Osama bin Laden’s U.S. militarily code name was Geronimo, who was a 19th-century Apache leader. The Washington Post reports:
In a triumphant moment for the United States, the moniker has left a sour taste among many Native Americans.
“I was celebrating that we had gotten this guy and feeling so much a part of America,” Tom Holm, a former Marine, a member of the Creek/Cherokee Nations and a retired professor of American Indian studies at the University of Arizona, said by phone Tuesday. “And then this ‘Geronimo EKIA’ thing comes up. I just said, ‘Why pick on us?’ Robert E. Lee killed more Americans than Geronimo ever did, and Hitler would seem to be evil personified, but the code name for bin Laden is Geronimo?”
Geronimo fought neighboring Mexicans and spent 10 years eluding U.S. troops as he revolted against white settlement in Apache territory. He is considered a hero by many Native Americans. So is it appropriate to equate this Native American figure with America’s number one enemy? Holm’s comments are even more poignant given the over-representation of Native Americans in the military; in 2007, they made up .73 percent of the U.S. population but 2.86 percent of the new recruits.