I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.

Goyathlay, “one who yawns,” was born June 16, 1829 to Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache nation in New Mexico.

In March 1858, Mexican military attacked and killed his wife, children and mother. The grief and rage made Goyathlay embark on a war of revenge against Mexico and, eventually, the United States.

He was given the nickname Geronimo by the Mexicans and became one of the greatest warriors among the indigenous people of North America.

Though often referred to as a chief, he was not. He was a warrior, and a magical one at that. Reports from the time indicate he could “walk without leaving tracks; the abilities now known as telekinesis and telepathy; and the ability to survive gunshot (rifle/musket, pistol, and shotgun). Geronimo was wounded numerous times by both bullets and buckshot, but survived. Apache men chose to follow him of their own free will, and offered first-hand eye-witness testimony regarding his many powers.” (Wikipedia)

Geronimo evaded Mexican and U.S. troops for many years, making war on what he considered the invaders to his homeland, and was considered “the worst Indian who ever lived” by settlers to the West. But he eventually surrendered on Sept. 4, 1886 to Gen. Nelson A. Miles at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona. He lived out his days as a prisoner of war at Fort Sill, Oklahoma until his death in 1909.

He told his nephew, just before dying, he regretted the surrender.

The United States hounded, pursued and finally exhausted Geronimo and made him a prisoner for the rest of his life, burying him on the grounds of Ft. Sill far, far from his homelands.

But most recently, the great warrior’s name has been further sullied by applying it as the “code name” for Osama bin Laden during the raid which ended the terrorist’s life when killed by Navy SEALs.

“Think of the outcry if they had used any other ethnic group’s hero,” the Onondaga Council of Chiefs said in a release Tuesday. “Geronimo bravely and heroically defended his homeland and his people, eventually surrendering and living out the rest of his days peacefully, if in captivity.”

“It’s typical,” said Onondaga Tadodaho Sid Hill, the nation’s spiritual leader. He said Geronimo was a hero to American Indians and it was incomprehensible that “they use him to identify a man like Osama Bin Laden.”

“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,” Steven Newcomb wrote. (All quotes,

The site also notes that since 2001, 77 Native Americans and Alaskan Natives have died in U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 400 have been wounded.

It was an incredible blunder, a complete case of having your head up your posterior.

“Osama bin Laden is not an American. We are Americans. We are the first Americans. We are deeply offended by it,” said Fay Givens, executive director of American Indian Services. (Detroit Free Press)

In a world gone amok with political-correctness, where Osama bin Laden’s body is buried at sea in accordance with Muslim tradition, the United States fits the greatest terrorist against this country that has ever lived with the code name Geronimo.

Flat out, no mincing words, straight talk to follow: Geronimo was defending his family, his people and his homeland from an invading force of outsiders that showed complete abandon for all sense of morality and no regard for the rules of war, who in fact, regarded the Apache and all indigenous people as not human beings at all. Certainly, the Apache fought back as viciously as they were attacked, and the list of horrifying atrocities on both sides will make you lose your stomach. So it has been in every war mankind has known.

Native American journalist Lise Balk King put it, “It equates being Native American with being hated, an enemy to the world, and someone to be hunted down and killed . . .”

What in the world could the military, and particularly President Obama have been thinking? The nation’s first African-American president couldn’t have noticed that a racial slur was taking place?



Native American activist Suzan Shown Harjo, best known for leading the fight against use of Indian logos as president of the Morning Star Institute, expressed exasperation that the Geronimo slogan links present day terrorism and past stereotypes about the ‘Indian menace’:

“It’s how deeply embedded the ‘Indian as enemy’ is in the collective mind of America. To this day, when soldiers are going into enemy territory, it’s common for it to be called ‘Indian country.’” (

The United States of America just hit the world press with the announcement that it is now sensitive to all ethnic groups except Indians.

Fine, I’ll say it: What if the code name had been Malcolm X? Santa Anna?

I sometimes suspect that many reading this column, or news items or other information about modern Native Americans dismiss them as rhetoric or fall back on the tried-and-true declaration that we should just let go of the past and live in the present.

Well, here’s a fine, fine example of why we can’t.

Because if we had all succumbed to assimilation – annihilation by sponge – and blended into the great, steaming melting pot of U.S. culture, there’d be nobody here to be furious that Geronimo has been linked with Osama bin Laden. Such an incredibly insulting and tactless decision for a code name would have gone unnoticed and nobody would have mourned.

This isn’t about school or football mascots; it’s not about Dances With Wolves, an Oscar-winning film declared the best treatment of the authentic 1800s Native American condition ever made…though its hero was a white turncoat soldier. This is about talking out of both sides of their mouth when it comes to sensitivities and respect.

This is why we speak.

This is why we do not allow our history to be forgotten.

In 1998 I stood, in Lawton, beside Geronimo’s grave. He left no footprints. Power moved around me in a maelstrom. I stood in the cell he once occupied while non-Indians moved through, snapping photos and rushing back past the door, shuddering. I soaked in the great man’s remaining resonance, and left for Louisiana, for home, with it in my bones.

To our elders who teach us of our creation and of our past so that we may preserve it for ancestors yet to come

This is dedicated to our relatives before us, thousands of years ago

And to the 150 million who were exterminated across the Western Hemisphere in the first four hundred year’s time, starting in 1492

To those who have kept their homelands

And to the nations extinct due to mass slaughter, slavery, deportation and disease unknown to them

And to the ones who are subjected to the same treatment today. (Ulali, “All My Relations)

6 comments to Goyathlay

  • Jon

    Kudus Roger,

    Our nation could use those many ‘Great Spirits’ like Geronimo, and Cochise, Cheyenne, Black Kettle, Little Wolf, Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Silver Knife, Chief Joseph,’ etc. to help fend off the leaders of this nation since the Kennedy Administration. They’ve been hoodwinking the populace with their fabricated wars. lies and extortion, through the use of their manipulated media sources; which most trusted and have relied on for their news source facts. But those facts are merely fallacies, which have created this monster we call government; which have Joe Q. Public and the rest of the fools blindsided by their verbiage and written rhetoric sources. Each one of those people in power are in it for themselves, and always have been! That way, they control and manipulate the masses of our times as much as they did when they came from their purported British Monarchs (who still pull strings). Check who the majority stock owners are for B.P., Exxon/Mobile and Royal Dutch (Shell). It has been charades from the outset and a bigger brother is still behind their manipulative games. Games which they are using to cause the division of the masses in this current western society. Many parts of Europe and many other parts of our world are currently laughing at this demonic facade with their lies and deceit. If the people don’t banned together now, it will be a much larger massacre than the days in which they stole the lands of the original Americans (your direct descendants). Unfortunately, it may be too late as ‘we get fooled again’, like our serious brothers and sisters that new how to live off this land in a more civilized way before their extortion, abuse and annihilation. Those reservations are proof that FEMA has camps readied for the few survivors of this onslaught of their demonic plan. It is ‘wake up en masse time’ or the graves will be the largest holes that any genocide in the history of mankind has seen before.
    P.S. maybe all the water headed south, is part of their plan … blowing up levees after killing a dead man???


  • pete cooper, jr.

    I do not agree. And don’t ask me to say anymore, or I will assuredly stray from the present, barf me with a spoon, attitude of “political correctness”.


  • Robert

    lots of conspiracy stuff.
    But to simplify things. The mission was code-named Geronimo, NOT Bin Laden. The military uses code-names to hide the objective if someone
    who is not in the know stumbles across the code-name will not know the true nature of the mission. Operation Overlord was the code-name for
    D-day. I was involved in a few missions in my navy days that the exercises were given code-names.
    I don’t think the military was intentionally trying to slight the Native American community using Geronimo’s name for that mission.

  • Roger Stouff

    Robert, the message sent back by SEALs was:
    “Geronimo-E KIA” E stood for enemy and KIA for killed in action. Therefore, bin Landen was Geronimo.
    Pete, I’m not surprised.

  • Roger Stouff

    It’s a person’s NAME, fellas. A heroic figure to some of us (who no matter what refuse to be ‘like everybody else’). Operation codename or bin Laden’s personal codename, it was stupid. Robert E. Lee killed more Americans than Geronimo, but you sure wouldn’t have heard THAT used as a codename.

    Operation Fir Tree? Target name…River Rock? Outhouse? Brandywine? Papa Bear? Devil’s Spawn?

    Bajillions of codenames could have been used.

    To link bin Laden with Geronimo is stupid. Even if it was the Operation Geronimo name, why would they link a historical figure regarded as a criminal by the U.S. Government to an assassination? Ah…maybe it does make sense after all, eh?

    All opinions welcome here, but I get right of rebuttal. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Roger Stouff

    The operational name was Neptune Spear, by the way. 🙂

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