August 12, 2014 | By ICTMN Staff

Rosalie Little Thunder: ‘Lakota Library’ Walks On

She helped preserve the Lakota language, protect sacred sites and species, and founded The Buffalo Field Campaign in 1997. Rosalie Little Thunder, Lakota, walked on August 9.... Read more

August 03, 2014 | By Michael Meuers

Ojibwemowin Revitalization Celebration Honors Larry Stillday

"There is a great beauty to the language and culture of the Red Lake Ojibwe." ~Chi-Ma’iingan/Larry Stillday.... Read more

July 29, 2014 | By Navajo Nation

Flags Fly at Half-Staff on Navajo Nation in Honor of Code Talker

The Navajo Nation mourns the loss of another warrior.... Read more

July 12, 2014 | By Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Mourns Loss of Former Chief Perry Beaver

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is mourning the passing of Chief R. Perry Beaver. Beaver passed on July 11, 2014.... Read more

June 26, 2014 | By ICTMN Staff

Former White Earth Chairman Darrell ‘Chip’ Wadena Walks On

Darrell “Chip” Wadena, who served as the tribal chairman of the White Earth Chippewa in Minnesota for 20 years from 1976 to 1996, walked on June 24 after a long illness.... Read more

June 12, 2014 | By Navajo Nation

Navajo Nation Mourns Loss of Code Talker Sidney Bedoni

The Navajo Nation is in mourning.... Read more

June 10, 2014 | By Richard Walker

Last of Original 29 Code Talkers Remembered for Courage and Humility

Most people know, of course, that Chester Nez was a World War II code talker—one of the original 29, in fact, who developed the code that stymied Japanese forces and helped win the war in the Pacific.

But to understand the true measure of the man, let’s consider the whole package.

As a child, he was sent to boarding school, where he was given a new name and was forbidden to speak his language. Then, with the U.S. looking for a way to confound its wartime enemies, he and 28 other Navajo men were recruited to create an unbreakable code, using the language they had been punished for speaking, a language that had been unwritten and was spoken only by the Navajo.

The mission was top secret. He couldn’t talk about it—not with other Marines with whom he served; not with his family, even after the war; not with the paper-pusher back home who, when Nez applied for a civilian ID card, smugly told the decorated war veteran that he still was not a full citizen of the U.S.

When a battle was over, Marines in their division got R&R while Nez and his fellow code talkers shipped off to another battlefield: Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Peleliu.

And yet, Nez and his fellow code talkers didn’t complain.

They were the beneficiaries of ceremonies performed to protect them physically, emotionally and spiritually (American History magazine reported in 2006 that there was “surprisingly little evidence of serious psychological problems or combat fatigue among the returning Navajo veterans.”) Their uniforms had been blessed before they left home. On the battlefield, they carried medicine pouches containing an arrowhead and corn pollen. They prayed every day.

Sometimes, on the battlefield, Nez could hear the bells of the sheep back home and knew people there were praying for him. Indeed, in Chichiltah, his family did pray for him. They burned sage or cedar chips and fanned the smoke over their bodies and, Nez wrote in his memoir, “Their prayers were carried across the miles as the pure, bright chime of the bells.”

RELATED: Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII

The Way carried them through the endless battles and the constant threat and smell of death.

“They didn’t do it for the glory,” said Joe Price, whose namesake grandfather was a code talker. “They did it to defend their homeland—not just the United States, but the Navajo Nation.”

That was Chester Nez, whose remains were laid to rest with full military honors on June 10 at the national cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He walked on at the age of 93 on June 4. He was the last of the 29 original code talkers; ultimately, the ranks of code talkers numbered 421.

“We will always be grateful for his sacrifice and brave service for our country, and more importantly, for his selfless actions to protect our people and the great Navajo Nation,” Navajo Nation Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates said of Nez, in a statement posted on the nation’s website.

... Read more

June 05, 2014 | By NIGA

NIGA Mourns Loss of Puyallup Chairman

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernest L.... Read more

June 04, 2014 | By ICTMN Staff

He Was Their Last Original Voice, Code Talker Chester Nez Walks On

World War II has been over for more than 65 years, and the outcome of that war has largely been credited to the work of the original 29 Navajo code talkers.... Read more

June 03, 2014 | By ICTMN Staff

Longtime Puyallup Tribal Leader Herman Dillon Sr. Walks On

Elected to the Puyallup tribal council in 1971, Herman Dillon Sr.... Read more


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