Coded Contributions: Navajo Talkers and the Pacific War
Like all peoples, the Navajo Indians date their past by important events. Where the average United States citizen starts with the Mayflower and marks off the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, two world wars and the Great Depression, the major events within the Navajo historical framework are more recent – the Long Walk of 1863-68, when more than 8,000 Navajos were forcibly relocated to a concentration camp in the New Mexico territory, the Livestock Reduction and the Second World War. The first two are purely negative events characterised by incomprehensible suffering and hardship, but the Second World War has a special place in Navajo histories.
The men who served as the Second World War Code Talkers have about them today the aura of heroes because their accomplishments seem to erase the lack of worth that has generally been attributed to Indian culture by the dominant society, and because the recognition accorded these men is seen, in small measure, as compensation for the demeaning treatment of Navajos during the Long Walk and Stock Reduction.
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