Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that on May 12, 2011 he spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing his criticism on the insensitive usage of the name "Geronimo" as a code name describing Osama bin Laden and the operation that ended in the terrorist’s death.
Geronimo, also known by his birth name "Goyaale," is revered as a Native American leader and hero. Born in 1829, he became a legend by fighting against the U.S. and Mexico for expanding into Apache tribal lands. Evading the capture of U.S. officials for years, he was finally tracked down and taken as a prisoner of war in 1886 and later died in 1909 as a prisoner at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Congressman Faleomavaega, in his statement before the House, emphasized the insensitivity in associating a Native American hero with a world terrorist who plotted and killed thousands of innocent people throughout the world.
“It is the year 2011, and it is time that Congress takes a stand against these types of actions which continue to disparage and insult Native Americans throughout our nation. This has been going on for years – from Indian mascots such as the Washington Redskins to using the term ‘Indian country’ to describe ‘enemy territory’ to using the name ‘Geronimo’ as a code name for a world terrorist. It is time to raise the level of consciousness in our nation on such issues that negatively affect indigenous peoples,” the Congressman stated.
The full text of Congressman Faleomavaega’s floor statement is copied below.
“Mr. Speaker, just last week, the U.S. military carried out a covert operation that ended in the killing of the most wanted terrorist on the planet, Osama bin Laden. The news of Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of our heroic Navy SEALs sent forth a wave of tremendous relief by the American people.”
“However, Mr. Speaker, we also learned that the U.S. military and the CIA used the code name ‘Geronimo’ for the operation to seize and kill Osama bin Laden. The first reports of the details of the raid stated that Osama bin Laden had been identified as ‘Geronimo’--enemy killed in action.”
“Mr. Speaker, I would strongly suggest to all my colleagues in the House that you should go and see the movie ‘Geronimo’ and see for yourselves if the Chiricahua Apache warrior Geronimo was a terrorist and murderer of thousands of innocent men, women, and children like Osama bin Laden. On the contrary, Geronimo was one of the greatest American Indian warriors who fought against some of the most vicious, cruelest, and inhumane treatment and policies instituted by our Federal Government against his people.”
“As a Nation--Mr. Speaker--I know we can do better than this. And with all due respect, I believe the President and CIA Director Panetta owe the Apache Nation an apology.”