Levi Rickert: Geronimo Was No Osama

Roundup: Media's Take

Levi Rickert is the editor-in-chief and co-producer of the Native News Network. Mr. Rickert is a tribal member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and is the former executive director of the North American Indian Center of Grand Rapids.


... After President Obama spoke, the television cameras turned to the jubilant crowds outside to the north side of the White House. Here was a crowd of hundreds chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A”, all proud to be Americans.

For a moment we were all Americans. We were not separated by partisan politics. We were not separated by race or ethnicity. We were all Americans.

Then Monday we were informed the code name for the operation was Operation Geronimo and the code term used by the Navy Seals to inform the National Security Council, including President Obama, that Osama bin Laden was indeed dead was Geronimo EKIA (EKIA = Enemy Killed in Action).

At first I thought the name Geronimo was invoked the way it is used for kids jumping out of trees or those parachuting out of planes yell “Geronimo!”

That is where the comparison between Geronimo and Osama bin Laden should have ended. Geronimo was no Osama.

Unfortunately, upon further examination I discovered the name was used because Geronimo was the one American Indian warrior who evaded the United States the most. He was hard to capture.

To American Indians, Geronimo was an Apache warrior. Geronimo represents one of the most valiant American Indian warriors in history and remains a heroic figure.

It should be noted, Geronimo never attacked the United States as Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda did. Just as our brave men and women soldiers of today’s United States military forces serve to protect American soil, so did Geronimo. He fought the United States government as it was taking Apache land.

There is a major difference between plotting a plan to attack on foreign soil, as Osama did on 9/11 and defending tribal land, as Geronimo did.

The usage of American Indians names or caricatures has always been part of US history. Beginning at the Boston Tea Party with a bunch of non-Indians camouflaging as Indians, dumped tea into the Boston Harbor.

Americans fascination with Indian names is a rip-off of a people that have constantly fought for their very existence in American society, from sports mascots to names of products, such as the Apache helicopter.

The usage of Geronimo’s name by the US government was inappropriate when it comes to the operation to apprehend or kill Osama bin Laden. It was inappropriate because even today, on a percentage basis, American Indian women and men serve in the US armed forces at a higher rate than do non-Indians.

The usage of Geronimo’s name was very inappropriate because Geronimo was no Osama.

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