NMAI statement on military use of 'Geronimo' as codename

"As our mission statement directs, "The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere — past, present, and future…" The essential value of this commitment, and need for it, was confirmed this week when a defective historical analogy, absent of deliberation and veracity, was fashioned, expressed, and spread around the world.

One could hardly think of a more egregious insult than to be compared or likened to Osama Bin Laden. But this is what happened when the otherwise exacting military operation that brought Bin Laden to justice gave him, or the operation, the code name Geronimo. Like millions of people in this country and around the world, American Indians greeted news of the successful tactical strike with a great sense of pride, satisfaction, relief, and ongoing remorse for the thousands of innocent people who died due to Bin Laden's pervasive violence. So it came as a painful surprise and disappointment when, as details emerged of the chronology of the operation, that the first report of Bin Laden's death from the Navy SEAL Team Six was "Geronimo EKIA" (enemy killed in action).

Unfortunately, there exist latent perceptions of Geronimo within American folk culture that remain significantly divorced from reality. This particular issue demonstrates the void that exists and the harm that can be done when history is rendered incomplete."

Get the Story:
Statement from the National Museum of the American Indian on Geronimo (NMAI Blog 5/5)

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