Congress to Examine "Inappropriate" and "Devastating" Use of "Geronimo" Codename in bin Laden Mission

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

The Senate Indian Affairs committee will hold a hearing Thursday on racist Native American stereotypes, a hearing that will now also address the Osama bin Laden mission and the code-name Geronimo.

While the hearing was scheduled before the mission, a committee aide today said the linking of the name Geronimo 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 said. “We intend to open the forum to talk about them.”

The Senate committee is chaired by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. Thursday’s 2:15p hearing will examine how Wild West shows, Hollywood films, and Indigenous-themed sports mascots have shaped the perception of Native Americans, according to a press release. Witnesses include Tex Hall of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, Suzan Shown Harjo of the Morning Star Institute, Charlene Teters of the Institute of American Indian Arts, Stephanie Fryberg of the University of Arizona, Chaske Spencer of Urban Dream Productions, Jim Warne of Warrior Society Development.

The Obama administration has indicated that the Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden did not use “Geronimo” as the codename for him, but rather it was the code for the act of capturing or killing him.

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