Laying prone on the ground among the thick brush and trees of the jungles in The Philippines, with bullets whizzing past their heads, a team of Native Americans spoke in their native tongue, transmitting words over radios in the Lakota language while Japanese soldiers moved about only a few hundred feet away. Code talkers representing the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Councils of Fire, also known as the Sioux Nation) spoke of the enemy’s numbers, locations, and movements amongst each other, translating the words into English to help military officers develop strategies.
Tribal members of the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota - the three primary dialects of the Sioux Nation - served as code talkers in the South Pacific theater during World War II. Among them, Walter “Cody” John, a young iSanti Dakota (Santee Sioux), who joined the U.S. Army two months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. It was a secret he’d keep from his children, taking it to his grave.
By Tim Trudell
Read the entire story in the latest edition of Living Here magazine.
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