Navajo Code Talker John Kinsel stands next to an oil portrait based on a photograph by Kenji Kawano. The Office of the President and Vice President provided these portraits as gifts for the surviving Navajo Code Talkers.
Published August 15, 2018
WINDOW ROCK — Leaders and citizens of the Navajo Nation, and of the United States, recognize on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, as Navajo Code Talkers Day in honor of the contribution and sacrifice of the warriors who developed an unbreakable code to bring an end to World War II.
“The freedom we enjoy is connected to the Navajo Code Talkers,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said. “On the front lines of some of history’s bloodiest battles, these men were using our language to protect American soldiers. Our language is powerful. It is strong and sacred.”
“In a hundred years, we will still be speaking Diné bizaad,” President Begaye continued. “In five hundred years, we will still be speaking Diné bizaad.”
The Navajo language, Diné bizaad, was used to secure military communication lines to advance marines forward on the battlefields of the Pacific Theatre.
At a time when the reliability of Native American soldiers was called into question, an original group of 29 Navajo Code Talkers transmitted information about tactics, troop movements, orders and other battlefield messages using telephones and radios. Their work was so successful that more than 400 Navajos were called upon to serve as code talkers by the end of WWII.
“We honor our code talkers and the language that was spoken to win the war,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “I look at it as God looking upon us as a blessed nation. We are a blessed nation, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s always remember that. And it all started 150 years ago when our ancestors came back as a people to our homeland.”
President Begaye and Vice President Nez were joined by some of the remaining Navajo Code Talkers and their family members. Families of the late code talkers were also in attendance, along with delegates of the Navajo Nation Council and many more.
Every year, the Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP) provides gifts for surviving Navajo Code Talkers. This year, President Begaye presented them with custom oil portraits of themselves, based on photographs by Kenji Kawano, who has been taking pictures of the code talkers for more than 40 years.
The OPVP would like to thank everyone involved with the success of the day’s activities including, but not limited to, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Marine Band, the Young Marines, the Devil Pups, Mr. Kawano, the Price family from Fort Defiance, the Navajo Code Talkers Association, and all Navajo Code Talkers and their families.