Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Native American Code Talkers: Life before the Code

Native American Code Talkers: Life before the Code

Nadine Duchaine

This paper goes to explore Native American code talkers during World War II and the adverse effects boarding school regulations had upon them. The highly-classified project was a strategic defensive movement used on the Pacific front but indirectly used on the European. The code talkers and Native American enlisted had been forcibly confined to government boarding schools before their military service. The military setting in boarding schools crafted rebellion against the extermination of their culture and language. The code talkers who attended boarding schools who engaged in a form of rebellion, developed a code with the use of their language to give aid to a government that attempted to eradicate that language. Autobiographies and first hand accounts from former boarding school pupils are used in order gain perspective on the traumas and eradicate attempts from the government run boarding schools. Military records will provide insight into the need and use of native languages for the ambition of the war. The recruitment of Native Americans from around the country and the members of the Navajo tribe will provide details into how many native enlisted were encouraged towards the Marine branch and the code talker program and those specifically sought out on the reservation. The methods of reservation recruitment are essential in order to gain knowledge into the full impact of boarding school affects upon native youth. The lasting affects of boarding schools upon tribes whose male members served in World War II will explore the adverse and negative effects left.

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April 6, 2017 - Posted by | abstract

1 Comment »

  1. It truly is ironic that the very government who imprisoned these indigenous Americans in the boarding schools attempting to eradicate their language and culture then encouraged them to use their language for military operations. I’m sure reading through the first hand accounts of the boarding schools was quite tragic and depressing. But the value of understanding the totality of the physical and psychological conditions of these indigenous Americans really shed light on the fullness of the issue. Did you use accounts of Native Americans from just the United States or did you included Canada as well? Because I know Canada is going through a massive class action lawsuit against the government of Canada due to the atrocities experienced in the boarding schools, that fortunately the Native Americans won. They have many many pages of reconciliation accounts that played a major part of the lawsuit that can be found online. If you haven’t already used this source I think it would further add to your dataset.
    Were the Navajo the only code talkers or were there more nations involved in the code talking program in WWII?
    I know Winona Laduke, an Anishinaabe activist/author, has written about and discusses the aspects of intergenerational trauma in regards to the psychological effects of colonization, assimilation, and boarding schools have had an effect on indigenous peoples. Do you discuss this intergenerational trauma as well? Because I definitely think it goes hand in hand with the issues surrounding PTSD experienced by veterans.
    Sounds like an interesting and important look into the not so often thought of history behind the code talkers.

    Comment by Josh Wolford | April 17, 2017 | Reply


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