This commemorative month aims to provide a platform for Native people in the US to share their culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance, and ways and concepts of life.
American Indians have contributed significantly to the defense of our nation. During the Civil War, 20,000 American Indians served with Union forces both at sea and on the land. During World War I, although ineligible for the draft, 15,000 American Indians volunteered to fight in the Great War.
In World War II, 44,000 fought with distinction, including 1,910 in the Navy and 874 in the Marines. Some of these Native Americans included those known as code talkers, which were persons employed by the military during wartime to use a little-known language as a means of secret communication. The term is now usually associated with United States service members during the world wars who used their knowledge of Native American languages as a basis to transmit coded messages. In particular, there were approximately 400 to 500 Native Americans in the United States Marine Corps whose primary job was to transmit secret tactical messages. Code talkers transmitted messages over military telephone or radio communications nets using formally or informally developed codes built upon their native languages. The code talkers improved the speed of encryption and decryption of communications in front line operations during World War II.
There were two code types used during World War II. Type one codes were formally developed based on the languages of the Comanche, Hopi, Meskwaki, and Navajo peoples. They used words from their languages for each letter of the English alphabet. Messages could be encoded and decoded by using a simple substitution cipher where the ciphertext was the native language word. Type two code was informal and directly translated from English into the native language. If there was no word in the native language to describe a military word, code talkers used descriptive words. For example, the Navajo did not have a word for submarine so they translated it to iron fish.
The name code talker is strongly associated with bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the US Marine Corps to serve in their standard communications units of the Pacific theater. Code talking, however, was pioneered by the Cherokee and Choctaw peoples during World War I.
Other Native American code talkers were deployed by the United States Army during World War II, including Lakota, Meskwaki, Mohawk, Comanche, Tlingit, Hopi, Cree and Crow soldiers; they served in the Pacific, North African, and European theaters.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 American Indians fought in the Korean War and more than 42,000 during Vietnam. In 1966, South Carolina Cherokee Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class James E. Williams, while serving at South Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, killed an unknown number of enemy forces while destroying 65 vessels and disrupting an enemy logistic operation. Williams was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the three-hour battle against Viet Cong guerrillas with the two riverine patrol boats he commanded.
Today more than 190,000 American Indians call themselves veterans.
The James Tull Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, thank all of our Native American brothers and sisters who have served, fought, and made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the nation in every branch of our military services. Our thank you is a small offering to your great sacrifices.
In commemoration, our Mayor, Merle D. Aaron, has joined other cities, States and Federal organizations across America in proclaiming November Native American Heritage Month in Humble, Texas and encourage all citizens to recognize and celebrate with the James Tull Chapter, NSDAR, the collective bravery and shared sacrifice of our nation’s Native Americans.