I read this opinion yesterday on Indianz.com.....
Depree Shadowwalker: Use of codename an insult to Apaches
Monday, May 9, 2011
Filed Under: Opinion
For the record, I am not a descendant of Geronimo, but my great grandmother, Gertrude, and great grandfather, Oswald Smith, who begat my grandfather Hopkins Smith, were all born prisoners of war after our great nation revoked a treaty between Geronimo and General Miles in 1886:
"The President (Ulysses S. Grant) of the United States has sent me to speak to you. He has heard of your trouble with the white men, and says that if you will agree to a few words of treaty we need have no more trouble. Geronimo, if you will agree to a few words of treaty all will be satisfactorily arranged."
The United States never kept General Miles negotiations with Geronimo and proceeded to imprison all Apaches who were related to the Chiricahua Apaches. This meant that any Apache through marriage, by birth or with extend family ties were gathered from all reservations and imprisoned.
Apaches had an oral tradition which kept them truthful so history would not be forgotten. Family connections and relationships are important to preserving the Apache life, so no one denied being a Chiricahua. Many walked beside their relatives as they were penalized for their affiliations to the last defenders of the Apache Homelands.
The very old and the young walked to nearest railroad to be shipped away in cattle cars. Apaches were people of great integrity and perseverance forged by their traditions, knowledge, connection to the land, and strong spiritual beliefs, so Geronimo kept his word: “We (General Miles) took an oath not to do any wrong to each other or to scheme against each other.” For Twenty-seven years, this oath fated the Apaches as Prisoners Of War by the War Department in forts located in Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Oklahoma once trust was broken in a negotiated treaty.
With this history in mind, is it reasonable to slander a man’s name, his word, his descendants, affiliations, and future generations by associating Geronimo’s legacy with a terrorist who attacked our Homelands and killed innocent people?
This code name furthers discrimination of Apaches by associating Geronimo with a terrorist. Geronimo was not a terrorist but a freedom fighter. Geronimo surrendered so future Apaches would be born and carry on the great legacy of our heritage.
I am a descendant of Apache fortitude and resilience, a veteran like my great grandfather Oswald Smith. I am offended by the ignorance of our government’s use of Geronimo’s good name with a man which he had nothing in common. We are Americans and we are not dead.
The Apache People have served our United States government since 1866; there are over 400 Apaches who are veterans buried in our cemetery in the Mescalero Apache reservation, not to mention over 565 federally recognized tribes whose unsung heroes/heroines served our country.
Apaches continue to serve in the Armed Forces and die for our freedom. My nieces, cousins, relatives, and affiliates are Americans; descendants of Chiricahua Apache POWs who currently, and in the past, serve our Armed Forces. These modern day American soldiers carry the Apache legacy forward, strengthening our troops. They cannot speak against our military’s uninformed use of Geronimo’s name, nor could any Government Issued (GI) soldier speak out against their command.
My family must ignore our official’s comments about their heritage, America’s heritage. In this day and age, it is time to lift the veil off America’s historical propaganda with American Indians. American Indians are born and raised in our country. We adapted and adopted the United States government as our own. We have served the United States long before we were granted citizenship in 1924 and the right to vote.
Geronimo was born, raised, imprisoned and died in America. It took a century for Geronimo to become an American ucon and for American Indian heritages to be esteemed by our country.
Why shoot it all down by associating Geronimo with a terrorist? Geronimo was not employing terror as a political act in a distant country. He was defending his family and affiliates from a hostile threat to his livelihood and homelands.
Geronimo farmed before colonization like early American settlers. The Chiricahua Apache troupe that surrendered with Geronimo eluded capture, because they knew the country like the back of their hand. They were home. They were not hiding in a mansion in a foreign county.
For the sake of perspective and accuracy, can our great government acknowledge that associating Geronimo as a codename fuels the ember for stereotyping and historical racism? I ask our President to set America’s record straight. The misleading association of Geronimo, an American icon, with Osama bin Laden, America’s enemy, is just plain wrong.
Depree Shadowwalker, a member of the Mescalero Apache Nation of New Mexico, is a PhD Candidate at the University of Arizona.