During WWII a select group of young Navajo men enlisted in the Marines with a unique weapon. Using the Navajo language, they devised a secret code that the enemy never deciphered. For over 40 years a cloak of secrecy hung over the Code Talker’s service until the code was declassified and they were finally honored for their military contributions in the South Pacific by Presidents Reagan, Bush, and the Navajo Nation. The Code Talkers’ cultural background, how the code was devised and used, photos, and how Navajo spiritual beliefs were used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) form this presentation.
Laura Tohe is Diné. She is Sleepy Rock clan born for the Bitter Water clan. She holds a Ph.D. in Indigenous American Literature. A librettist and an award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Making Friends with Water (chapbook), Sister Nations (edited), Tséyi, Deep in the Rock, and Code Talker Stories (oral history). Her commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio made its world premiere in 2008 and was performed by The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. She is Professor with Distinction in Indigenous Literature at Arizona State University.