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Class Information for Winter 2020: NAVAJO CODE TALKERS, 1:00-3:00pm, Monday, April 6, RH Johnson Lecture Hall (S102)


During WWII, a small group of men from the Navajo homeland enlisted in the Marines with unique armor. This select group of men devised a code using the Diné (Navajo) language to pass secret information without the enemy ever deciphering or breaking the code. For years a cloak of secrecy hung over the service these Code Talkers gave to the U.S. government and country. Over 40 years later, the code was de-classified and the Code Talkers were recognized and honored for their military contributions to the war effort by Presidents Reagan and Bush, and the Navajo Nation. This presentation discusses how the code was devised and used, personal quotes from the Marines, why the young Marines enlisted in the military, and photos of the Code Talkers. Instructor Laura Tohe is Diné. She is Sleepy Rock clan born for the Bitter Water clan and the daughter of a Navajo Code Talker. 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). She wrote a commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, for the Phoenix Symphony. She is Professor with Distinction in Indigenous Literature at Arizona State University and is the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2015-2019.

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