The Native American code talkers of W...

The Native American code talkers of World War II

Posted in the Manila Forum

First Prev
of 4
Next Last

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#1 Sep 19, 2012
During World War I and World War II, hundreds of American Indians joined the United States armed forces and used words from their traditional tribal languages as weapons. The United States military asked them to develop secret battle communications based on their languages—and America’s enemies never deciphered the coded messages they sent.“Code Talkers,” as they came to be known after World War II, are twentieth-century American Indian warriors and heroes who significantly aided the victories of the United States and its allies.
American Indian nations have always fought to defend themselves. Anyone who threatened their families, cultures, and lands was their enemy, including the United States. As a result of wars with the United States, many tribes were forced off their lands, relocated, or confined to reservations where they endured poverty, racism, and attempts to erase their traditional cultures. Languages were particularly targeted in the government’s efforts to change the American Indians’ ways of life. Beginning in the late 1800s, Indian children were forbidden to speak their own languages and punished in government- and church-supported boarding schools if they did.

Most American Indians were not legally considered citizens of the United States until 1924. Even then, some states refused to let American Indians vote until as late as the 1950s.
Despite this tragic history, many American Indian men and women have served in all branches of the military. In many conflicts and wars, including World War I and World War II, American Indians honorably defended their homelands and the United States.

American Indian Code Talkers were communications specialists. Their job was to send coded messages about troop movements, enemy positions, and other critical information on the battlefield. Some Code Talkers translated messages into their Native languages and relayed them to another tribal member. Others developed a special code within their languages that they used in combat to send important messages.

It became serious when we started to develop that code. You know, they wouldn’t let anybody in there. They kind of shut us out, secretly you know. Trying to talk about it back and forth. And there’s lots of guards around.—John Brown, Jr., Navajo Code Talker, National Museum of the American Indian interview, 2004

This major took us into a great big room and he said,‘you guys are going to have to make up a code in your own native language,’ that’s all he said. He left, closed the door behind him and locked the door. We didn’t know what to think, you know? What does he mean by making a code in our own language? We sat there for about three or four minutes thinking, how are we going to develop this code?—Chester Nez, Navajo Code Talker, National Museum of the American Indian interview, 2004

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#2 Sep 19, 2012
Native American tribes have lived and thrived upon the North American landscape for thousands of years—long before there was a United States. Historically, about 500 distinct Native languages were spoken in North America. All Code Talkers were fluent speakers of their tribe’s language.

Language is central to cultural identity. It is the code containing the subtleties and secrets of cultural life. In many ways, language determines thought.—W. Richard West, Jr., Southern Cheyenne and member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma; Founding Director, National Museum of the American Indian
Language is the essence of culture. People’s ways of living, their histories, and their philosophies are all understood and communicated through language. Although most American Indian people today speak English, they still consider their traditional languages to be extremely important for cultural identity. Even though many of these Native languages have disappeared now, many are still spoken. When the last speaker of a language passes away, the language is gone forever. Native communities are working hard to keep Native languages alive.

During World War I and World War II, a variety of American Indian languages were used to send secret military messages.
Here are the American Indian Code Talkers’ languages and the numbers of tribal members who served, if known. There were at least two Code Talkers from each tribe.
The Navajo

The Navajo people call themselves the “Naabeeho´ Dine’é, or sometimes, Diné.”“Diné Bizaad” is the Navajo term for the Navajo language. In many ways, today’s Navajos live like other people in the United States. Fortunately, many Navajos still speak their language. During World War II, about 420 Navajos served as Code Talkers—the most from any Native group. Today, the tribe works to preserve its language for future generations.
More about today’s Navajos:

Current population: The Navajos have more than 250,000 tribal members.

The Navajo homeland: Four sacred mountains covering 27,000 square miles of the four corners area of Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona define the Navajo homeland,“Dinétah.”

Arts: Traditionally, Navajo artists were well known for beautiful woven textiles and silver jewelry. Navajo artists today are musicians, painters, sculptors, and poets.

Tribal government: Navajo government operates under a constitution with a President, Vice President, Council (with 88 delegates), court system, police force, college, and many other programs and services for the Navajo people.
The Comanche

During World War II, 17 Comanches served as Code Talkers. The Comanche people call themselves the “NUMUNUU.”“NUMU TEKWAPUHA” is the Comanche term for the Comanche language. Even though the Comanches are a modern and contemporary people, their heritage is important to them. The Comanche language is still spoken today, but not by all tribal members. The tribe has created language and cultural preservation programs that have produced numerous language instructional materials.
More about today’s Comanches:

Current population: The Comanches have more than 13,000 tribal members.

Traditional Comanche homeland: Traditional Comanche homeland spanned large parts of the southern Great Plains in what are now Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Homeland today: Most Comanches live in the Lawton-Ft. Sill area of southwest Oklahoma.

Importance of horses: Horses are a very important part of traditional Comanche culture. The Comanches kept large herds and were well known for their exceptional horsemanship. They introduced other tribes to the use of horses.

Tribal government: Comanche government is elected and guided by a constitution. The Comanche government is involved in many kinds of programs, including economic development, environmental protection, and education.

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#3 Sep 19, 2012
Carl Gorman

was born in 1907 in Chinle, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. According to the way that Navajo people introduce themselves, Carl was of the Black Sheep Clan and born for the Towering House Clan. This identifies his lineage on both his mother and father’s sides. English and Navajo were spoken in Carl’s boyhood home, and he learned both languages. As a young boy, Carl loved to draw pictures, ride his father’s horses, and tend his family’s sheep and cattle. He enjoyed watching his mother weave the beautiful and intricate traditional Navajo rugs. Carl learned the traditional Navajo ways and loved the beauty of the Navajo lands.

You are born with your culture. My culture is Navajo. That’s what you live with. Family, heritage—the roots are deep.—Carl Gorman, Navajo Code Talker (Power of a Navajo: Carl Gorman, the Man and His Life by Henry and Georgia Greenberg, 1996)

Charles Chibitty

was born in 1921 near Medicine Park, Oklahoma. This community is part of the traditional Comanche territory and is in the Wichita Mountains, north of Lawton, Oklahoma. Charles grew up speaking his tribe’s language. His last name, Chibitty, means “holding on good” in the Comanche language. In today’s Comanche government, the tribe elects its leaders. However, in the past, the Comanche chiefs inherited their positions of leadership. According to the Comanche Nation, Mr. Chibitty was the last surviving hereditary chief of the tribe, descending on his mother's side from Chief Ten Bears.

I will post more later. Wado.

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#4 Sep 20, 2012
Keith Little
served as a Navajo Code Talker with the US Marine Corps from December of 1943 until after the war. He fought in numerous engagements of WWII, including battles in the Marshall Islands, Sai Pan, and Iwo Jima. Like most of the Navajo Code Talkers, he wasn't aware of the significance of his contribution to the war effort until much later in life. It was only then that he understood the importance of documenting their story for posterity. In conversation about his hopes for the new museum, he speaks with certitude of his desire to teach the younger generations of the importance of striving for excellence and of serving above and beyond the call of duty. Promoting a greater understanding of the Navajo culture, traditions and way of life is a cause he also holds dear. When asked why he chose to go to war, he answers simply: "[because] the Japanese made a sneak attack on the US," adding that he wanted "to protect our people, land and country."

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#5 Sep 20, 2012
Teddy Draper Sr. joined the Marines on November 3rd, 1943, and was soon after sent overseas as a Navajo Code Talker serving in many harrowing campaigns. In the assault on Iwo Jima, he was wounded in the face and leg by mortar fire but continued to fight on with his comrades. He landed with the 28th Marines on Green Beach and, at one point, bravely ran through heavy enemy fire and back again to retrieve lost equipment needed to open lines of communication. It was a distinguished act for which he was promoted. Sadly, he lost many friends during this bloody struggle. Teddy Draper Sr. later went on to serve in occupied Japan, where he became proficient in his third language, which he still remembers today. He was discharged May 16th, 1946.

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#6 Sep 20, 2012
Bill Toledo
was a Navajo Code Talker for three years from October 1942 to October 1945. He served in many engagements including the Battle of Bougainville in the British Solomon Islands, and the battles for Guam and Iwo Jima. On the island of Guam, while filling in as a messenger, he narrowly escaped sniper bullets by means of some quick footwork. Impressed by his moves, some of the Marines jokingly asked about his football career before the war. Not all Marines were so jovial, though. On one occasion, while marching through the jungle, he was mistaken for a Japanese soldier and taken prisoner. After being marched back to headquarters at gunpoint, he was assigned a bodyguard to avoid future misunderstandings. Although the danger is gone, he still gets calls to this day making sure he's okay. Bill Toledo feels it is important to share experiences like his with new generations so that they may understand the cost of freedom and the sacrifices which were made on their behalf.

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#7 Sep 20, 2012
Meet Samuel Tso

When Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tso saw the tiny island of Iwo Jima for the first time, he thought US forces would be able to take it in one day. Even as they landed, the beaches were dead quiet. Only after they had made their way up the beach did the heavily entrenched Japanese open fire. It was not long before the young Marine reconsidered his first assessment. It would take more than a month of brutal combat before the island was secured. Samuel Tso bravely served with the US Marine Corps from February 13th, 1943 to March 29th, 1946. Even now, some 65 years later, he recalls with clarity the experience of crouching in bomb craters for cover, unable to ascertain the direction of fire until comrades on the opposite side of the crater were killed. Hearing his experiences, it becomes quite clear why the Navajo Code Talkers Museum & Veterans' Project is so meaningful to him. It will be a place where the Code Talkers can tell their own harrowing stories and help promote the cause of peace.

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#8 Sep 20, 2012
September 27, 2007 - Pine Ridge, South Dakota - The language is Lakota, one of three dialects of the people collectively called Sioux, a tribe of hunters and warriors that once roamed all over the northern plains. The language is divided into three dialects - Dakota, Nakota and Lakota - but any person who speaks one dialect can understand the others.

Clarence Wolf Guts is an 83-year-old Lakota warrior whose ability to speak his native language played a role in defeating the Japanese in World War II.
"I helped win the war, I helped, me and my buddies," he said.

With a surname that many non-Indians in the US military found amusing, Clarence Wolf Guts took his fair share of teasing, but he soon found himself assigned with other Lakota speakers to a special unit.

The so-called code talkers would send and receive messages in their language. Similar programs were operated by the U.S. Marines using mainly Navajo speakers. The Japanese were never able to understand the messages.

It was dangerous work, often carried out near the front lines, where Clarence says he saw plenty of combat.
"We got shot at and we did some shooting ourselves. You know it is not easy shooting at another human being," he said.

Until a couple of years ago most people who knew Clarence Wolf Guts on the Pine Ridge reservation had no idea that he had been a code talker because he seldom spoke about it. Former Pine Ridge neighbor Charles Trimble now directs the Institute of American Indian Studies at the University of South Dakota.

"We did not know it," he said. "I did not know until a couple of years ago when I was reading something. He never talked about it. A lot of times veterans would come home, especially during World War II and you would very seldom, except when two or three got together, hear them talk about that-about the horrible things that happened around them or anything else."

It would be difficult to form a Lakota code-talker unit today because most of the estimated 8,000 speakers are elderly people and few young Lakotas can speak the language fluently. But the university offers classes in Lakota for both Indian and non-Indian students and Trimble says this helps keep the language alive.

"I think it is important," he said. "I think it is beautiful and I think it helps a person and, certainly, it keeps the tribe alive, as a tribe."

Trimble says the story of the Lakota code talkers is an important part of the heritage that binds tribal members together.

"There are benefits to knowing you are an Indian and accepting it, being an Indian and being proud of it and understanding it," he said.

Clarence Wolf Guts now lives in a retirement home in Pine Ridge. He says seeing the people of his country healthy and happy is the greatest reward he gained from his service in the war.

"When I see people laughing and having a good time I realize why we were over there," he said. "We done it for the people and if they are happy, then I am the happiest person alive."

For many years after the war the code talkers were largely forgotten. But after military documents were declassified in the 1990s and a book came out about the Navajo code talkers, historians and news reporters sought out the surviving code talkers. There had been over a 100 of them from 17 tribes. Most of them have passed on now, but a few like Clarence Wolf Guts remain to tell the story of how they used their native tongue to help win a war.

Pale face

United States

#10 Sep 20, 2012
And where do these tribes get the money for all these tribal services. The u s taxpayer!!
Yes they have many many casinos that contribute so much to mankind!!

Why do they all have their own constitution. Can't follows the US. If you are your own nation the get off your drunk lazy ass and work for it stop daring the American taxpayer.
Worthless bums!!!!!!
Pale face

Euless, TX

#11 Sep 27, 2012
Ota so easy to defeat Indians.

Such cowards!!!!!
tepee

Blytheville, AR

#12 Sep 27, 2012
Omg, write a book.
Annomyous 4

Mountain Home, AR

#13 Nov 9, 2012
Hey cheeroke 762 good peice of information I learned somthing from that thank you
Dick

Euless, TX

#14 Nov 9, 2012
I learned something too.
We should have killed all the Indians when we had the chance.
Annomyous 4

Ash Flat, AR

#15 Nov 9, 2012
To "dick" cool story bro shouldn't you be getting back to world of war craft right now
Dick

Euless, TX

#16 Nov 9, 2012
Ill stick with cowboys and injuns.
I like to fight savages that are losers!!!
midnight

Horseshoe Bend, AR

#17 Nov 9, 2012
dick you are a loser because the Indians has a hell of a lot more than you will ever think about having.Dick if you want to fight savages and losers join the military and go to some foriegn country and fight like you really mean it. YOU ARE A BIG LOSER.YOU COULDN'T FIGHT YOURSELF OUT OF A WET PAPER BAG.YOU ARE JUST TAKING UP AIR HERE.dick head you don't have to respond to me because you are wasting your time. i just told you what you can do so just go do it and get lost while you are gone. goodby dickhead.

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#19 Nov 12, 2012
Hey Dick I am not hiding who I am I am glad and proud of my mother's heritage, you got a prob you know where I live.
Dick

United States

#20 Nov 12, 2012
I don't know you. Any more than I knew your sqaw ho mom.
lol

Jonesboro, AR

#21 Nov 12, 2012
Dickhead wants to run his mouth off with every topix he reads all day every day so he must be a welfare case with nothing better to do, so sad..lol

“Wodige Digatoli ale Awanita.”

Since: Jan 08

Equa Vdali

#22 Nov 12, 2012
Dick wrote:
I don't know you. Any more than I knew your sqaw ho mom.
Then you must not be from Manila, and Sir I use that term lightly you think you get under my skin, by calling my mom a squaw ho, no sir and learn to spell it(Squaw not sqaw)....My mother taught me well she passed in 84 and she was a very respected woman. So if you do not know me, you really have no basis for you comments.

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker
First Prev
of 4
Next Last

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Manila Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
Porkey Pete 55 min Sue 4
your so blind 8 hr Man 6
shake my head 12 hr agreed 7
Valerie Cooper 21 hr Fukkoff 4
Smelly Shelly (Perrin) Kelly. Sat John Bolt 2
Gas price gouging in Manila, Monette, and Leach... Sat Victor 2
junk yard on olympia Fri old neighbor 2
More from around the web

Personal Finance

Manila Mortgages