The National Museum of the American Indian honors American Indian Code Talkers. This is a companion website to the traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, Native Words, Native Warriors.
During World War I and World War II, hundreds of American Indians joined the United States armed forces and used words from their traditional tribal languages as weapons. The United States military asked them to develop secret battle communications based on their languages—and America’s enemies never deciphered the coded messages they sent. “Code Talkers,” as they came to be known after World War II, are twentieth-century American Indian warriors and heroes who significantly aided the victories of the United States and its allies.
Most American Indians were not legally considered citizens of the United States until 1924. Even then, some states refused to let American Indians vote until as late as the 1950s.
Despite this tragic history, many American Indian men and women have served in all branches of the military. In many conflicts and wars, including World War I and World War II, American Indians honorably defended their homelands and the United States.