Identities, Lives, and Memories of Navajo Code Talkers

AHA Session 88
Friday, January 8, 2016: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Room A706 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level)
Chair:
Steve Huffman, Department of Defense
Papers:
A Code Talkerís Wife
Farina King, Arizona State University
Unraveling the “Secrecy” of Native American Code Talking
William Meadows, Missouri State University

Session Abstract

This session brings together scholars with personal and scholarly connections to the historical experiences of Navajo Code Talkers. Navajos, Zonnie Gorman and Farina King, both have dedicated historical studies to Navajo Code Talkers because of their family and relations. Gorman is the daughter of the late Carl Gorman, renowned Navajo artist and code talker. Farina King had two uncles who served as Navajo Code Talkers, Albert and George Smith, who inspired her to study history. Gorman and King have talked to and interviewed code talkers to understand their family histories and greater connections to overarching historical narratives for over a decade. William Meadows and Tom Holm are experts in the field of Native American military history and veteran experiences. Meadows has examined the histories of various Native American code talkers, including the Choctaw in World War I as well as the Navajo Code Talkers in World War II. Holm (Cherokee/Muskogee Creek), a marine veteran himself, has explored Native American military experiences in the twentieth century through several of his works. These scholars now turn to discuss the intricacies of the Navajo Code Talkers’ lives and memories, moving beyond the recent popularized images and flat understandings of these esteemed war heroes. They tackle the difficult questions about code talkers’ experiences on and off the battlefield, on the home front among their families, and the identities that these Diné men and their families forged through their struggles.

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