During WWII a group of young Navajo men enlisted in the Marines without knowing that they would be called on to develop a secret code against the Japanese military. This select group of Code Talkers devised a Navajo language code that was accurate, quick, never broken, and saved many American lives. This talk profiles four Code Talkers who reflect on their lives growing up on the Navajo Nation homeland before and after the war, including my father. They returned home without fanfare to continued poverty and lack of economic opportunity, yet persevered and overcame obstacles that helped change the Navajo Nation and their communities. They tell their stories with poignancy that reflect their resiliency and self-determination. A power point presentation accompanies this talk.
This program is cohosted by Tempe Public Library. This is an in-person event.
Laura Tohe is Diné and the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate. She is Sleepy Rock People clan and born for the Bitter Water People clan and the daughter of a Navajo Code Talker. She published 3 books of poetry, an anthology of Native women’s writing and an oral history on the Navajo Code Talkers. Her librettos, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio (2008) and Nahasdzáán in the Glittering World (2021), performed in Arizona and France, respectively. Among her awards are the 2020 Academy of American Poetry Fellowship and the 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers Award. She is Professor Emerita with Distinction from ASU.