Geronimo was a well-known and legendary Apache warrior whose skills to walk quietly without leaving footsteps behind allowed him to successfully evade thousands of US and Mexican soldiers. Very much like the way Osama Bin Laden has avoided capture for the past ten years.
For the Native Americans, however, there is a very huge and important difference between the two: Geronimo was their hero who saved his people; Bin Laden is a terrorist who has killed thousands.
That is why for the Native Americans, the White House’s use of “Geronimo” as a code name for their plan to bring down Osama was insulting and a slap in their faces. It has angered a lot of tribal leaders and caused a huge commotion in social networking sites. Moreover, the tribal leader of Geronimo’s tribe demanded for a letter of apology from US President Barack Obama.
On the other hand, many Native Americans are not surprised with the linkage created between Bin Laden and Geronimo; they were insulted, yes, but not surprised. They also said that the code name is just an additional to their long and ugly history with the federal government.
Leon Curly, a Navajo, said that they have been oppressed for such a long time that it does not matter anymore. Curly added that the government does what they want whenever it pleases them and he expects the name calling to last for a very long time.
Jeff Houser, chairman of Geronimo’s tribe, said in his letter addressed to the US President that they understand that the use of Geronimo as a code name for their operations to bring down Bin Laden was done without malice, but the effect was just the same. He further discussed that it pains them for Geronimo, or any other Native American Figure, to be associated with a mass murderer such as Osama.
There are a couple of steps that can be taken to address this issue and it is expected to be discussed on the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee meeting.