Laden raid will be discussed.

Steven Newcomb, a columnist for the weekly newspaper Indian Country Today, criticized what he called a disrespectful use of a name revered by many Native Americans.

"Apparently, having an African-American president in the White House is not enough to overturn the more than 200-year American tradition of treating and thinking of Indians as enemies of the United States," Newcomb wrote.

After bin Laden was killed, the military sent a message back to the White House: "Geronimo EKIA" — enemy killed in action.

"It's another attempt to label Native Americans as terrorists," said Paula Antoine of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

A White House spokesman referred questions about the code name to the Pentagon. A Defense Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Jefferson Keel, president of National Congress of American Indians, the largest organization representing American Indians and Alaska Natives, said, "Osama bin Laden was a shared enemy."

Keel said that since 2001, 77 American Indians and Alaskan Natives have died defending the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 400 have been wounded.


Answer Question
 
sweet-a-kins

Asked by sweet-a-kins at 8:56 AM on May. 4, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 34 (67,502 Credits)
Answers (28)
  • Any one eve wonder why they decided on that name to begin with? Maybe there was good reason. Maybe the fact it was a NA hero never crossed anyone's mind. I just have a hard time believing this was an intentional jab at the NA community.
    But_Mommie

    Answer by But_Mommie at 8:59 AM on May. 4, 2011

  • As a Native American mutt(it's the strongest thing in my blood but mixed with my dads side). I honestly don't see any issue with it, they didn't pick the name based on his qualities, they picked it to throw someone on the other end of the radio off. I see no link to be offended by and have honestly never heard this as his nickname until now.
    zoejains_momma

    Answer by zoejains_momma at 9:02 AM on May. 4, 2011

  • There we go LINK Speculation is it has to do with both 'Geronimo' and OBL ability to evade US capture. 'Geronimo was not even his real name but a nick-name given to him by Mexican Soldiers.  Honestly I would have nver known this man exosted if it weren't for the hyper so I'm not sure bringing it out into the open was the best way to avoid the implications. IMO.  T

    But_Mommie

    Answer by But_Mommie at 9:05 AM on May. 4, 2011

  •  I just have a hard time believing this was an intentional jab at the NA community.


    I agree. I can see why some would be offended, I just don't THINK that was the intention.

    sweet-a-kins

    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 9:06 AM on May. 4, 2011

  • I don't know. When i first heard the code, only after it was an 'issue' I figures it had more to do with the fact it is a common 'cry' when doing something exhilarating. I had no idea there was a man who's name was deemed as such in NA history.
    But_Mommie

    Answer by But_Mommie at 9:08 AM on May. 4, 2011

  • I don't find it offensive. It's part of USA history, whether people like it or not. I also don't see it as a way to disrespect anyone. I think that people have become overly sensitive about PC issues.
    scout_mom

    Answer by scout_mom at 9:10 AM on May. 4, 2011

  • I don't see the connection between Geronimo & Bin Laden.

    going to brag for a second......i have picture of my great grandfather with Geronimo...they were friends....curious if it has any worth, not that I'd ever sell it.....just curious.
    samurai_chica

    Answer by samurai_chica at 9:11 AM on May. 4, 2011

  • Isn't geronimo what you say when you jump out of a plane? Didn't these guys land on the roof by jumping out of a helicopter? That is the only link I see. I bet if you stop 20 people on the streets of New York and ask them what geronimo means they wouldn't even remember the Native American Indian. I bet at least 18 of them would say it means Look Out here I go jumping off of something. In golf we say For/Four/Fore. In jumping we say geronimo. *Shrugs* Sorry we aren't up on what Native American Indians find sacred or insulting. I guess there should be a new department of political correctness to double check these things in advance.
    LoveMyDog

    Answer by LoveMyDog at 9:13 AM on May. 4, 2011

  • Who cares..I don't see the big deal.I have Indian in me and I could careless about this.
    tnmomofive

    Answer by tnmomofive at 9:19 AM on May. 4, 2011

  • going to brag for a second......i have picture of my great grandfather with Geronimo...they were friends....curious if it has any worth, not that I'd ever sell it.....just curious.


    That's awesome!

    sweet-a-kins

    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 9:20 AM on May. 4, 2011

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