From Geronimo to ‘The Scalp Hunters’: 10 Military Uses of Native Imagery

Vincent Schilling

Considering the U.S. Military uses a plethora of Native American names and imagery to label and designate combat equipment, machinery and maneuvers and missions, one is often left to wonder the illustrious but simple question, why?

In an opinion article in the Washington Post by Simon Waxman (managing editor of the Boston Review) entitled, The U.S. military’s ongoing slur of Native Americans Waxman eloquently puts it this way,

“The destruction of the Indians was asymmetric war, compounded by deviousness in the name of imperialist manifest destiny. White America shot, imprisoned, lied, swindled, preached, bought, built and voted its way to domination. Identifying our powerful weapons and victorious campaigns with those we subjugated serves to lighten the burden of our guilt. It confuses violation with a fair fight.”

Considering Waxman’s words as well as holding on to our own Native perspective, perhaps we can pause for a moment and ponder these 10 Military Uses of Native American Names.

The Mission to capture Osama bin Laden was dubbed “Operation Geronimo”

President Obama and Washington first learned that Osama bin Laden – the main player in the 9-11 Trade Tower Terrorist Attacks, had been killed when a Navy SEAL sent back a coded message to Washington which simply stated “Geronimo-E KIA” The message meant that Osama Bin Laden (Geronimo) the Enemy (E) had been Killed in Action (KIA).

The use of the term sent shockwaves through Indian country and the world, critics called the use of Geronimo in poor taste for the military assault.

RELATED: Don’t Read My Lips: Why an Apology from Obama on “Geronimo” Is Unlikely

RELATED: Bin Laden Ain’t No Geronimo

The BGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missile

The Tomahawk is an all-weather submarine or ship launched land attack cruise missile. After launch, an enclosed turbofan engine keeps the missile at cruise until hitting the target with pinpoint accuracy. The Tomahawk was used extensively during Desert Storm in 1991, in Iraq in 1993, in Bosnia in 1995 and in Iraq (Desert Strike) in 1996.


You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



hammertime's picture
Submitted by hammertime on
Why?/ maybe the military thinks that they are showing respect by naming their weapons systems after formidable warriors...that they fought in the past???