While formally recruited groups of Native American code talkers used in World War II, such as the Navajo, Comanche, and later the Meskwaki and Hopi, are well known, this article focuses on the incidental use of Native Americans in U.S. Armed Forces communications in both world wars. This essay documents several instances in which the presence of Native American soldiers within the same or nearby units who spoke a common native language was discovered by accident, either by their commanding officers or by the members themselves, and their subsequent use in sending military communications in their respective tribal languages. These data add to the breadth of our knowledge of Native American code talking and the essay explores the context for the development of such opportunities, which, although they involved fewer men and perhaps less frequency of use, involved more tribes than formally developed code-talking programs.
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Research Article| April 01 2009
William C. Meadows; “They Had a Chance to Talk to One Another...”: The Role of Incidence in Native American Code Talking. Ethnohistory 1 April 2009; 56 (2): 269–284. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2008-058
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