Navajo Code Talkers: Redskins’ Name = Honor

O’siyo.Four Navajo Code Talkers who received honors at the recent football game between the Redskins and 49ers, wore Redskins jackets, and did not seem disturbed by the team’s name. Roy Hawthorne, 87, who was one of the men honored stated that he would endorse the name if he was asked.

Roy Hawthorne of the famed Navajo Nation Code Talkers. Photo-Evan Vucci : AP

Roy Hawthorne of the famed Navajo Nation Code Talkers. Photo-Evan Vucci : AP

Excerpt: Navajo Code Talker Says Redskins Name Is Not Derogatory By F. Fonseca & M. Brown USNews

“Roy Hawthorne, 87, of Lupton, Ariz., was one of four Code Talkers honored for their service in World War II during the Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers. Hawthorne, vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, said the group’s trip was paid for by the Redskins. The four men met briefly with team owner Dan Snyder but did not discuss the name, Hawthorne said. 

Still, he said he would endorse the name if asked, and the televised appearance in which three of the Native Americans wore Redskins jackets spoke for itself. Snyder has called the team name and mascot a “badge of honor.” The name dates to the team’s first years in Boston in the 1930s, and has survived numerous outside efforts to change it. The team has been in the Washington, D.C., area since 1937. Tony Wyllie, Redskins senior vice president said there was no truth to suggestions that the Code Talkers were used to bolster the team’s resistance to a new name.

The Washington Redskins honored Navajo Code Talkers. Photo- Marine Corps Times.

The Washington Redskins honored Navajo Code Talkers. Photo- Marine Corps Times.

They’re American heroes, and they deserved recognition, he said.

Also attending Monday’s game were Code Talker president Peter MacDonald Sr., George Willie Sr. and George James Sr.

The Navajo Code Talkers used codes derived from their native language to shield military communications from interception by Japanese troops. Hawthorne said there are now about 30 surviving Code Talkers.

The trip to Washington was the second this month for Hawthorne, who last week joined other Code Talkers to receive Congressional Gold Medals for the role they played in World War I and World War II.

Navajo Code Talkers WW II. Photo- California Indian Education.

Navajo Code Talkers WW II. Photo- California Indian Education.

The Navajo are perhaps the best known of the Code Talkers, but the Defense Department says the program began in 1918 and at its peak included more than 400 Native Americans who used 33 dialects to make their codes indecipherable.” 

“Strong words outlast the paper they are written upon. ” ~Joseph Bruchac~ From Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two.

We revere the Code Talkers, and are grateful for their essential role in American military operations during World Wars I and II. Their great accomplishments coupled with the soldiers from other Native tribes  have helped protect  “all” people in the United States.

Category: Navajo