The WWII Navajo Code Talkers

Navajo code talkers are communication operators using natural language code for verbal data transmission. The most systematic preparations were made during the First and Second World Wars by Native American radio cryptographers, which is known in connection with the removal of the secrecy bar in 1968. They used the unknowingness of their language outside their ethnic groups, further replacing meaningful words based on officially or unofficially developed code.

In the popular culture, the most famous are Navajo code talkers, specially recruited and prepared by the US Army Marine Corps for fighting against Japan in the Pacific theater of operations during World War II and they were numerically superior to the rest of the cryptographers. Also, known code talkers are from the Native American tribes of the Cherokee and other tribes.

Their achievements were recognized due to the fact that there were almost no cases of message security being breached. Thus, the idea matured by implementing the encryption approach by actively recruiting new Navajo and other Native American tribe members. There was some form of discrimination and non-acceptance among white Americans, but the overall high value of code talkers was realized. The code was mostly based on 411 Navajo language words, which allowed to code important messages, for example, the word “toh-dine-ih” meant sea force or ships.

In 1932, 15 Navajo men were responsible for their first success as code talkers and there are no recorded cases of major failures. Navajos were especially distinguished, of which it is most known and written and the language of which German and Japanese cryptographers could not decrypt at all. The idea of using the Navajo language was proposed by Philip Johnson, the son of a missionary who lived in Navajo. The language was extraordinarily complex, and, most importantly, it did not have a written language. The difficulty was the lack of necessary words in the Navajo language that had to be invented.

Navajo radio operators were first used at the end of 1942 on Guadalcanal, and later there were Okinawa and Iwo Jima. If it weren’t for the Navajo, the Americans would never have taken Iwo Jima and the detachments had 6 Navajo radio operators who worked around the clock in the first two days of the battle, sending and receiving more than 800 messages without a single mistake. Native Indians were among those who hoisted the flag of victory over Iwo Jima. Indians in their inclinations, cultural characteristics and in the light of the current historical situation are called upon to fight.

This is their special, distinctive quality and it is not some form of uniqueness because similar cases in history are known, for example, Spartans, Romans, Germans and many other peoples at certain stages in the development of their history. The participation of Indians in the wars of the XX century is due to a complex set of reasons – traditional cultural motives, such as the culture of war, the cultural influence of Europeans, economic factors, and primordial patriotism.

Thus, the American war effort was significantly boosted by the code talkers, because the training did not require a lot of time and resources due to Navajo men being already capable of speaking in their language. Encryption leaders view these first steps of encryption as an origin the entire field, where the basic idea of coding the message in secure manner was manifested.

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