Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to the Code Talkers
Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to the Code Talkers

Navajo Code Talkers World War II Fact Sheet
  • Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima: the Navajo code talkers took part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945.
    • They served in all six Marine divisions, Marine Raider battalions and Marine parachute units, transmitting messages by telephone and radio in their native language a code that the Japanese never broke.

The Navajo language is very complicated, it does not even have an alphabet.
  • Instead, it is made up of syntax and tones. It requires extensive lessons, taught by one of the native speakers.
  • During WWII, the Marines were looking for the best form of code to prevent their messages from being intercepted.
  • They had machines that could encode, transmit, and decode a 3 line English message, but it only took a Navajo 20 seconds to do the same with their language.
    • Therefore, the Marines began enlisting members of the Navajo tribe as code talkers.
      • About 540 Navajos enlisted during WWII, and up to 420 of them worked as code talkers at some point during the war.

The Navajo Code Talkers and the Unbreakable Code, Central Intelligence Agency

Multimedia.pngLink here for a short video explaining the importance of the code talkers.

Navajo Code Talkers, Saipan, June 1944
Navajo Code Talkers, Saipan, June 1944

Link here to visit the Navajo Code Talkers Museumto learn about the efforts of these Native Americans in creating a military communication code based on the Navajo language that the Japanese forces could not break.

primary_sources.PNGPrimary Sources

This is a site from the National Archives that has a document regarding the enlistment of Navajo for the purpose of transmitting coded messages.

Indigneous Voices of the Colorado Plateau: Navajo Code Talkers, an online exhibit from Northern Arizona University has documents and images

Navajo Code Talkers' Dictionary

Native Words, Native Warriors from Institute of Texan Cultures

First Navajo code-talker recruits being sworn in, Fort Wingate, NM
First Navajo code-talker recruits being sworn in, Fort Wingate, NM

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.31.08 AM.pngTeaching Resources

Click here for a lesson plan on the enlistment of the Navajo code talkers from the National Archives.

Click here for resources on the code talkers from the Arizona State Museum.

rotating gif.gifGo to United States History II.15 for more on World War II

Culper Spy Ring during the American Revolution

The Culper Code Book was used by the Culper Spy Ring to send messages to George Washington's headquarters during the American Revolution