The Navajo Code Talkers

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The Navajo Code Talkers

During the Pacific portion of World War II, increasingly frequent instances of broken codes plagued the United States Marine Corps. Because the Japanese had become adept code breakers, at one point a code based on a mathematical algorithm could not be considered secure for more than 24 hours. Desperate for an answer to the apparent problem, the Marines decided to implement a non-mathematical code; they turned to Philip Johnston's concept of using a coded Navajo language for transmissions.

Although this idea had been successfully implemented during World War I using the Choctaw Indian's language, history generally credits Philip Johnston for the idea to use Navajos to transmit code across enemy lines. Philip recognized that people brought up without hearing Navajo spoken had no chance at all to decipher this unwritten, strangely syntactical, and guttural language (Navajo). Fortunately, Johnston was capable of developing this idea because his missionary father had raised him on the Navajo reservation. As a child, Johnston learned the Navajo language as he grew up along side his many Navajo friends (Lagerquist 19). With this knowledge of the language, Johnston was able to expand upon the idea of Native Americans transmitting messages in their own language in order to fool enemies who were monitoring transmissions. Not only did the Code Talkers transmit messages in Navajo, but the messages were also spoken in a code that Navajos themselves could not understand (Paul 7).

This code actually proved vital to the success of the Allied efforts in World War II. Because the Code Talkers performed their duty expertly and efficiently, the Marines could count on both the ...

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