What is a Code Talker?
During World War I and World war II, Native American soldiers spoke their language over the radio freely, relaying top secret information. The German and Japanese enemies were not able to decipher the coded messages.
In our nation’s history, the most well known code talkers are Navajo. During WWII, a small group of Navajo soldiers developed a code using the Navajo language and then they trained other soldiers. So, if someone were fluent in Navajo but didn’t know “the code”, then the messages wouldn’t make much sense. Overall, there were over 400 Navajo Code Talkers in WWII. Many years afte rthe war, code talking was declassified, so people could talk about their duties. There were many surviving Navajo Code Talkers and their stories began to be told.
This opened the door for other Native veterans from other tribes who also served as code talkers. They felt they could tell their code-talking stories, too.
To date, we now know there were code talkers from at least 33 different tribes. For example, the Choctaw and Sioux had men that served as code talkers in WWI. Then, because of its successful use at the end of the WWI, the strategy spread across the European and Pacific Theaters. Code-talking group ranged from two men relaying messages to 20 or 30 men in the group, much smaller in number compared to the Navajo. And, code talking occurred in two ways:
- using the language to speak conversationally
- using a code within a code
The code talkers often traveled beyond the safe perimeter and into enemy territory to gather information and report back to headquarters.
For more detailed, military information about all Code Talkers, read my friend’s book. Dr. William C. Meadows wrote The Comanche Code Talkers of World War II. Today, Dr. Meadows continues to research and interview people, collecting information on all code talking groups to keep our nation’s history updated.
Great News- My book Sioux Code Talkers of World War II is coming soon! Click here for more details.