Hopi Code Talkers recognized by state senate

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - On Jan. 11, the Hopi Tribal Council passed Resolution H-024-2011, authored by Eugene Talas, Director of Hopi Veterans Affairs, and endorsed by Hopi Vice Chairman Herman G. Honanie to formally recognize Rex Pooyouma and Orville Wadsworth as additional Hopi Code Talkers. The resolution passed unanimously by a vote of 12-0.

Previously, the Hopi Council had passed Resolution H-039-2007 acknowledging and recognizing the following men as Hopi Code Talkers during WWII: Franklin Shupla, Warren Koiyaquaptewa, Frank Chapella, Travis Yaiva, Charles Lomakema, Percival Navenma, Perry Honanie Sr., and Floyd Dann Sr., all of whom were assigned to the 323rd Infantry Regiment of the 81st Infantry Division, known as the "Wildcat Division."

In early September of 2010, the Director of the Office of Hopi Veterans Services was notified that Rex Pooyouma was identified by the U.S. Army Center of Military Studies as a Hopi Code Talker and in October of 2010, further military documentation was provided citing Orville Wadsworth as a Hopi Code Talker. Wadsworth's name was submitted to the U.S. Army Center of Military Studies for validation and shortly after Veterans Day 2010, he was confirmed as the tenth Hopi Code Talker.

During WWII, Pooyouma was assigned to the 380th Bombardment Group and Wadsworth was assigned to the 90th Bombardment Group, with the Fifth Bomber Command, Fifth Air Force, U.S. Army Air Force. Both were selected and trained as part of a secret Native American Code Talker communications network to transmit secret-coded messages using their Hopi Lavayii in the Pacific campaign at the height of the war.

On Jan. 18, during the 16th Annual Indian Nations and Tribal Legislation Day at the State Capitol, Senator Jack Jackson Jr. (D), sponsored and introduced SCR 1009 to the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee to formally honor and recognize the Hopi Code Talkers and their contributions to this country and the State of Arizona. SCR 1009 would also encourage schools to teach about the contributions of the Hopi and other Native American code talkers.

In a packed standing-room only crowd, heartfelt and emotional testimonies were heard from Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa, Hopi Veterans Affairs Director Eugene Talas and family members of the Hopi Code Talkers.

"These Hopi men were humble and did not talk about what they did in combat. A cleansing ceremony is performed to purify them before they return to their homes in the villages. They did not share their stories with anyone and lived the rest of their lives with memories only they knew about," Chairman Shingoitewa stated. "All Hopi code talkers are now deceased and we feel it is important that the state of Arizona and this great nation of ours know the history of what our people did for this country."

Talas added, "The Hopi people are very humble and don't expect any glory or recognition, but for the most part they are supportive that we are finally recognizing the Hopi code talkers."

The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted unanimously to endorse a resolution which would formally acknowledge and honor the Hopi Code Talkers. All senators expressed their thanks to family members of the Hopi Code Talkers and acknowledged support from everyone.

The day was one of celebration for all Hopis, and as Maxine Wadsworth daughter of Orville Wadsworth tearfully said, "This helps bring closure for us".

The Hopi Tribal Council has recommended the design and purchase of a new bronze plaque to add Pooyouma and Wadsworth as Hopi Code Talkers to be displayed at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center monument. A bronze plaque was previously dedicated on Nov. 11, 2009 with the names of eight Hopi Code Talkers.

For more information, contact Eugene "Geno" Talas at (928) 737-1834 or email hopivets@yahoo.com.

Comments

Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comment submissions may not exceed a 200 word limit, and in order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.