The Navajo Language: A Blessing In Disguise

Table of Contents

The Long Walk
Missionary Schools Prohibit Navajo Language
Federal Livestock  Reduction Program
America Goes to War
Need for a Code
Building of the Navajo Code
Iwo Jima
War Heroes
Interview Transcripts
Process Paper            


In the missionary schools Navajo children were sent from their homes, forced to learn English, and abandon their Navajo language and culture.  Joe Kellwood said,

“Every night they lined us up and paddled us for speaking Navajo during the day.”

During World War II the Navajos were used as an important part of the USMC (United States Marine Corps) signal corps.  Speaking English and Navajo was a requirement for all code talkers.  Their code, based on the Navajo language, saved many lives during the Pacific Island hopping campaign.  The soldiers returned from the war and some of them used their English language skills to succeed away from the reservation.  Today Navajos recognize the importance of keeping their language and culture alive.

Click here to hear Joe Kellwood sing the Marine Corps Hymn!