TAKE ON TOPICS
The first code talkers were either full blood or mixed blood Choctaw Indians. They were all born in the Indian Territory, which is now Southeastern Oklahoma. Albert Billy, a full-blood Choctaw born in Howe was one of the 19 known code talkers. Billy was a member of the 36th Division, Company E. Mr. Billy lived from 1885 to 1958.
Little was known about the secret code talkers after World War I. The earliest mention of them was in 1928 in an Oklahoma City newspaper referring to their unusual activities.
The Germans were very efficient at breaking our codes. So when Colonel A. W. Bloor overheard Choctaw Indians talking to each other, he devised a plan. They experimented using the Choctaw Language in place of military code. This was successful and later a captured German officer confirmed that “they were completely confused by the Indian language and gained no benefit whatsoever” from their wiretaps. Choctaws were placed in each company of soldiers to send or transmit it. There was some difficulty where Choctaw words didn’t exist. One example was the machine gun. But the Choctaw’s improvised using the words “big gun”.
The Choctaws actually didn’t refer to themselves as code talkers. The phrase came about during or after World War II. The Navajo code talkers of World War II became famous in the Hollywood movie a few years ago.
The Navajo have had a history of opposing the United States in war. This is probably why they have been more popular in documentaries and books. The Choctaws on the other hand were a quieter and more orderly group. The Choctaws had adopted the American style constitution and government complete with elections and separation of powers in the early 19th century.
The Choctaw government awarded the code talkers with the Choctaw Medal of Valor at a special ceremony in 1986. Then France in 1989 awarded the Fifth Republic’s Knight of the National Order of Merit to the Choctaw Code Talkers.
In 1985 the Choctaw War Memorial was erected at the Choctaw Capital Building in Tuskahoma. There is a huge section of granite dedicated to the Choctaw Code Talkers.
I would hate to think how things would be different today without the Choctaw Code Talkers. If you have never been to the Choctaw Capital it is a beautiful time of the year for a visit.
Until next week…