Lise Balk King: The Indian Wars still alive and well in the US

"There is a saying out West that “The Indian Wars are alive and well.” Historic conflicts have moved from grassy slopes and crested buttes to cafes and courtrooms, schools and voting booths. And now, thanks to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, they are being played out in news reports all over the world.

“Geronimo” had been killed, said the Navy SEAL’s voice in reporting that the hunt for bin Laden was finally over. And thus the iconic memory of a Native American warrior was forever connected to the image and fate of Public Enemy Number One.

It is true that Geronimo was considered an enemy of the United States back in 1886, when he was finally captured after more than ten years of resistance to the encroachment of settlers on Apache territory. But to label him or associate him with terrorism is yet another indignity to Native America, as well as an issue for parents of Indian children.

I had the conversation yesterday with my ten-year old son, who asked, “Mom, why would they give Osama the name Geronimo?” He didn’t hear the pundits debating whether it was, in fact a real issue, or parsing out the details of what exactly the SEALs were referring to, the man or the mission. The impression had already been made. My daughter, who is now seventeen and spent much of her childhood on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations, sighed and rolled her eyes, and said she is resigned to the fact that “people just don’t understand.”"

Get the Story:
Lise Balk King: Geronimo and the Werewolves Vs. Osama bin Laden (The Wall Street Journal 5/4)

Related Stories:
Native Sun News: Veterans upset by 'Geronimo' codename (5/4)
Fort Sill Apache Tribe to President Obama about 'Geronimo' (5/4)
Seminole Tribe letter to President Obama about 'Geronimo' (5/4)
Navajo president's statement on 'Geronimo' as codename (5/4)
SCIA to address use of 'Geronimo' as codename at hearing (5/4)
NCAI statement on use of 'Geronimo' for Osama codename (5/4)
Steven Newcomb: US still treats Indian people like terrorists (5/4)
Lise Balk King: US drops bomb with 'Geronimo' as codename (5/4)
Military use of 'Geronimo' codename was apparently recent (5/4)
Onondaga Nation leaders criticize military use of 'Geronimo' (5/4)
Fort Sill historian doesn't think 'Geronimo' use is a big deal (5/4)
Opinion: Geronimo back in the news with Osama bin Laden (5/4)
Opinion: US slanders Geronimo's name with Osama mission (5/3)
Rep. Pearce: White House crowd celebrates Osama's death (5/2)

Join the Conversation