AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT GRAND GOVERNING COUNCIL
May 6, 2011
“Long live Geronimo....the worse Indian who ever lived....this speaks to the reality, that of some disturbed racial cultural perception America has of native people....this war of violent insanity is between the Christians Jews and Muslims and they should leave the Indians out of it”... John Trudell
Known as Geronimo, Goyathlay, a Chiracahua of the Apache Nation died in 1909 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was a revered warrior and holy man. He was hunted down by the U.S. army and captured in 1886. A prisoner of war, he was forced to live out his life without ever returning to his homeland. He was buried at Fort Sill in the Apache Indian prisoner of war cemetery.
Geronimo was no terrorist. In 1858 his wife, child, and mother were massacred by the Mexican army. Geronimo was a leader who fought against the invasion of Native land and the heinous atrocities committed against Indigenous Nations. He was truly a defender of both his land and his people. One of the most notorious warriors in history, evading the United States and Mexican armies, he refused to give up. The United States military hunted him for 10 years involving over 5,000 soldiers and 500 scouts when he was finally captured.
Recent news reports say what Geronimo did during his time would be called acts of terrorism, raiding white settlers living in Apache territory. However, these statements do not acknowledge the brutal legacy of colonization and genocide of American Indians throughout this continent. There is no comparison to what the United States did to the Apache and other tribes. There are whole tribes of Indian people who no longer exist as a result of the military campaign to exterminate us, and appropriate our land. Geronimo was a hero. If not for him and others like him, we as Indian people would not be here today.
As American Indian people, we hear all the time that we should ‘forget the past, that it is ancient history’, and all those kinds of things. But it is clear that colonial mentality that fueled the Indian Wars and dictated anti-Indian federal policy is still alive and present today in the 21st century. The United States military and commanders named the recent mission to kill the man known as Osama Bin Laden, “Geronimo.” Equating the mission to hunt and capture Osama Bin Laden with that of Geronimo sends a powerful message that American Indians are still perceived as enemies of the United States.
The long history of dehumanizing Indian people and treating Native Nations as enemies has become so ingrained in mainstream American Ideology that it is no longer even questioned. The colonial perception of Indigenous peoples as less than human enemies, which was used to justify dominance and violence, is still being subconsciously perpetuated today. The terrorist during the time of Geronimo was not Geronimo. Mass murder was committed by America. We must remember that it was not Geronimo who invaded this country. It was not Geronimo who committed genocide.