Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Tue, Sept. 22

Diné College students create Navajo Code Talker ceremony films

(Photo courtesy of Dine College)

(Photo courtesy of Dine College)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The lives of the Navajo Code Talkers have been shaped into stories we hear about on a daily basis. Nine of these stories were featured Aug. 21 in a film ceremony as part of Navajo Code Talkers Day.

The films were created by students from Diné College and Winona State University in Minnesota as part of the Navajo Oral History project, an academic collaboration of the two institutions, which ran from 2009-2015. The project was led by Dr. Miranda Haskie, Diné College, Dr. Tom Grier, Winona State University and Mr. Robbie Christiano, Winona State University.

“Congratulations to you and your students on your hard work,” said Diné College President Charles M. Roessel. “You make the Nation’s college proud. More importantly, you have safeguarded the personal history and Navajo history for generations. This is exactly what the founders hoped for and wanted for this college.”

During six years of active field work, students in the Navajo Oral History project made 27 documentary films about Navajo elders, including nine about the Navajo Code Talkers.

The Code Talkers were Navajo men recruited to the U.S. Marines during World War II who used their native language in a secret code that was never broken and helped end the war and save countless lives. Of the more than 400 Navajo Code Talkers that served during the war, the four remaining Navajo Code Talkers, each over age 90, are: Thomas Begay of Window Rock, Arizona; John Kinsel Sr. of Lukachukai, Arizona; Peter MacDonald Sr., of Tuba City, Arizona; and Samuel Sandoval of Shiprock, New Mexico.

In 1982, U.S. President Ronald Reagan declared Aug. 14 as National Navajo Code Talkers Day. The Code Talkers are honored each year on Navajo Code Talkers Day at the Navajo Nation capitol.

More information about the Navajo Oral History project is available at https://tribalcollegejournal.org/preserving-wisdom-navajo-oral-history-project.

Information provided by Diné College

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