Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 11, 2014

Workshop discusses online code talker sites

TAHLEQUAH — During the spring semester, Northeastern State University has welcomed guest speakers and a traveling Smithsonian exhibit, “Native Words, Native Warriors,” to explain and honor the history of Native American code talkers.

As part of NSU’s 42nd Symposium on the American Indian, a workshop was conducted to discuss online sites through which students can conduct research and educators can develop lesson plans about code talkers.

“Resilient Warriors: Researching the Indian Code Talkers” was presented by Steve Beleu of the U.S. Government Information Division of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, and Samantha Clifford, government documents librarian for NSU’s John Vaughan Library. The workshop was Thursday in the University Center.

Beleu started with the National Museum of the American Indian site. It includes six sections, with chapters within each. Two veteran code talkers are featured on the site: Carl Gorman of Arizona and Charles Chibitty of Oklahoma. It is at nmai.si.edu/education/codetalkers/html/.

“The NMAI website was developed to accompany the traveling Smithsonian exhibition,” Beleu said. “The purpose of the workshop is to show people the features of each site and also to explain any problems.”

Clifford visited pages dedicated to the history of code talkers. The U.S. Department of Defense maintains a page with information at www.defense.gov/specials/nativeamerican01/code.html. The page includes a photo of Chibitty during his Knowlton Award ceremony.

Information is also available by searching for “code talkers” on Wikipedia.

“I’m not sure Wikipedia should be necessarily used for research,” Clifford said. “But there is a lot of basic information, and it is pretty extensive. It also contains a bibliography and links to other sources.”

A page dedicated to Oklahoma Code Talkers is maintained by the Oklahoma Historical Society in its online “Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture."

The address is digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/C/CO013.html.

The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008 can be read by visiting the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Federal Digital System (www.gpo.gov/fdsys) and searching for “Public Law 110-420.”

More sites and information are available by conducting searches at the National Archives and Records Administration (search.archives.gov) or the Veterans History Project (www.loc.gov/vets).

“What I found interesting about the Veterans History Project is that it has a lot of personal information,” Clifford said. “There are entries for individual soldiers who served as code talkers. It also tells how to cite the information. I know it can be difficult to properly cite sources.”

A search can also be conducted at the Oklahoma History Center site at www.okhistory.org/historycenter/index.

“Looking at the Oklahoma History Center site, I was surprised to discover the government of France honored the Choctaw code talkers of the First World War in 1989,” Beleu said.

France awarded the 19 Choctaw code talkers the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite.

There are also tribal sites honoring American Indian code talkers.

“The best are the Choctaw and Comanche sites,” Beleu said. “There are others, but right now there are no Navajo or Hopi sites.”

Other code talker pages covered in the workshop included:

Choctaw: choctawcodetalkersassociation.com

Comanche: www.comanchelanguage.org/comanche%20Code%20Talk ers.htm

Cree: www.davidstonehouse.com/articles/windtalkers/htm

Meskwaki: www.msswarriors.org/history/MeskinteractiveCD/Pages/Culture/warriorsWWIICodeTalkers.htm

Code Talkers’ Dictionary: www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq61-4.htm

Bibliography: www.history.navy/mil/faqs/faq12-1.htm, National Public Radio story: www.npr.org/2011/11/28/142849647/navajo-code-powerful-as-any-weapon-in-wwii

Sioux sites: www.sd4history.com/unit9/codetalkers.htm, www.crstvets.org/code-talkers

srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

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