Hopi Tribe honors Hopi Code Talkers
Hopi servicemen remembered for their loyal service
KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - Veterans Day this year held an extra special meaning for members of the Hopi Tribe.
A full day celebration was held at the Hopi Veteran's Memorial Center, which featured a public display and dedication of a Hopi Code Talkers bronze plaque to honor eight Hopi Code Talkers.
Posting colors was American Legion Hopi Post No. 80 with the Pledge of Allegiance led by current Miss Hopi Junell Puhuyesva and First Attendant Verna Thompson.
Travis Yaiva, the only remaining Hopi Code Talker, still lives on the Hopi Reservation. The other seven have passed away.
The eight Hopi Codetalkers include Yaiva, Floyd Dan Sr., Perry Honani Sr., Percival Navenma, Frank C. Chapella, Charles Lomakema, Franklin Shupla and Warren R. Kooyaqauaptewa.
All are now immortalized on a 4-by-6 foot bronze plaque inside the Hopi Veterans Center, which will be eventually moved outdoors to a permanent concrete base for the public to enjoy.
Emcees for the event were Clark Tenakhongva and Hopi Health Care administrator Bruce Talawyma, both veterans.
They spoke of the honor and service that these Hopis brought back home to their reservation with their bravery and commitment to service and defense of this country.
Tenakhongva, a Hopi veterans outreach counselor stated, "This special honor today for our Hopi Code Talkers shows that our Hopi language has now become a code amongst our own people. If we are to remain Hopi, our people must help in every possible way to retain our most valuable resources ..."
"If we are to remain Hopi, our people must help in every possible way to retain our most valuable resources like our language, our land, our ceremonies and religion. It was through the dedication and commitment to service that these Hopi men came to help bring the understanding of peace to the world ... We are the chosen people, we should be proud of our strong, rich heritage to continue into the next century, only time and history will tell, how Hopi will react to this global warfare that has been around since the inception of the American government."
Talawyma added, "I felt the Veterans Day ceremony ... honoring the Hopi Code Talkers was very moving and emotional for all who were in attendance, especially the families. Knowing that there was only one survivor, Travis Yaiva, added to the emotions because the feeling was that the recognition and honoring our Hopi Code Talkers was long overdue. I know I felt honor being a Hopi and to know that it is more important to keep the Hopi language alive because of the sacrifices the Hopi Code Talkers made. The Hopi Code Talkers made a mark in history and we need to all be proud of and continue to keep our culture and traditions strong by speaking Hopi."
Eugene Talas, Hopi Veterans Service director led in the dedication of the plaque by introducing Lt. Colonel John A. Boyd, historian of the 81st Regional Support Command.
Special recognition was also given to Hopi women veterans by Lt. Colonel Mary Williams-Lynch. Williams-Lynch is the Garrison Commander of Camp Navajo and has been in the National Guard for over 23 years. Pam Rodriquez, retired U.S. Army colonel, was also on hand to assist Williams-Lynch in this special recognition and together made a unique presentation to WWII veterans Ethel Jenkins and Edith Acoya.
Former Air Force Staff Sargeant Sharon Fredericks-Batala, Hopi, wrote a commemorative stanza that is inscribed on the Hopi Codetalkers Bronze plaque, commemorating the loyalty and service that these eight Hopi servicemen gave to their country.
She stated, "I was lucky enough to know four of the Hopi Code Talkers personally up to the time of their deaths. I was so privileged to get to know them and their families. They were each so very humble. All of these men, spoke the Hopi language extremely well ... so it didn't seem like a hardship to create a special code to help their fellow servicemen win the war. But when they came home, they realized that many of their own children and grandchildren did not speak Hopi ... so this bronze plaque honor will hold even more importance. It will become an inspiration for our community members to speak Hopi daily, to remember the Hopi spirit that stays with us. I am so honored that I was able to write something for this special code talker plaque to remember these men, to show them what respect means, and to help them keep their own humbleness in a good way."
Wives and daughters of Hopi servicemen helped serve a Hopi traditional meal during the event and the attendees were able to view a presentation that showed both vintage and current photos of Hopi servicemen and women. This special slide show was created by Gordon Mahkewa, U.S. Army retired.
A closing music performance by Hopi recording artist Sidney Poolheco was well recieved by the visiting crowd.
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