Navajo Code Talkers Day
National Navajo Code Talkers Day is August 14. This holiday honors the contributions of Native Americans / First Nations people who contributed to the United States war effort during World War Two, as well as recognizing the evolution of U.S. code related to Native American languages and the participation of First Nations tribe members in U.S. military efforts from many conflicts.
National Navajo Code Talkers Day will next be observed on Friday, August 14, 2020.
The story of the Navajo code talkers is complex. Some object to the name of the holiday, mistakenly believing that Navajo tribe members are singled out for the distinction at the expense of other tribes that participated in this war effort.
But the name of the holiday refers not to the Navajo tribe itself, but is a broader term that refers to the “Navajo code” used to fool Axis powers including the Nazis and Japanese Imperial forces. Learn more about that process below.
President Ronald Reagan established Navajo Code Talkers Day in 1982, and the holiday honors all the tribes associated with the war effort including (but not limited to):
The Navajo code depended on the complexity of the Navajo language as well as further encoding the messages (depending on when and where they were sent). These combined factors rendered it impossible to break as a code, and some sources report it is one of the few, possibly the only “code” used by the U.S. military, that was never broken during the conflicts it was used in.
A Brief History Of Code Talking
The “Navajo Code” grew out of conflicts that saw many Native Americans serve from a variety of different tribes.
Some sources report one of the earliest uses by the United States military of a First Nations language to code military communications can be found in World War One history, when the language of the Choctaw tribe was used to code messages related to a surprise attack on German forces.
The official site of the Central Intelligence Agency includes a news story about code talkers which indicates that future Axis powers Japan and Germany would send people to the United States in the aftermath of World War One specifically to study such languages. That would create headaches for war planners in the next World War.
Believe it or not, the fact that German and Japanese students came to America to study these languages made federal officials nervous; could a Native American language still be safely used to code military communications?