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Senate Hearing to Examine 'Inappropriate' Use of OBL Mission Codename 'Geronimo

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"...the impacts to Native and non-Native children are devastating."

A previously scheduled Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on racist Native American stereotypes will now include discussion on the use of a codename used during the bin Laden kill-or-capture mission: "Geronimo."

A committee aide told ABC News today that linking the name of the native American leader with the world’s most wanted man is “inappropriate” and can have a “devastating” impact on kids.

“The hearing was scheduled well before the Osama bin Laden operation became news, but the concerns over the linking of the name of Geronimo, one of the greatest Native American heroes, with the most hated enemies of the United States is an example of the kinds of issues we intended to address at Thursday's hearing,” Loretta Tuell, the committee's chief counsel, said in a statement.

“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,” Tuell added. “We intend to open the forum to talk about them.”

"A Native frame of reference is one that is inundated with appropriation and misrepresentation of who we were, and who we are today," Debbie Reese, a native American, writes on the Wall Street Journal website. "There are research studies that point to the negative effects of this sort of imagery on the self-esteem and self-efficacy of Native children. There are other studies that point to the high rates of suicide, and, to the high drop-out rates of our children."

She adds: "If your (non-Native) point of view is Geronimo as the courageous leader, then you probably think the use of his name honors him and links him to the courage of  the Navy SEALS who carried out the operation. ... If your point of view is Geronimo as the blood-thirsty savage, then you probably think that Geronimo was a terrorist."

Geronimo was an Apache leader around the turn of the century who was on of the last of his tribe to surrender to the U.S. He was widely feared during his time, during which he fought both U.S. and Mexican forces.

ABC says the codename was not actually given to bin Laden, but rather was used to represent the actual act of killing the terrorist.

What do you think?

Author's note: Is it ironic to anyone else that the actual committee discussing this is called the Senate Indian Affairs Committee?

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