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A Victory for All?

I’ve got to say it’s a little ironic writing this post. In my last blog, I was alluding to how future U.S- American Indian relations would be in the near future after the USDA rewarded $760 million dollars to improve farm loan services to American Indians. I said they were turning a page over a certain spot in the history of these relations. Obama stated, ““This is yet another important step forward in addressing an unfortunate chapter in USDA’s civil rights history.” However, once this page turned over on the USDA’s civil rights history, a new issue has to be addressed.

President Obama announcing Bin Laden’s death.

We all know by now that Navy seals were able to discover Osama Bin Laden’s compound and kill him. What was not announced until recently was that the code name used to refer to Bin Laden was Geronimo, the legendary Apache leader and one of the most well-known and American Indians in history.  Could the military really have not chosen any other name for Bin Laden, the number one enemy to the United States in most citizens’ minds? To the Apache’s, Geronimo “embodied the Apache values of  aggressiveness and courage in the face of difficulty.” Bin Laden has been the face of terror for the last 10 years, not courage. As Lise King states, “it is being interpreted as a slap in the face of Native people.” This is with good reason; when marines say they’ve identified Geronimo and people wait to see if “Geronimo” is dead, it is as though we are holding this symbol of evil over this Apache legend’s head.

I just cannot get over how bizarre this whole situation is. This sounds like a broken record, but seriously, why use this particular person’s name? The last twenty-five years have brought about a lot of uproar over mascots representing hostile portrayals of Indians. The American public was obviously going to receive the nitty-gritty details of the raid because Americans need to stick their nose into everything. With this in mind, it looks very bad on the presidential administration and military for sticking with this moniker for Bin Laden. This situation is probably more relavent to American Indian studies than anything else I’ve blogged about. How Congress and President Obama perform damage control on this situation could really make or break relations with the Indigenous people of the United States.

As a side note, I just want to address the other thing that is bothering me about this situation, and I’m referring to killing Bin Laden and then the celebrations that have ensued. Here, at the University of Illinois, there was a bar crawl celebrating his death. At the Mets-Phillies baseball game the day it occurred, there were patriotic chants of USA-USA reverberating throughout the stadium. I’m all for patriotism and being enthusiastic that the face of terror is no longer around to frighten everyone. What I don’t understand is the celebration for the death of a human. Yes, he was evil and committed atrocious acts, but I do not think that celebrating a person being killed is worth parties and bar crawls. If I remember correctly, when 9/11 occurred, there was raucous celebrating in the streets in Pakistan and other countries. I personally think we are displaying the wrong message. We should be happy that we can all feel a little safer, but zealously celebrating a person’s death just does not seem appropriate.

Courtesy of Indian Country Today @



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