2. Navajo code talkers
a. World War II
b. After the war
3. The Navajo dictionary
Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary to the Navajo Indians, was one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently. In fact, he lived with his family on the Navajo reservation (www.history.navy.mil).
A World War I veteran, Johnston knew about the military’s tireless efforts trying to develop a code which the enemy would not be able to break. He was aware of the fact that Choctaw, which is a Native American language, had been used in World War I to encode messages. This is when he realized that the answer for secure communications for the military was the use of the Navajo language. Johnston believed that the Navajo language, with some minor changes, would satisfy the military’s requirement for an undecipherable code, mainly because Navajo is an unwritten language, making it particularly complex. The fact that the Navajo language has no alphabet or symbols makes it next to impossible to learn without extensive exposure and training. After careful research, the government had confirmed that neither Germans nor the Japanese had studied this language. The same research found that only 30 non-Navajo natives could understand the language which was only spoken in the American Southwest on Navajo lands (www.lapahie.com).
2. Navajo Code Talkers
In 1942, Philip Johnston met with Major General Clayton B. Vogel, the commanding general of Amphibious Corps Pacific fleet. This was Johnston’s’ chance to demonstrate the Navajo language and its alternate use for military code. He staged a combat like test to simulate the code talkers in battle. He confirmed to the Major General that the Navajos could encode, transmit and decode a three line English message in 20 seconds. This was much faster and more efficient than the 30 minutes that it required the military code breaking machines to complete the same task. This...