Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sun, April 18

Arizona declares new state holiday to honor Navajo Code Talkers

Navajo Code Talker John Kinsel stands next to an oil portrait based on a photograph by Kenji Kawano. The Office of the President and Vice President provided these portraits as gifts for the surviving Navajo Code Talkers. (Office of the President and Vice President)

Navajo Code Talker John Kinsel stands next to an oil portrait based on a photograph by Kenji Kawano. The Office of the President and Vice President provided these portraits as gifts for the surviving Navajo Code Talkers. (Office of the President and Vice President)

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona has a new state holiday.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill March 29 to honor Native Americans who used their language to transmit coded messages during World War II.

Arizona has recognized code talkers by proclamation and through legislation for years. The bill sponsored by state Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai makes Aug. 14 a state holiday. It will be observed on a Sunday when state offices already are closed.

“It’s wonderful to have the State of Arizona honor and recognize the sacrifices and contributions of the Navajo Code Talkers. It’s long overdue,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said. “We only have a few Navajo Code Talkers with us to this day, but we pay tribute to all of them and their families. Their legacy is strengthened with today’s signing of this bill and we hope that this will also help to share the stories of our Code Talkers so that many more people throughout the state are aware of everything that they gave for our country.”

While hundreds of Navajos were recruited as code talkers, about a dozen Hopis and members of other tribes also covertly sent wartime messages.

Peshlakai, who is Navajo, said it's important that Arizonans remember their service and bravery. Less than a handful of Navajo Code Talkers are still alive.

The Navajo Nation celebrates Aug. 14 as a tribal holiday, marking the date Japan announced it would surrender to the Allied forces.

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