Choctaws Seek Honors for WW1 Code Talkers

10-16-06 - Nearly 90 years ago a small group of Choctaw men were credited with saving thousands of lives after helping end WW1. Now their tribe is going to Washington looking for an honor their ancestors never received.

They are called the code talkers, Native Americans who used their native language as a code that the enemy couldn't crack, a tactic that remained a classified secret for most of the 20th Century, meaning no honors were given.

Now all those men are gone while their families still fight for their proper recognition.

In the midst of one of the bloodiest wars ever, the United States found victory in world war one thanks to a venture that would change warfare for several years to come, and it all began with eighteen Choctaw Indians serving in France.

In 1917, German forces always had a leg-up on the battle field after American signals were regularly intercepted, until the unwritten and unheard of language of the Choctaws was used on the front lines.

That secret has been de-classified and the Choctaw Nation along with Comanche and Sioux tribes are turning to congress for federal recognition with the code talker recognition act, an honor that would remember their dedication of life and language in the form of a specially minted medal the soldiers never got a chance to wear.

The Choctaw Nation hopes to see the medals issued before losing a generation of code talker children. The Smithsonian has a code talkers exhibit that will travel to the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City on November 9 to honor Choctaw and Comanche code talkers. Choctaw Chief Greg Pyle will be one of the keynote speakers at that exhibit.

The Code Talker Recognition Act died in the senate last year. But this year, the Senate has unanimously approved the bill, and it is now awaiting a vote in the house.