Washington, May 4 : Native Americans are up in arms against the US military codenaming Osama bin Laden "Geronimo" after an Apache icon who for years fought the Mexican and US armies until his surrender in 1886.
After the Al Qaeda leader was killed in a US raid in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the military sent a message back to the White House: "Geronimo EKIA" - enemy killed in action.
But it was inappropriate to link Geronimo, "one of the greatest Native American heroes," with one of the most hated enemies of the United States, Loretta Tuell, staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said Tuesday.
"These inappropriate uses of Native American icons and cultures are prevalent throughout our society, and the impacts to Native and non-Native children are devastating," she said.
Tuell, a member of the Nez Perce Red Indian tribe who grew on the tribe's reservation in Idaho, said the use of Geronimo in the bin Laden raid will be discussed at a previously scheduled hearing Thursday on racial stereotypes of native people.
Weekly Indian Country Today has also criticised "a disrespectful use of a name revered by many Native Americans."
"Apparently, having an African-American president in the White House is not enough to overturn the more than 200-year American tradition of treating and thinking of Indians as enemies of the United States," columnist Steven Newcomb wrote.(IANS)