Noam Chomsky’s Reaction to bin Laden Death


From the last paragraph:

Same with the name, Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance against genocidal invaders. It’s like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk… It’s as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”

The article has, as one might imagined, drawn some criticism, though it is from also someone who pretty much criticizes everything.

Fletcher & Vicaire: “Indian Wars: Old and New”

Matthew Fletcher and Peter Vicaire have posted “Indian Wars: Old and New” on SSRN (download here). This is a paper prepared for the Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice’s 15th Anniversary symposium, “War On … The Fallout of Declaring War on Social Issues.”

Here is the abstract:

This short paper analyzes American history from the modern “wars” on poverty, drugs, and terror from the perspective of American Indians and Indian tribes. These domestic “wars” are aptly named (it turns out), as the United States often blindly pursues broad policy goals without input from tribal interests, and without consideration to the impacts on Indians and tribes. With the possible exception of the “war on poverty,” these domestic wars sweep aside tribal rights, rights that are frequently in conflict with the overarching federal policy goals.

This essay explores three declared domestic wars, and their impacts on American Indian tribes and individual Indians, in loose chronological order, starting with the war on poverty. As Part 1 demonstrates, the Johnson Administration’s Great Society programs helped to bring American Indian policy out of the dark ages of the era of termination, in which Congress had declared that national policy would be to terminate the trust relationship. Part 2 describes the war on drugs, declared by the Reagan Administration, which had unusually stark impacts on reservation communities both in terms of law enforcement, but also on American Indian religious freedom. Part 3 examines the ongoing war on terror, which Bush Administration officials opined has its legal justification grounded in part on the Indian wars of the 19th century. The war on terror marks America’s return to fighting a new Indian war, where the adversary is illusive and motivated, and where the rule of law is literally obliterated.

Interlochen Public Radio: Many Natives Bristle at “Geronimo” Codename


By Linda Stephan

American Indians across the U.S. are voicing frustration with the codename used for the mission to capture and kill Osama bin Laden.

The radio call that came shortly after bin Laden’s death was: Geronimo E.K.I.A., meaning: Geronimo, Enemy Killed In Action.

“Why did it have to be Geronimo? Why did that have to be referenced? There was no need for that. You just alienated Indian Country from sharing fully in this moment,” says Derek Bailey, chair of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. He says the good news of bin Laden’s death will always be tainted for him by a codename that links the Al-Qaeda leader with an 19th Century Apache warrior many in Indian Country today see as hero.

Bailey says he hopes this will force national discussion on the use of native stereotypes. Coincidentally, that issue will be taken up by a U.S. Senate committee Thursday

Geronimo was a native warrior who fought against the invasion of Apache tribal lands in the 1800s. He evaded U.S. authorities for years.

Matthew Fletcher, head of the Indigenous Law Center at MSU College of Law, says he wasn’t surprised to hear the codename.

“The federal government, particularly the military and parts of the Department of Justice have been using Indian stereotypes for a long time to describe bad guys,” he says.

The National Congress of American Indians released a statement today from its president, Jefferson Keel. It says: “To associate a Native warrior with bin Laden is not an accurate reflection of history and it undermines the military service of Native people…”

According to the group, 61 American Indian and Alaskan Native service members have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Close to 450 have been wounded.

Sam Deloria on Yale and Geronimo

From the Yale Alumni Magazine:

Yale seems reluctant to dig into the controversy over whether Skull and Bones has Geronimo’s skull and bones. But the university’s most prominent Native American alumnus wants his alma mater to take a stand.

A federal lawsuit by Geronimo’s great-grandson is on hold for now against the university and the secret society. Nonetheless, “I would like to see Yale say to Skull and Bones, ‘Give them back whatever you have or you’re finished at Yale,'” says Sam Deloria ’64, recipient of the university’s first Native Alumni Achievement Award in 2005.

Deloria, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and director of the American Indian Graduate Center in New Mexico, recognizes that “that’s not going to happen,” thanks to what he calls “institutional cowardice” and the “powerful, powerful people” — including both Bush presidents — who belong to Skull and Bones.

Still, he would like to see Yale take a public stand on the efforts of Geronimo’s descendants to find out whether Skull and Bones really has any of the Apache warrior’s remains. “An acknowledgment that the tribes and the families have some concern would be a start.”

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Geronimo’s Descendants v. Yale’s Skull and Bones UPDATED

Why is it when Indian people demand rights to the simple dignity of being able to bury your ancestors, using a statute specially created by Congress for that purpose (NAGPRA), it becomes one of the “strangest” lawsuits? You know what’s strange? Stealing the bones of dead people, and then mocking the relatives of the dead people stolen when they ask for them back. It’s not unheard of from University secret societies (Michigamua, for example).

The complaint is here: geronimo-complaint. Why they wanted the complaint caption to sound Geronimo v. Obama is anyone’s guess. 😦

From WSJ Law Blog (via Faculty Lounge and Indianz):

geronimoOf all the strange lawsuits to which this blog has devoted pixels, this one definitely ranks among the very strangest.

Decendents of the Apache chief Geronimo (pictured) have sued Yale University and the school’s famous secret organization, Skull and Bones, asking for the release of Geronimo’s remains.

Let’s write that again, just to make sure it sinks in:

Decendents of Geronimo are asking a secret society at Yale called Skull and Bones to give back Geronimo’s, well, skull and bones. (Hence the name?) Here are stories from Fox News and the Yale Daily News.

According to reports, the complaint (not yet available), filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., alleges that members of Skull and Bones long ago invaded Geronimo’s grave to steal his skull for, as Fox puts it, “fraternal” (and, it seems, skull-related) “rituals.” A handful of others, including Yale, are reportedly named in the complaint.

The descendants say they are investigating claims that in 1918, members of Skull and Bones, including Prescott Bush, the father of George H.W Bush and grandfather of George W. Bush, invaded Geronimo’s grave at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and stole his skull, some bones and other items buried with him. Three members of the Skull and Bones, including Prescott Bush, served as Army volunteers at Fort Sill during World War I. The suit asks that Geronimo’s remains be returned to his native land in Oklahoma and given a proper burial.

Who’s leading the fight for the decendents? None other than Ramsey Clark, who served as attorney general under LBJ. “In this lawsuit, we’re going to find out if the bones are there or not,” said Clark.

Gila Reinstein, a spokeswoman for Yale University, said that Yale can add nothing to the mystery of the Indian chief’s whereabouts. “To the best of my knowledge, Yale University has no relics or bones belonging to Geronimo,” she said, adding that she couldn’t speak on behalf of Skull and Bones because it is independent of the university.

NYTs on American Indian Baseball

From the NYTs:

HOWES CAVE, N.Y. (AP) — Long before Jackie Robinson endured torrents of racial taunts in breaking baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Louis Sockalexis had a bull’s-eye on his back.

From the day in 1897 when he first put on a uniform for the Cleveland Spiders, Sockalexis took more than his share of racial slurs.

“If the small and big boys of Brooklyn find it a pleasure to shout at me, I have no objections,” Sockalexis told The Brooklyn Eagle during his rookie season. “No matter where we play, I go through the same ordeal, and at the present time, I am so used to it that at times I forget to smile at my tormentors.”

Sockalexis figured the tormenting was just part of the game. A Penobscot Indian from Maine, Sockalexis is considered the first player of American Indian descent to make it to the major leagues. (James Madison Toy played with Cleveland a decade earlier and was said to be of Sioux ancestry, but he never publicly acknowledged his Indian heritage and his 1919 death certificate lists his race as white.)

Sockalexis’s story is one of many chronicled in “Baseball’s League of Nations: A Tribute to Native Americans in Baseball,” an exhibit on display through the end of the year at the Iroquois Indian Museum here. The exhibit features photographs and artifacts, many on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in nearby Cooperstown.

“There’s never been an exhibit like this before,” said Mike Tarbell, 61, an Akwesasne Mohawk who serves as an educator at the museum. “For myself, it’s like a breath of fresh air. We’re always doing something that involves pottery or basket making or painting or sculpturing of some kind. We’ve forgotten that baseball was a part of our history as well.”

Counting the current players Joba Chamberlain (Winnebago Nation) of the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury (Navajo) of the Boston Red Sox and Kyle Lohse (Nomlaki Nation) of the St. Louis Cardinals, more than 50 American Indians have played professional baseball.

“We came up with a lot of cool stuff that we didn’t think we were going to find,” said the museum’s curator, Stephanie Shultes, who assembled the exhibit. “It was kind of amazing, once we started, how much there really was out there, how many of these guys that you did find out about you may have never realized before were native.”

American Indians were introduced to baseball in several ways. Lewis and Clark are said to have taught an early version of baseball to members of the Nez Perce during the explorers’ trek across North America from 1804 to 1806. And in the late 1800s, American Indian prisoners of war at Fort Sill, Okla., including the Apache warrior Geronimo, played baseball.

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