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Oneida Nation statement on use of 'Geronimo' as codename

Ray Halbritter issued the following statement on behalf of the Oneida Nation of New York.

The Oneida Indian Nation joins all Americans in celebrating the bravery that led to finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. All of us continue to mourn for the lives lost on 9-11, and we remember with pride the way our country came together to support one another following that awful day. In the spirit of bringing about that type of unity once again, we must address the use of an American Indian icon's name, Geronimo, as the code name for Osama bin Laden. It is critically important that an historical figure like Geronimo, who for generations has served as an inspiration and hero to millions of American Indians and non-Indians alike, not be associated for all of history with one of the world's most heinous villains. It is also important to recognize that American Indians have fought and died in in every American conflict since the Revolutionary War, including the war in Afghanistan. It is an insult to their service and memory that an icon of their culture be used this way.

Finally, one of the lessons we learned from Osama bin Laden is that symbolism matters. The president must act quickly to prevent the name Geronimo from being used as a rallying cry and symbol by those who might pick up his cause and bring harm to America. We believe that it was not the intention of this Administration to offend an entire culture, and are therefore confident President Obama will act to address this terrible decision before it’s too late

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