Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day Blog: Choctaw Code Talkers of World War One

If you went to public school in California and other states of the Union, you might have heard about the Navaho "Code Talkers" who served in the Pacific Theater during the Second World War. The Japanese forces were confounded by the language of these Native Americans who would convey messages over radio communication between tribal members in the Army and Marine Corps to other Navaho fighters. The combat communications were then translated into English and used to advantage by the overall US forces.

While the Navaho and some other tribal members have been given at least some recognition via schools, books, articles, and at least one major American film "Codetalkers" with Nicolas Cage, there is another amazing story about Native Americans and "code talking" . This story concerns the Choctaw people, one of the tribes who were routed from their homeland in the 1830's by the whites in the American South and the Andrew Jackson administration in Washington.

The men. women and children were force marched hundreds of miles to "Indian Territory" (now called Oklahoma) with the Cherokee, Chhicasaw and other peoples. Many did not survive. Those that were left lost even more land when the whites decades later decided Oklahoma was a food place for farms and oil wells.

The United States humiliated, killed and dispossessed their ancestors and largely regarded people like the Choctaw as curiosities, savages , and second-class people. And yet, when war came in 1917, they were asked to help serve "their country". And they did.


  1. Thank you for this post Doug. This story is near to my heart as I am half Choctaw on my mother's side. I first heard of the Choctaw code talkers just a few years ago when I started doing some research through the Choctaw Nation website. I knew very little about my mother's people as she passed away when I was only 10 years old and we did not get to see my family down in Oklahoma after that. I lived in Indiana which was my father's home state.

  2. My pleasure, Perfect. I only found out about this part of the Choctaw history very recently.