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Bill would recognize WWI Code Talkers. (Washington Report).

A bill (S 2491) introduced by Senator James M. Inhofe [R-OK] would authorize the president to award a gold medal on behalf of Congress to the Comanche and Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I. The legislation would recognize Native Americans' contributions during the First World War, something that has received little attention.

Members of the Choctaw Nation enlisted in the American Expeditionary Force, which joined the campaign in France in the fall of 1917. They were incorporated into a company of Native American enlistees serving in the 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division. Commanders felt that because of the proximity and static nature of the battle lines in World War I, a method of communication that could be used without the knowledge of the enemy was necessary. The use of Native languages was discouraged by the US military, but the commander sought out and recruited 18 Choctaw Indians to assist in the transmission of field telephone communications during an upcoming operation. Because the language used by the Choctaw soldiers was not based on a European language or mathematical progression, the Germans were unable to understand any of the transmissions.

Indians in the US, including members of the Choctaw Nation, were not accorded citizenship at that time; but without regard to this lack of citizenship, many members of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and other Indian tribes and Nations enlisted in the armed forces to fight on behalf of the US, Senator Inhofe noted. Use of the Choctaw code talkers was the first instance in modem warfare in which the transmission of messages in a Native American language was used for the purpose of confusing the enemy.

The Navajo code talkers have already been recognized for their contributions to the victory in the Pacific during the Second World War (see "Code Talkers Honored," JED, September 2001, p. 16), and there has even been a movie released about the code talkers' exploits and contributions.

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Title Annotation:Senator JAmes M. Inhofe introduces a bill to authorize the president to award a medal to
Comment:Bill would recognize WWI Code Talkers. (Washington Report).(Senator JAmes M.
Author:Chaisson, Kernan
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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