Visitors to the Oklahoma Museum of History will have the opportunity to experience Hidden Voices, Coded Words beginning November 10. Hidden Voices, Coded Words features the history of the Choctaw and Comanche Code Talkers and interprets the history of Indian Code Talkers from across the United States.
Hidden Voices, Coded Words tells the story of the U.S. Government's attempts to eradicate native languages through boarding schools and how students of those boarding schools later used their native language to fight the enemies of the United States. Hidden Voices, Coded Words refers to the inability of the German and Japanese troops to understand the languages that they heard on telephone lines and radio waves.
The first organized official code talkers were a group of Choctaw Indians from Southeast Oklahoma who fought with the 36th Infantry Division in France during World War I.
In 1917, fifteen Choctaw soldiers serving in France provided an opportunity for the U. S. Army to secure communications from enemy eavesdropping. The venture was so successful that before the beginning of World War II, the U. S. Army developed a plan to actively recruit Indians for the same duty the Choctaw performed in WWI.
In 1940, the U.S. Army recruited and trained 17 Comanche Indians from Oklahoma to serve as radio operators using their native language to send and receive coded messages. On June 6, 1944, the 4th Signal Company was among the units making the D-Day landing on the coast of Normandy. The first message from Utah Beach was sent in Comanche by Larry Sauppity. Sauppity was assigned to Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. as his personal radio operator.
Soldiers from other tribes also used their language to fight the enemy during World War II. Many of these men did so in impromptu ways, most of them temporary. The distance between then and now has eroded away the memory of many of these men so that we will never truly know all of their contributions.
The Oklahoma History Center is located at 2401 N. Laird Street, the northeast corner of N.E. 23rd & Lincoln Blvd. just east of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Hours are: Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday Noon to 5:00 p.m. The museum is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and News Years Day. For more information contact the Oklahoma Museum of History at (405) 522-5248, or visit www.okhistorycenter.org
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