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Comanche "Code Talkers" honored by tribe, City of Lawton

Lawton_During World War II, Native American soldiers were a key part of the allies' success, because the US Military used them to send secret messages in their native language, and it could not be decoded by the enemy.  Comanches were one of more than a dozen tribes who participated in the top secret program that employed the "Code Talkers. 

As the official kickoff to the Comanche Nation Fair, the tribe's museum unveiled an exhibit dedicated to the "Code Talkers."  The "Native Words, Native Warriors" exhibit is a travelling exhibit on loan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC.  While the artifacts, photographs, and letters pay tribute to all of the "Code Talkers" of the war, the museum is placing special emphasis on the 17 Comanche men who helped communicate critical messages during the war. 

It took a machine up to four hours to transmit and decode a message, but the "Code Talkers" could do it in less than three minutes - their codes were never broken.  On Thursday, the Comanche tribe paid tribute to each of their own.  As each name was read, a family member accepted a blanket to honor their relative's service to the country.  Vivian Gooday's brother and cousin were two of the "Code Talkers"  "I felt proud...I felt real proud to be there for my brother," she said.  The museum's exhibit tells the story of the men's lives in photographs and artifacts depicting what they endured during World War II. 

Comanche Tribal Chairman Wallace Coffey says the men show how important indigenous language is.  "We have a problem with language in America," he said.  "Everyone is saying, ‘English only,' but what they fail to realize is our Indian Nations.  We were born with an original language.  We are trying our best to embrace our language.  We are trying our best to utilize it in day to day experiences."  The secrets of the "Code Talkers" language were so well kept that the Germans remained puzzled about the code for many years following the war. 

Thursday morning the United States House passed Bill 4544 - "The Code Talker Recognition Act" - and it's now on its way to the senate.  The City of Lawton also has declared September 25 "Comanche Code Talker Day."  The "Native Words, Native Warriors" exhibit will be on display at the Comanche Nation Museum through November 30, and the 17th Annual Comanche Nation Fair will continue through Sunday at the Comanche Nation Complex.

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