The twilight language explores hidden meanings and synchromystic connections via onomatology (study of names) and toponymy (study of place names). This blog further investigates "name games" and "number coincidences" found in news and history. Examinations are also found in my book The Copycat Effect (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004).
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Geronimo and Skull & Bones
Operation Geronimo was the codenamed mission to kill Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011.Geronimo (Chiricahua: Goyaałé, "one who yawns"; often spelled Goyathlay or Goyahkla in English) (June 16, 1829 – February 17, 1909) was a prominent Native American leader of the ChiricahuaApachewho fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars.
In one of the strange twists of the story of the original Geromino, enter a secret society well-known to conspiracy theorists. Six members of the Yalesecret society of Skull and Bones, including Prescott Bush, served as Army volunteers at Fort Sill during World War I. It has been claimed by various parties that they stole Geronimo's skull, some bones, and other items, including Geronimo's prized silver bridle, from the Apache Indian Prisoner of War Cemetery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Alexandra Robbins, author of Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power (2002), says this is one of the more plausible items said to be in the organization's Tomb.
The Americans chose the code name of a Native American warrior chief in the operation to kill Osama bin Laden. But, as Samira Ahmed writes, Geronimo did more than evade capture - he became a hero.
It's what you shout when take a dangerous leap; a slogan of US paratroopers during the second world war.
But the 19th century Chiricahua Apache hero, whose name it is, was a perhaps questionable choice of code name for Osama Bin Laden; given the numbers of people who do regard him as a hero. His story is laden with symbolic parallels for those who choose to regard Bin Laden as a great warrior.
Born Goyahkla (He Who Yawns) in modern New Mexico in 1829, he was given the name Geronimo by Mexican soldiers, who prayed to St Jerome, after seeing him defy bullets to attack with a knife.
His desire for revenge against the Mexicans was fuelled by their massacre of his mother, wife and three children. He was a symbol of resistance – the man who defied the White Man's broken treaties, who refused to remain quietly on a reservation when other tribes had given in and been forced off their tribal lands.
Geronimo famously said he was not a chief, a political leader. Instead, like Bin Laden, he saw himself as a military leader.
Bin Laden's fundamental hatred against the west was supposedly the US presence on holy (and oil-rich) Saudi Arab soil. In the 1860s, the discovery of Gold in the West saw the US and the Mexican governments speed up their push against American Indians to seize their land.
Geronimo became a great war leader, a symbol of resistance to the white occupation. His small band of warriors raided settlements in Arizona, and attacked US troops.
As the US looks to withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the possibility of negotiating with theTaliban, it's worth noting that he was rarely defeated and US generals found themselves struggling to form a successful strategy.
The last of the Indian wars ended after years, only when Geronimo signed a piece treaty with General Nelson Miles – who had failed to defeat him by military means.
The end of Geronimo was a humiliation of broken promises, not assassination.
As a result of the revisionist histories written since the 1960s, many younger Americans, such as President Obama, would, surely be aware of the less than honorable actions of US forces against American Indians, such as Geronimo.
He and his people were moved around Florida, and Alabama, ending up in Oklahoma. He was not killed in a compound; but died in US military base – Fort Sill in 1909, after completing his autobiography.
Even in the early 1960s, when we assume Indians were the "bad guys", Hollywood’s first biopic starring the white sportsman turned actor Chuck Connors as the Native Indian hero, saw him portrayed as a great hero and family man, abused by Federal forces.
The 1993 film Geronimo: An American Legend, starting Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall and the Native American Wes Studi as Geronimo, focused on the abuse of the Apache themselves and the success of a small band of dedicated warriors against the might of the US military.
According to some analyses today, the US military chose the code name because Bin Laden, like Geronimo, had evaded capture for years. If they were trying to avoid mythmaking, it seems they chose the wrong code name.
Thus reports Channel 4 News. The British, via the BBC News, have another take on the name game of "Geronimo."
The code name for the operation to capture Osama Bin Laden was Geronimo. Why was it named after one of the best-known Native Americans?
Geronimo. The Apache warrior's name conjures up an image of the American Wild West, the world over.
In the best-known photograph of him - taken in 1887 - he glares defiantly into the camera, gripping a rifle. It was this fearless warrior that led the last band of Apache resistance to the white Americans.
The fact that Bin Laden had been killed by US special forces was reported to President Barack Obama on Sunday with the words "Geronimo EKIA" - Enemy Killed In Action.
But US officials have not commented on why the name Geronimo was chosen - and may never do so.Old West reincarnated
It was back in 2001 that the narrative for America's hunt for the al-Qaeda leader became strewn with Wild West imagery.
George W Bush's call for Bin Laden to be caught "dead or alive" mimicked the posters of the old Hollywood westerns, while borderland Pakistan became the Old West reincarnated in the minds of many commentators.
Bin Laden was referred to by one as a "21st-Century Geronimo, trying to elude the US military somewhere in a dry mountain range that could easily pass for the American West".
Afghanistan's cave-laced mountains, were easy to imagine using the template of the Sierra Madre mountain range thousands of miles away, where the original Geronimo managed to elude US troops for so long in the late 19th Century.
Referring to US military possibilities in the tribal areas of Afghanistan's mountainous regions, Allan R Millet, a retired Marine Corps colonel and Ohio State University professor, said in 2001: "It's like shooting missiles at Geronimo... you might get a couple of Apaches, but what difference does that make?"
Geronimo was actually given the name Goyahkla at birth. One theory is that he acquired the name Geronimo from the Mexicans he fought to avenge the death of members of his family.
According to one story the Mexicans would shout: "Cuidado! (Watch out!) Geronimo!". It could be because they mispronounced his name or, as some historians have suggested, they were calling for the protection of St Jerome.
The real Geronimo was born in 1829 in what is modern day New Mexico. As one of the Apache leaders, he inherited a tradition of resisting colonisation by both Spaniards and North Americans.
According to Ron Jackson writing in the Oklahoman in 2009, Geronimo's "legend is rooted in real deeds of bravery and bloodshed."
He gained early notoriety for his fearless raids against Mexican soldiers. Mexican troops had killed members of his family after storming his village, and his revenge was to kill as many of them as possible.
"By 1872, US government officials were keenly aware of Geronimo's fighting exploits when they corralled him and hundreds of his fellow Chiricahua Apache people onto an Arizona Territory reservation," writes Mr Jackson.
"Four years later, Geronimo led a large band of Apache dissidents off the reservation and into the Sierra Madre mountains of Old Mexico, where they staged raids on anyone unlucky enough to cross their paths.
"Military officials soon branded Geronimo a renegade. During the next decade, Geronimo repeatedly returned to reservation life in peace only to bolt with others for the refuge of the Sierra Madres. They often left a trail of blood. Hidden in the myriad mountain passes and caves, Geronimo and his followers embarrassed military officers by eluding them time and again, at one point with as many as 5,000 US soldiers on their heels."
It was Apache scouts that helped track Geronimo down in 1886.
The hunt for Bin Laden was often portrayed with Wild West imagery.
His struggle to resist the white Americans has led to him being depicted in a sympathetic light by many cultural historians.
Ironically, it is thanks to the Native American's legendary bravery that one of US army's elite units has the regimental nickname "Geronimo".
The link to the parachute division's moniker and the tradition of shouting "Geronimo" while diving out of a plane can be traced to Fort Benning in the state of Georgia.
According to reports, in 1940 soldiers from the parachute division were preparing to test a daring new maneuver, in which men jumped from the plane in rapid succession.
The night before the jump, a small group of soldiers left the base to watch film at the local cinema - a western featuring the fearless Geronimo. As the men later revealed their apprehension about the next day's jump, Pt Aubrey Eberhardt announced that he was going to shout "Geronimo" as he leapt from the plane to demonstrate his courage.
The story goes that as he jumped, "G-E-R-O-N-I-M-O" was clearly heard from the ground. It was copied by other servicemen and quickly became standard parachute regiment practice - and the favoured cry for little boys performing a daring leap.
The word "Geronimo" was eventually discontinued by the army in favor of a parachute opening count - "one-thousand, two-thousand, three-thousand" - but by this stage it was already the name of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment.
The "Geronimos" have been operational in Iraq and Afghanistan. By adopting the tactics and techniques of al-Qaeda and the Taleban, they help to train other units to defend themselves.
The original Geronimo is buried at Fort Still in Oklahoma - but one branch of his descendants argue that he should be laid to rest in his tribal homeland of the Gila Mountains of New Mexico. Until the correct sacred rite is carried out, his spirit is still wandering.
So what's the end of the story of Skull & Bones stealing Geronimo's skull?
In 1986, former San Carlos Apache Chairman Ned Anderson received an anonymous letter with a photograph and a copy of a log book claiming that Skull & Bones held the skull. He met with Skull & Bones officials about the rumor; the group's attorney, Endicott P. Davidson, denied that the group held the skull, and said that the 1918 ledger saying otherwise was a hoax.The group offered Anderson a glass case containing what appeared to be the skull of a child, but Anderson refused it. In 2006, Marc Wortman discovered a 1918 letter from Skull & Bones member Winter Mead to F. Trubee Davison that claimed the theft:
The skull of the worthy Geronimo the Terrible, exhumed from its tomb at Fort Sill by your club... is now safe inside the tomb and bone together with his well worn femurs, bit and saddle horn.
The second "tomb" references the building of Yale University's Skull & Bones society.
But Mead was not at Fort Sill, and Cameron University history professor David H. Miller notes that Geronimo's grave was unmarked at the time. The revelation led Harlyn Geronimo of Mescalero, New Mexico, to write to President Bush requesting his help in returning the remains:
According to our traditions the remains of this sort, especially in this state when the grave was desecrated ... need to be reburied with the proper rituals ... to return the dignity and let his spirits rest in peace.
The Fort Sill grave site of Geronimo.
In 2009, Ramsey Clark filed a lawsuit on behalf of people claiming to be Geronimo's descendants, against, among others, Barack Obama, Robert Gates, and Skull & Bones, asking for the return of Geronimo's bones. An article in The New York Times states that Clark "acknowledged he had no hard proof that the story was true." +++ Please see comments below for more on the "third" head: Pancho Villa's.