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Apache Tribe asks Obama to apologize for linking Geronimo's name to Bin Laden

Geronimo The Fort Sill Apache Tribe in Oklahoma is asking President Obama for a formal apology for using the code name "Geronimo" in reference to Osama Bin Laden during the successful operation that eventually killed the notorious terrorist.

"We are grateful that the United States was successful in its mission against Bin Laden, but associating Geronimo's name with an international terrorist only perpetuates old stereotypes about Apaches," Jeff Houser, chairman of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, the successor to Geronimo’s Chiricahua Apache Tribe, wrote in a statement faxed Tuesday to the White House.

"Geronimo" was the code name for the mission where 24 Navy SEALs raided Bin Laden's three-story million-dollar compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan; "Geronimo" was also the code the SEALs used to alert their commanders that they identified their target; and finally "Geronimo-E KIA" was the coded message to confirm that they had killed Bin Laden.

The letter E stood for "enemy" while the letters KIA meant "killed in action."

The Apaches are upset that after all this time, Americans are still equating Native Americans with savages and enemies.

"In the 1800s Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apache people were portrayed as savages," Houser wrote. "This portrayal was used as justification for the forced removal from their homelands and their subsequent imprisonment. Linking Geronimo’s name to an infamous terrorist only reinforces this false and defamatory stereotype," Houser said in the statement asking Obama to "right this wrong."

Born in what would later become New Mexico in 1829, Geronimo spent many years successfully fighting Mexican and U.S. armies until 1886 when he and 35 warriors surrendered to Gen. Nelson Miles near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

Geronimo was sent to an Army outpost at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, where he eventually died of pneumonia in 1909. The Fort Sill Apache Tribe are descendants of the native Americans who lived in southern New Mexico and Arizona until they were held as prisoners of war for 28 years in Oklahoma "and maintained their status as independent Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apaches until the tribe was restored years later as the Fort Sill Apache Tribe," according to the tribe's website.


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Geronimo: A century after his death, mysteriously tied to Bin Laden, the CIA and Skull and Bones

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: Geronimo while he was a U. S. prisoner, poses outdoors near a group of tents in Oklahoma. Credit: W. H. Martin

Comments () | Archives (61)

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To Fingerpointing:

Thats because thanks to our educational system children aren't taought the negative side of American History. We only want the kids to know how Bold abd Brave our country was in fighting for freedom, to escape oppression, nevermind the fact that they became the very demons that they were outrunning and oppressed, murdered, and raided other human beings who were ALREADY HERE.

No, they dont wish for their children to know the truth about their nations history. Just that "what they did was right" No one can invade the United States, but its perfectly alright for us to go in and bomb another country where there are other human being civilians. Giving infected blankes to the Natives who were on reservations was "ther right thing to do".

There has not yet been the destruction of discrimination and racisism, only tollerance. 'I dont accept you and your way of life, but I will tollerate you because it makes me look good in fromt of others."

Get a life

im 1/4 Cherokee and make no clams on the gov Geronimo was a name given to him by the mexs. as i remember not his actual name. Geronimo is well respected in history Its a honor the team used his name

Petition to: President Obama

U.S. Senate & House Of Representatives

The American Indian community demands an apology from President Obama to include U.S. Senate and House Of Representatives for allowing the code name "Geronimo" represent international terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Somebody messed up - it is not admirable to steal/ kill/disrespect/lie/ perpetrate ecocide on Native peoples/Earth/Water/Wildlife ! Much more than an apology is needed.

I can understand that this would be upsetting. We nonnative's are a arrogant lot. (Though I do have the tiniest dot of Native American blood) I don't really think that they really realize that in some ways it is disrespectful to do such a thing. If they won't, please accept my apology for what was a insensitive decision.

The white man is so stupid, they have no understanding what it is to be an native american, the first american's, natives have the utmost under standing and respect for each others family , culture and belief's and what all of our relatives
endured, from the start of the white man"s selfish greed . custer and hilter was the worse terroist in history, so the code name should have been custer the child, women rapist and killer that he was and he got what he deserved in the end!!!also.
But the white man can't see it for all all the drugs and alcohol they have clouding their mind's .


lets keep blaming each other red on white-- white on red its VERY positive isnt it
It was an honor that Geronimo was given guess you cant see this but it IS a HONOR none of you red or white were here 200 yrs ago were all Americans now Get a life Is like the black man that blames some one else for his position in life because there was slavery here in our past there are poor blacks and the president is black so what makes the differences maybe attitude

The Geronimo yell was conceived by Pvt. Eberhardt and immediately embraced by the platoon in the 3rd week of August, 1940. Major William Miley, the 501st commander, gave the Geronimo tradition an important endorsement by choosing "" as the motto on the 501st PIB unit insignia, a device worn on the dress uniform of every soldier in the unit. Maj. Miley even had sergeant major locate relatives of the real chief Geronimo to ask their permission for use of the chief's name in the unit insignia. He located them with the help of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and they granted permission with pride.Of the dozens of Airborne regiments and battalions that formed during WWII, two incorporated Geronimo into their pocket patches. Pocket patches were worn on the right chest pocket. When the 501st PIB was redesignated as the 501st PIR in 194...2, it adopted a pocket patch with an Apache chief holding a bolt of lightning over the word, "Geronimo". Also, the 509th PIR used the word, "Geronimo" on its pocket patch. A few years into the war, the Paramount B western origin of the Geronimo yell was probably all but forgotten, but the "Geronimo" yells and the Indian theme still loomed large over the US Army Airborne. This was seen in the 101st Airborne Division soldiers with war paint and Mohawk haircuts on the eve of the D-Day invasion, and still heard as paratroopers exited C-47 planes over Fort Benning, Fort Bragg and staging areas in England. Geronimo would also be sung, when Lieutenant Colonel Byron Paige of the 11th Airborne Division wrote one of the classic WWII paratrooper songs, Down From Heaven to celebrate the relationship of paratroopers to the Geronimo cry. (The number eleven comes from the number of paratroopers in a plane.)

The association of Geronimo with the assassination of a terrorist is an insult to American Indians. Just imagine the public reaction if the code words, “Gandhi or Lincoln E KIA,” had been used.

The Privilege of the Privileged is not having to recognize their Privilege.

I think you all think too much.. get a life lol

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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