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Onondagas unhappy with 'Geronimo' usage

Famed Indian warrior Geronimo, a Chiricahua Apache, is

Famed Indian warrior Geronimo, a Chiricahua Apache, is seen posing with a rifle in 1887. Photo Credit: National Archives

ONONDAGA NATION -- Add the Onondaga Nation near Syracuse to the list of American Indian tribes unhappy over the use of the name Geronimo in the U.S. commando mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

The Onondaga Council of Chiefs says Geronimo, who died in 1909, was arguably the most recognized Native American name in the world and a hero to American Indians. They say using it as the code name for the world's most famous terrorist leader perpetuates negative stereotypes about Indians.

The Navy SEALs who hunted down bin Laden at his Pakistani hideout relayed word to the White House that they had killed "Geronimo," confirming the death of the al-Qaida leader.

Fort Sill Apache Tribal chairman Jeff Houser, the leader of Geronimo's tribe, sent a letter to Obama asking for a formal apology for the government's use of the revered figure's moniker as a code name for bin Laden.

The White House referred questions on the matter to the Defense Department, which said no disrespect was meant to Native Americans.

The department wouldn't elaborate on the use of "Geronimo," but said code names typically are chosen randomly.

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