As bin Laden was felled in a US raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the military sent a message back to the White House: Geronimo EKIA -- Enemy killed in action.
Geronimo was an Apache leader in the 19th century who spent many years fighting the Mexican and US armies until his surrender in 1886.
Loretta Tuell, staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said it was inappropriate to link Geronimo, whom she called "one of the greatest Native American heroes," with one of the most hated enemies of the United States.
"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.
Hurt and puzzled by the choice of 'Geronimo' as a codename, Native Americans used Facebook, websites and Twitter to express their anger, ABC news reported. "It's another attempt to label Native Americans as terrorists," said Paula Antoine from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
"Da gov't code named osama bin laden "Geronimo"! wat kinda (expletive) is that?" is how Cody YoungBear LeClair of Marshalltown, Iowa, put it on his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, the White House officials have insisted that the Geronimo was used as the name only for the mission, not bin Laden himself.