American Indians across the U.S. are voicing frustration with the codename used for the mission to capture and kill Osama bin Laden.
The radio call that came shortly after bin Laden's death was: Geronimo E.K.I.A., meaning: Geronimo, Enemy Killed In Action.
"Why did it have to be Geronimo? Why did that have to be referenced? There was no need for that. You just alienated Indian Country from sharing fully in this moment," says Derek Bailey, chair of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. He says the good news of bin Laden's death will always be tainted for him by a codename that links the Al-Qaeda leader with an 19th Century Apache warrior many in Indian Country today see as hero.
Bailey says he hopes this will force national discussion on the use of native stereotypes. Coincidentally, that issue will be taken up by a U.S. Senate committee Thursday
Geronimo was a native warrior who fought against the invasion of Apache tribal lands in the 1800s. He evaded U.S. authorities for years.
Matthew Fletcher, head of the Indigenous Law Center at MSU College of Law, says he wasn't surprised to hear the codename.
"The federal government, particularly the military and parts of the Department of Justice have been using Indian stereotypes for a long time to describe bad guys," he says.
The National Congress of American Indians released a statement today from its president, Jefferson Keel. It says: "To associate a Native warrior with bin Laden is not an accurate reflection of history and it undermines the military service of Native people..."
According to the group, 61 American Indian and Alaskan Native service members have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Close to 450 have been wounded.