Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
Navajo Code Talkers
WASHINGTON - Today is known as Pearl Harbor Day. Some 1,500 were killed that day when the United States was attacked.
President Franklin Roosevelt, appearing before a joint session of Congress, declared: "December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy." It was 70 years ago today.
On December 7, 1941 there were reportedly some 5,000 American Indians in the United States military. By the end World War II, 24,521 American Indian who lived on reservations and another 20,000 off-reservation American Indians had served this nation. The combined 44,500 American Indian men and women, who served in the military during World War II, represented more than 10 percent of total American Indian population of 335,000, as reported in the 1940 United States census. In some tribes, up to 70 percent of able-bodied men served in the war.
World War II ushered in the US military's utilization of American Indians, who were Choctaw and Navajo, as code talkers. The Choctaws served in the US Army and the Navajos served in the Marine Corps. The Hollywood movie "Wind Talkers" with Adam Beach, Ojibwa, was released in 2002 that tells the story of the Navajo code talkers.
An irony of history is the very languages that non-Indians literally attempted to beat out of them would be used in military code that helped to win the war for the United States. We can be glad the languages were not completely beat out of them as was the mission of their teachers when they were students in boarding schools. The American Indian codes have never been broken.
Today is a date to remember.
posted December 7, 2011 10:20 am est
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