ICYMI: Remembering WWII’s Navajo Code Talkers

A look at the incredible history of these Native American servicemembers

December 7, 2022

@theBradbury December Opt

By John Moore, archivist-historian, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Security Research Center

Last month, the National Security Research Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory honored Native American Heritage Month with a look back at the incredible history of the Navajo Code Talkers — a group of Native American servicemembers who used simple words and phrases from their unique tribal language to baffle Japanese code breakers and spur Allied victory in World War II’s Pacific theater.

Many of Los Alamos’ wartime employees came from surrounding pueblos. Native Americans were hired as technicians, researchers, machinists and more, making valuable contributions to the Manhattan Project.

While the Navajo Code Talkers did not originate from Project Y, many of them have direct connections to the modern Laboratory and are relatives of today’s staff, including Darren Harvey, whose father was a cousin of Navajo Code Talker John Goodluck.

“Many Diné [Navajo] men enlisted as they felt a strong sense of service, to be a warrior and to protect their homelands and culture,” said Harvey, who today is co-chair of the Laboratory’s American Indian Employee Resource Group (AIERG). “Unfortunately, these men came from backgrounds [schools] in which they were stripped of their language and culture, punished if they spoke Navajo. However, they developed an unbreakable code that will forever be remembered and honored, these men are cherished and are our heroes.”

Read the full story.