WWII: Navajo Code Talkers

In the United States, we tend to be most successful when we go about something in a seemingly unconventional way. After all, that is the basis with which we won our independence, and thus it’s only natural that unusual methods would ultimately be the key to winning future wars as well. Ironically, after years of oppression and attempting to cleanse the country of Natives, in WWII, they proved to be our unconventional key to winning thew war. In WWII, 30 Navajo went from being considered a relatively low-cost experiment to an indispensable secret weapon of the war effort. Through the beginning of the war, our military’s codes were being interpreted almost as quickly as they were created because the Japanese knew our language and colloquialisms extremely well as many of them had been educated in the United States. When Philip Johnston proposed the idea of using the native Navajo language as a code virtually unbreakable do to it’s incomprehensibility, his peers were skeptical unit they saw just how strong the natives were in both their language and marine mentality. In a trial experiment with just four Natives, Major General Clayton Vogel realized this method was sure to be a success and immediately ordered for 200 Navajo to serve as communications specialists in the Marines. However, as some in higher-power were still skeptical of combining forces with the natives, the Major General was only given 30 Navajo. Regardless, it wouldn’t take long for the entire military to realize that not only were the Navajo helpful, they were our secret weapon. They developed a two-part code which used a translation of american words into Native words. Overall, during the war, respect for Natives greatly increased, but this cultural shift did not hold after the war. The position of this piece is to both explain the significant role the Navajo played during WWII as well as to point out the lack of respect and credit they were given afterward, implying the depth of the racist feelings imbedded in our country. The audience this is directed towards is anyone interested in WWII history and/or native culture combining with white culture in America.I see this piece contributing to my work as I want to focus on the historical role of natives in the military, and this piece gives a very strong insight to the native role in WWII.

“World War II: Navajo Code Talkers.” Historynet.com. N.p., 12 June 2006. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-navajo-code-talkers.htm&gt;.


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