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Indigenous Voices of the Colorado Plateau

Navajo Code Talkers

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The son of a missionary to the Navajo and a fluent Navajo speaker, Philip Johnston came up with an idea for secure military communications in 1942. Johnston recognized the value of Navajo as an unwritten, complex language and promoted its potential to serve as an undecipherable code. The Navy supported creation and adoption of a Navajo code.

An elite group of approximately 400 Navajo Marines trained to be Code Talkers between 1942 and 1945. The group served in the Pacific Theater with honor and courage. Major Howard Connor, a 5th Marine Division signal officer, claimed "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima." The Japanese never cracked the code. The U.S. Congress as well as Hollywood recently celebrated the WWII contributions of the Code Talkers.

Based on research by: Alexander Molnar Jr., U.S. Marine Corps/U.S. Army (Ret.)

Digital Resources
Navajo Code Talkers - Documents
Navajo Code Talkers - Images

Navajo Code Talkers FAQs


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