Code Talkers

Questions for Reflection

  1. How did the use of code talkers in World War I contribute to the Allied forces' success?
  2. What challenges did the code talkers face in developing and implementing their codes?
  3. How did the code talkers' use of indigenous languages effectively confuse enemy intelligence efforts?
  4. In what ways did the code talkers' role in World War I revolutionize the field of military communication?
  5. How did the recognition and appreciation of code talkers' contributions evolve over time and impact indigenous communities?


On November 15, President George W. Bush signed The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008, recognizing every Native American code talker who served in the United States military during World War I or World War II (except for the already-awarded Navajo soldiers) with a Congressional Gold Medal.

Under the Act, gold medals are struck for each Native American tribe that had a member who served as a code talker. The Gold Medal was held by the Smithsonian Institution.  Silver duplicate medals were presented to the specific code talkers, their next of kin, or other personal representatives. Bronze duplicates became available for sale to the public from the U.S. Mint.

Choctaw Nation Congressional Gold Medal (front).jpgMemo from WWII Commander General Vogel to the Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, Re: Enlistment of Navahos for Use in Coded Communications

March 6, 1942. 

Vogel notes that the Navajo was the only tribe that had not yet been infiltrated by Germans posing as students, art dealers, and anthropologists in order to study the various tribal dialects of American Indians.