Wind Talkers Code Talkers

I am writing this post after reading this article titled Code Talkers Have Served The Military Well–And Often Secretly and not long after I purchased (by chance) one of my favorite movies titled “Wind Talkers.”

I never heard the term Wind Talkers before until this movie came out. The movie came out in 2002. The correct term is “Code Talker.” I am not sure why or how Hollywood came up with the title “Wind Talker” but nobody ever said Hollywood articulately and correctly portrays history 100% of the time. I thought about why this title was chosen and I came up with 2 possible reasons:

1) They weren’t allowed to use “Code Talkers”
2) The irony with the Code Talkers is that they were not recognized/honored for their work from 1989 until 2008 (where according to the above article link, the US just passed a Code Talkers Recognition Act to honor remaining Code Talkers of both World Wars). So maybe, the title signifies that their service/work was just figuratively speaking “blown” away (in other words, unrecognized). (Hmmmm I don’t know but if anyone who reads this has another interpretation–by all means share in comments below)

But this movie, Wind Talkers, is a good movie. I mean, besides the title, it shows the inner-conflict between the Native and non-Native marines and some of the obstacles that both possibly had to overcome. What I like about it best is that it shows Adam Beach’s character (one of the Code Talkers) being somewhat of a comic but serious all at the same time. It’s sort of a subtle humor without taking away of the seriousness of the actual bigger story line of the importance of the Code Talkers during the World War II yet the little recognition or respect that they failed to receive. (This movie highlights the Code Talkers of WWII; however, Code Talkers were used in both World Wars.)

Not too many people know about these Native men and their important contributions to both World Wars. The “code” that Code Talkers had spoken/developed was never cracked. According to the Official Site of the Navajo Code Talkers, it was also considered a “secret too important” to divulge. The Navajo Code Talkers were also sworn to secrecy, as noted in the initial article mentioned. The Navajo code was developed by 29 Navajo men known as “The Original 29,” where 600 words were used within the code. On the Official Site of The Navajo Code Talkers, you can visit their page called The Code to view some of the Navajo words used and their English translation.

I did a search of Navajo Code Talkers at my university library (online of course) and I was able to find an entire Navajo Code Talkers’ Dictionary. I don’t know if anyone without an account to this library can find this dictionary online but I suggest you at least try to. It was interesting to see some of the words and what they translated to in the Navajo language but what they were used during the War. Some of the words that I found interesting were:

Navajo Word in English Translation Code word
Dog is patch Dispatch
Deer ice strict District
Small dummy Dud
Big dummy dummy

You can see that they had to know the English Language, or at least develop words that would make sense or sound like the English word for the Code. Like the word “District” when translated from the Navajo language, it’s literal translation is “Deer ice strict.” Say “Deer ice strict” really fast 3x and you will eventually come up with “district.” Interesting.

I know that this history is mostly part of American History, but I wish they would teach it in Canadian History. These Code Talkers had their land first taken from them when white settlers arrived, then forced to live on reservations and then just like in Canada, denied the right to continue to speak their language or practice their culture. Then, after all that, it is their own language (the same one they were denied to speak) that saves the very same country that stole their land from losing a World War a million miles away. Ironic or no?

I hope that one day that stories of history are taught in classrooms, whether they are American or Canadian classrooms, so that others are more aware of the contributions that First Nations people have made to significant historical events. Even though original Code Talkers were sworn to secrecy and some have them have honored this, as noted in the same initial article, schools are not sworn to secrecy of historical contributes of First Nations people–in fact they should at least start telling the real truth regarding the history of North America.

You can see in this picture that I taken at the last youth gathering I attended, one of the youth whose name is seen in the picture (Quinn Meawasige) wrote the following words,

Incorporate an accurate history in Ontario/Canadian curriculum about the true history of Native peoples to create awareness among non-Native students. This way there will be a better understanding of First Nations people.

All I gotta say is, “Well put Quinn!” and I completely agree!

Check out the following links to read more about the Code Talkers

  • Navajo Code Talkers
  • Code Talkers Have Served The Military Well–And Often Secretly
  • National Museum of The American Indian: Code Talkers
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