Native Americans were used as code talkers in both the First and Second World Wars.
Code talking is most associated with the Navajo code talkers of World War II, but the Choctaw,
Chippewa and Oneidas tribes also helped in both of the wars. During World War I the Germans and their allies had broken every code that the U.S. military came up with, both mathematical based and the codes based on European languages. The army also tried using runners, one in four were captured, and birds, who were often shot down. There was no successful way to deliver codes until Captain Lawrence decided to try code talkers. During the First World War, in 1917, Native Americans were not considered American citizens and did not receive citizenship in all 50 states until 1954. Despite not being considered citizens, the Choctaw tribe volunteered to fight in the war because they felt that even though they were not considered citizens this was their home, their country and they wanted to defend it.
While on an Army base Captain Lawrence overheard Choctaw soldiers speaking in their native language and realized that he had no idea what they were saying. He came up with the idea of using the Choctaw native language to create a code. The first problem with using the Choctaw language was that the language did not have words for many English military terms, such as grenade, artillery and casualty. Words were improvised to create a code within a code. For the military word artillery code talkers used their words for big gun
, they referred to grenades as stones and used the word scalp to mean casualties . After only two weeks, the tides of the war had changed and the United States had pulled ahead. Many historians believed that the Native
American code talkers saved thousands of lives. Once the war ended the Native Americans were
sworn to secrecy incase the code would be needed in another war. Germany and other European countries sent spies to the United States to learn the Indian languages.
When World War II started, the original codes could not be used because the spies sent to
America had learned much of the language. The Japanese in particular were very good at anticipating our actions and sending American troops into ambushes that they set up.Part of the problem was that it took two and a half to three hours for Americans to