Is Osama Bin Laden the New Geronimo?

May 5, 2011  |  

By Charlotte Young

Geronimo was an Apache warrior who fought against the U.S. and Mexican forces for his tribal lands. Osama Bin Laden was the al Qaeda leader who is believed to have masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks against the U.S., and was earlier this week, shot in the head at his compound in Pakistan by U.S. forces.

What do the two have in common? Good question.

According to Reuters, U.S. forces used the codename “Geronimo” to confirm the death of Bin Laden, which has angered some Native Americans. Although the Pentagon has not confirmed that “Geronimo” was the codeword for the Bin Laden operation, Native Americans are demanding an apology from the Obama administration.

“To equate Geronimo or any other Native American figure with Osama bin Laden, a mass murderer and cowardly terrorist, is painful and offensive to our Tribe and to all native Americans,” wrote Jeff Houser, chairman of the Fort Still Apache Tribe, in a letter to the President Obama.

The Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs in New York called the code name “reprehensible” and the comparison “illogical and insulting.”

This isn’t the first time the U.S. has insulted the population and misused Native American symbols and names. The most apparent problem has been with the naming of sports teams, such as the Washington Redskins.

Geronimo became a “motivational catchcry” in 1940 after a U.S. Army paratrooper yelled “Geronimo” as he jumped from a plane. He had been inspired after recently watching the 1939 movie about the Apache hero.

But the comparison of the famous Native American war leader to Bin Laden may have taken the misuse too far.

“Unlike the coward Osama bin Laden, Geronimo faced his enemy in numerous battles and engagements,” Houser wrote.”What this action has done is forever link the name and memory of Geronimo to one of the most despicable enemies this country has ever had.”

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