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Navajo Code Talkers subject of Archaeology Society meeting


CAVE CREEK – During WWII a select group of Navajo men enlisted in the Marines with a unique weapon:  the Navajo language. Some as young as 16 years old enlisted, and most had never left the Navajo reservation. Forbidden to speak Navajo language at school, they developed a secret code and created new words for radio transmission in the South Pacific. The Japanese military never deciphered the code, and for over 40 years a cloak of secrecy hung over the Code Talker’s service. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed Aug. 14 as National Navajo Code Talker day. At the November Arizona Archaeology Society – Desert Foothills Chapter meeting, Dr. Laura Tohe will describe the Code Talkers’ unique cultural background, how the code was devised and used, and how Navajo spiritual beliefs were used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting.

Tohe has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of New Mexico and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English (Creative Writing and Literature) from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Arizona State University. Tohe was named 2006 Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award by the Arizona Humanities Council and received an Arizona Arts Award nomination from the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona 2009. Tohe is Diné/Navajo. She is Sleepy Rock clan born for the Bitter Water clan. Her father was a Navajo Code Talker. A librettist and an award-winning poet, she has written three books of poetry, edited a book of Native American Women writing, and the oral history book, Code Talker Stories. Her commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio made its world premiere in 2008 and was performed by The Phoenix Symphony. She is Professor with Distinction in Indigenous Literature at Arizona State University and is the Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation for 2015-2017.

The Nov. 11 meeting is open to the public and starts at 7:30 p.m., with refreshments available at 7 p.m.  Meetings are held in the community building (Maitland Hall) at The Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church, 6502 East Cave Creek Road, in Cave Creek. See more information at