By Susan Montoya Bryan
Fort Sill Apache Tribal Chairman Jeff Houser sent a letter to the president Tuesday, saying equating the legendary Apache warrior to a "mass murderer and cowardly terrorist" was painful and offensive to all Native Americans.
The letter was posted Wednesday morning on the Oklahoma tribe's website.
"Right now Native American children all over this country are facing the reality of having one of their most revered figures being connected to a terrorist and murderer of thousands of innocent Americans," Houser wrote. "Think about how they feel at this point."
Houser noted Obama was elected on a message of compassion and change. Forever linking the memory of Geronimo to "one of the most despicable enemies this country has ever had" shows neither compassion to Native Americans nor change in perception of Indians or their struggle, he said.
Codename 'A Slap In The Face Of My Family,' Great Grandson Says
Joseph Geronimo said he remembers stories about his great grandfather from the time he was a boy.
"I was fortunate to talk with a lot of the people who fought alongside him who were warriors," Joseph Geronimo said.
"The only thing my grandfather did was protect his family and protect the land," Joseph Geronimo said. "Those so-called historians, they twist things around and make him look like a terrorist and make him sound like something he's not."
Joseph Geronimo said his family has defended their land in more ways than one. They have three generations of military service, so for the Navy Seals to use the Geronimo name to describe one of the most hated terrorists in the world was an insult to his family.
"That was a slap in the face of my family. There's no way you can compare Osama bin Laden to my grandfather," Joseph Geronimo said.