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Code Talkers

The Forgotten Heroes of WWI and WWII

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Native Americans served in WWII.

Not only were the fighting bigotry and racism from a bunch of people on their own land, but they also fought the war of the people that oppressed them.

That’s right boys and girls, Native Americans fought in WWII; they were called Code Talkers.

Code Talker History

Incase you don’t know code talking is the practice of using Native American languages as military code. The German Forces proved to speak English, sometimes better than most english speakers, and they broke American Military codes.


Colonel A. W. Bloor, noticed American Indians, one day, serving with him in the 142nd Infantry. He just so happened to be in the right place and the right time. He overhear two Choctaw

Indians speaking with one another. Soon realising he doesn’t speak their language therefore not understanding them, he tested and used a code. With the cooperation of his Choctaw soldiers the Choctaw was used as military code. More than 12,000 American Indians served in World War, due to the fact that Americans really didn’t like Native Americans, that was about 25 percent of the male American Indian population at that time.

October 26th, 1918, that’s right, 1918 was the first combat test. Bloor ordered for the withdrawal of the 2nd Battalion. It proved to be successful when a captured German officer said that he was confused and not understand the code.

“The enemy’s complete surprised is evidence that he could not decipher the messages”, Bloor observed in his official report.

This opened the door for other Choctaws to be in each company because messages could be shouted right in the enemy’s face, but the message still wouldn’t be heard. So the US used Choctaw to be the official code.

However when the Native Americans got back they were no longer seen as war veterans, but seen as wow-look-at-these-no-good-indians-on-MY-land kind of way. Only in Oklahoma City, 1928, did the newspaper describe their heroism as ‘unusual activities.’


To prepare for WWII, Germany and Japan sent students to the United States to study Native American languages and cultures which included Cherokee, Choctaw, and the Comanche. It was Dec. 7th, Pearl Harbor that catapulted our nation into war.

Philip Johnston, who was a engineer for Los Angeles, proposed the Navajos native tongue to the US Marine Corps. The veteran, WWI, was raised on a reservation and was one of the few non-Navajo who spoke the language.

“So we start talking about different things, animals, sea creatures, birds, eagles, hawks, and all those domestic animals. Why don’t we use those names of different animals—from A to Z. So A, we took a red ant that we live with all the time. B we took a bear, Yogi the Bear, C a Cat, D a Dog, E an Elk, F, Fox, G, a goat and so on down the line.” said Chester Nez, Navajo Code Talker, National Museum of the American Indian interview, 2004

The Navajo were sent everywhere, but mostly in Japan to fight in WWII.
There it was critical for the message to be secret or else they would lose the battle affecting how many lives were saved.

“The commanding officer, they give you a message that’s written. It’s just short talking about how much ammunition and certain map area that Marines are getting killed. They need more machine gun ammunition. You translate that as small as you can.” said John Brown, Jr., Navajo Code Talker, National Museum of the American Indian interview, 2004


The Native Americans were awarded Purple Hearts, Distinguished Flying Crosses, Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, Air Medals, Distinguished Service Crosses, and three Congressional Medals of Honor- the highest military award granted in the country.

Most went back to their reserve because they enjoyed what they had and because the urban life didn’t appeal to them.

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