Navajo Nation celebrated Code Talkers Day 8-07

Window Rock, Arizona (AP) - The Navajo Nation celebrated Code Talkers Day as a tribal holiday for the first time Aug. 14.

“There are a lot of people on the reservation, and a lot of people off the (Navajo) Nation that want an opportunity to honor the Code Talkers in their own way,” said Michael Smith, clerk at the Navajo Nation Supreme Court and the Window Rock liaison for the National Code Talkers Association.

“This day provides an opportunity for people to step forward and honor these men,” said Smith, whose father, Samuel Jesse Smith, was a Code Talker.

The Code Talkers were an elite group of Navajo Marines who confounded the Japanese during World War II by transmitting messages in their native language.

There were 29 original Code Talkers, but several hundred Navajos served as Code Talkers during the war.

After the war, they were told to keep their work a secret. The information was declassified in 1968, but the Code Talkers were still reluctant to discuss or take credit for their deeds.

The Code Talkers’ achievements have never been matched, Smith said.

“To use a native language to create a code and use that in battle and have it never broken or deciphered by an enemy is a remarkable achievement,” he said. “Generals and commanders credit the code talkers for saving hundreds of lives.”

The Navajo Nation Council voted 56-0 in favor of the Code Talker holiday last December.