To free the land, you must first free your mind...

This is a conceptual platform for the expression of ideas and issues initiating discussion and action. The communiqué's are my perceptions, opinions and vision about contemporary issues/causes, people I admire & respect, and my goals for the future. My main focus is on the Chahta People by sharing our past to plan for the future today!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden: code-named Geronimo

“We’ve IDed Geronimo,” said a disembodied voice, using the agreed-upon code name for America’s most wanted enemy, Osama bin Laden."...

As a Native man, I was genuinely stunned to learn the US had selected the name of a hero who fought to defend his people and way of life.  We've been reduced to caricatures as mascots and entertainment in sports and media. Our Identity as Native people has been confiscated and labeled as "Native Americans' or "American Indians". Then to associate one of our icons of resistance is an insult. I can't even begin to imagine the horror felt by Geronimo's descendants or his people, the Chiricahua Apache. They were branded as Americans in 1924 before they were pardoned as prisoners of war, ironically.

I felt a more appropriate name would have been "Custer" or "Columbus", both murderers, but this doesn't fit with their version of history. And you would think Obama, the president who campaigned for Native votes would have been more sensitive to this point when he said, "I'm on your side. I understand what it means to be an outsider. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House,..."

This society tends to marginalize the First Peoples of this land, so maybe this shouldn't be a surprise that the hero's of Native people are still regarded as terrorists by the military and they saw no problem in making the association to Geronimo. Some people may say that OBL's skill at evading capture was a tribute in memory of Geronimo! Let's do a reality check here, who would want to elevate OBL to a glorified level?

What I've seen since the use of this code-name was revealed is shock, disgust and outraged. Here's one of many posts on Facebook: "Geronimo was NO TERRORIST, HE WAS HUNTED DOWN BY THIS COUNTRY'S OWN FIRST TERRORIST!!!!TRUTHS HURT!!THIS IS THE TRUTH, i AM A NATIVE WOMAN VET OF THIS COUNTRY, IM INSULTED!!!!!"

If we want to have a look at terrorism, shouldn't we look at the history of the US? When the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, it was called the worst act of terrorism on US soil. I beg to differ, as Native people we suffered acts of terrorism at Sand Creek, Washita, Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears and Death, etc., place-names that remains burned into our memories and sacred in our hearts, just as the site of the World Trade Center or the Oklahoma City National Memorial has been for so many people who lost loved ones in recent memory.

I believe the President and the US military owes the Apache people an apology and a sincere one at that.


  1. Well written... thank you, I know we can count on you to put strong respectful words out to guide us on the path we must stay on...
    I too agree with your statement "I believe the President and the US military owes the Apache people an apology and a sincere one at that."

  2. Thank you Candace. I hope that we will see something sincere come from the WH!

  3. Thank you and I pray that the Creator will bless your strong words so that they will reach all hearts.

  4. Great job Ben. This is stunning and wrong in many ways. Apologies are in order.

  5. Thank you for that information. I dont even know how to work that though.

  6. Post and comic are great. I am Chiricahua Apache, Yokut and Yavapai. As much as I love this country and to stumble on an article like this is an outrage. I see no similarities between Osama and Geronimo. I was surprised to hear it come from the Obama admiministration... Thanks

  7. Way too often we are regarded in the past tense and that somehow we have metamorphosed into an entirely different being. Through the processes of the boarding schools and reservations we have been. However, there are those of us who remember the true history of the relationship we have had with this government. It has been one of dishonor and deceit.
    When they have an opportunity to right these wrongs, they seek to avoid it and have us accept the losses. When we chose to assume our traditional identities best as we can, we cannot be who they want us to be. We've endured generations of historical trauma, and our only cure for ourselves is to know the truth and conduct ourselves accordingly.

  8. This is an unconscionable deed and a slap in our faces. My heart is heavy. We as Native Peoples..full blood and some not so full really need to Unite with one common goal to push on,Pray for a huge healing and take no violent action, thought or words against these stoops. I am beginning to believe that ignorance is a genetic deformity. These souls are so sick and poisoned with hate that they continually try to bait us into another Indian War and that is a problem, not a solution. Wado for your time

  9. Geronimo faced his enemy (European terrorists)...again and again he faced them, dodging bullets not hiding from them. Obama, I mean Osama threw a sucker punch and ran like a cowardly dog with a yellow streak down his back.

  10. The roots of this are in the books are asked to read. Fiction and nonfiction... I write about the development and force-feeding of "savage other" at my site. I blogged the code name BS yesterday and included an illustration from a much-loved bogus work of fiction that shows us as sub-human killers. Here's the link:

  11. I am a white person, my family came here in the 1900s from Italy. I too agree that it was incredibly disrespectful to code name that piece of trash with such a warrior as Geronimo. Geronimo fought the invaders of his homeland. OBL sought to kill anyone who didn't embrace his insane ideas. I have no standing other than being an American, but I apologize for the stupidity and thoughtlessness of the people who disrespected the name of Geronimo and the Apache people.

  12. Thanks for this great blog. I just posted it on the Zinn Education Project ( facebook page ( where it is already getting likes and comments.

  13. Thanks everyone for your comments and support by reposting this blog. I am working on another one in relation to this issue in a broader sense. I hope that you will find it thought provoking!

  14. I'm sorry that a bad choice of names was used as Bin Laden's codename. I doubt that Obama had much if anything to do with that; security outfits have codenames for HIM too and he does not choose them either.
    I could stand to read up more on Geronimo and the various Apache bands; very likely there are Californians (legal and otherwise) who are Apache blood since the tribe was large enough to inhabit areas from the Great Plains all the way down into what is now Mexico. They were, in their time a great Nation. And native tribes remain to be a great people who offer wisdom and respect for the environment. It has been said that they are the spirit keepers of this place now called "America" and I really would like the descendants of the European and African settlers to recognize that. Fortunately native tribes' political power is beginning to return and that somewhat represents a reversal of a long dry spell that was bound to change eventually.

  15. Unfortunately still today our symbols used by Holywood , military ,goverments,mass medias..Our historical leaders,sacred symbols violated.We must bring Native issues, peoples and culture to the medias in a way that will allows them to educate, understand Native ways.

  16. As a caucasian-American, a grandchild of German immigrants - I am ashamed. This is such an insult and you are owed AT LEAST an apology.

  17. As a white woman of European descent, I am so sorry Columbus didn't get lost at sea and eaten by sharks. I hate everything that was done here. It's excruciating to ponder. I wish there were something I could do. All I can do is my utmost to live as close to the Earth as I possibly can and live as peacefully as I can, and hope our society collapses so we can start - somewhat - anew and save what is left of our planet.

  18. I would like to share a story with you. A few years ago I was at Wounded Knee together with Natives from different tribes, and while I was standing there listening to their story I could at thesame time hear another story being told. It was a schoolclass with about 20 students, about 10 years old. I was horrified of the version they were being told by their teachers.."this is where the wild indians terrorized and murdered in cold blood our soldiers. they were savages and had not respect for life, our soldiers had to dig holes in the ground with their bare hands in order to try to save themselves".
    With this experience in mind, which I will never forget (and often pass on), I am not surprised that Bin Laden's codename was Geronimo. Because, they don't know who he really was, what he fought for, his bravery and what he symbolize today - because they have heard another version of the story.

    I am not trying to defend, just understand. I agree and really hope that you will get the excuse that you deserve, this is a true example that show the lack of respect and understanding.

  19. Geronimo still has direct living descendants. I hope they will sue for a great deal of money. I am saying this with all respect. We tried to respect the Muslim ways in these recent actions. Somewhat missed on our own people.

    As a girl I grew up in the Soviet occupied Poland and know the price of freedom. In that world, in an all girls school, I imagined I was ... an Apache, smart, brave and strong. I remained "a fighter" forever. I happened later to immigrate to the wild west, and the love for all Native People of both Americas has only grown deeper, and more educated. With that self-education in recent years came that one moment, one moment in which I comprehended the loss that happened in the Americas, that was done to its people. Now I ma on the other side of knowing.

    I also was shocked when I heard the code name - for an action that I sadly approve. I somewhat hope, rationalize, that "Geronimo" was rather related to the Seals and their bravery in that particular action. Not to the E. = "enemy". There is a history of the usage of "Geronimo" in the military that is not at all related to Bin Laden (lost a link) - in a performance of a chain of very dangerous parachuting maneuver. I also am aware of the great percentage of Native Americans in the American forces. Would hope it was one of those parachutists that came up with that call "Geronimo!" prior to the jump. As you see I must rationalize and make it better - as otherwise it is impossible to live with.

  20. FireIsBorn2 Hanna
    #mustsee: American Experience We Shall Remain: Geronimo, Pt. 4 of 5
    #Bin Laden code indigenous INDN

  21. If Geronimo and Osama bin Laden were contemporaries, living today, would they be facebook friends?

    Through natural, Indigenous eyes of relations, friends and allies, Geronimo is seen as a leader of the resistance, a freedom fighter, a protector of the people and the land.

    Through the eyes of the USAnglo colonizers, Geronimo was "the worse Indian who ever lived" as he was labeled at the time, or in today's propagandistic parlance "a terrorist".

    Through natural, Indigenous eyes of relations, friends and allies, Osama bin Laden is seen as a leader of the resistance, a freedom fighter, a protector of the people and the land.

    Through the eyes of the USAnglo colonizers, Osama was labeled "the evil one" among many more pejorative terms, or in today's propagandistic parlance "a terrorist".

    From what perspective do you view Osama?

    Do you see him as a freedom fighter, resisting the colonial invasion into the Middle Eastern regions by the USAnglo Empire?

    Or do you accept the labeling of him as a "terrorist"?

    Who was he 'terrifying' if not the same USAnglos that Geronimo faced?

    Geronimo and Osama bin Laden had the same common enemy. I think it likely them would have recognized each other as an ally in the fight against tyranny, colonization and exploitation and, were they to disregard the gross breach of security, I think they would have befriended each other on Facebook.

    Is it really such a bad thing to scare, to terrify a predatory beast, prowling the world for plunder and prey, threatening and attacking your people?

    Terrifying one's enemy is a time-honored defensive tactic. When they tried to invade, the Vikings were beheaded and their heads put on posts along the shore as a warning to others that would contemplate the same violation.

    The 'uppity', “insolent” Indian Acuera likewise knew what kind of enemy the Europeans were:

    "I have long since learned who you [European Christians] are, through others of you who came years ago to my land; and I already know very well what your customs and behavior are like.

    To me you are professional vagabonds who wander from place to place, gaining your livelihood by robbing, sacking and murdering people who have given you no offense.

    I want no manner of friendship or peace with people such as you, but instead prefer mortal and perpetual enmity. *** I therefore notify and advise you to protect yourselves and act cautiously with me and my people, for I have commanded my vassals to bring me two Christian heads weekly, this number and no more. I shall be content to behead only two of you each week since I thus can slay all of you within a few years; for even though you may colonize and settle, you cannot perpetuate yourselves because you have not brought women to produce children and pass your generation forward."

    In reply to what was said about his rendering obedience to the King of Spain, Acuera continued: "I am king in my land, and it is unnecessary for me to become the subject of a person who has no more vassals than I.

    I regard those men as vile and contemptible who subject themselves to the yoke of someone else when they can live as free men.

    Accordingly, I and all of my people have vowed to die a hundred deaths to maintain the freedom of our land. This is our answer, both for the present and forevermore."

    Furthermore, I do not wish to know what your sovereign demands, for I am well aware of what has to be done in this land, and of what manner I am to use in dealing with you. Therefore, all of you should go away as quickly as you can if you do not want to perish at my hands."

    Acuera, Geronimo and yes, Osama bin Laden seem to be cut from the same cloth, warriors willing to die to protect their people and their homelands against domination, in this case by the same predator.

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