Last Updated: 17 years On March 5, the Arizona Senate passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 1010 urging Congress to establish a new postage stamp honoring three groups of veterans who fought bravely for our country: The Tuskegee Airmen, the
Japanese American soldiers and the Navajo Code Talkers.
In a quest to honor those who have not been adequately recognized for their honor and bravery, this proposed legislation has one dishonorable flaw: It excludes the other 16 Native American tribes who sent men to serve as Code Talkers in World War I and World War II, including the Hopi Tribe from Arizona.
Here are the facts:
• More than 44,000 Indian men enlisted in the armed forces, many of whom served as Code Talkers in Europe and in the Pacific Islands. This occurred even though American Indians were not granted citizenship until 1924.
• The first Native American Indian tribal members who served as Code Talkers were the Choctaws in World War I.
• While it is widely known that the U.S. Marine Corps enlisted members from the Navajo Nation to serve as radio operators in 1942, other Native American tribes were called to serve in this capacity as well.
• In fact, more than 17 tribes in all made immeasurable Code Talker contributions to the war effort. Thes include the Choctaw, Comanche, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Osage, Yankton Sioux, Chippewa, Creek, Hopi, Kiowa, Menominee, Muscogee-Seminole, Navajo, Oneida, Pawnee, Sac and Fox and the Sioux from both the Lakota and Dakota dialects.
• The Smithsonian Institution, through extensive research conducted over many years, established the statements above.
• The Smithsonian Institution entered into Code Talker research at the request of the Navajo Nation. When it was found that there was more extensive Native American representation as Code Talkers, including the Hopi, the Navajo Nation supported the Smithsonian in widening their research to include all Code Talkers.
• The Smithsonian Institution unveiled a traveling exhibit on Native American Code Talkers March 2, in Albuquerque. That exhibit reflects the extensive research as referenced above. The exhibit will come to Phoenix in October 2007
• Our enemies were unable to decode any of the Native American languages.
• There were 11 Hopi men who served as official Code Talkers during World War II, documented by the U.S. Department of Defense. The philosophy of Hopi is not to seek recognition for personal benefit, but this particular
issue is important for the sake of U.S. history.
On behalf of the Hopi Tribe and in honor of the other tribes who sent men to be Code Talkers during two world wars, we urge the Arizona House of Representatives to turn down this factually incorrect proposal.
It seems like a small thing – to create a new postage stamp. However, such an act flies in the face of our country’s history and is demeaning to the many brave Indian men who served in this capacity.
The solution to this problem is very simple: The Arizona Legislature should send a historically correct message to Congress: Honor all of the Native American Code Talkers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Phillip R. Quochytewa III is the nephew of the last living Hopi Code Talker, Travis Yaiva.