Monday, October 10, 2005

Native American Navajo Code Talkers Museum Planned

The movie about the World War II Navajo code talkers which starred Nicolas Cage a few years ago brought this important piece of history in the public eye. Now there are plans for a museum honoring the Navajo code talkers in New Mexico, USA. The New Mexico Legislature approved a $90,000 matching-fund grant if the city of Gallup and the Southwest Indian Foundation each contributes $90,000. Many of the surviving Native American Navajo code talkers today are in or past their late 70s and Kent Hodges from the Gallup Cultural Center wants them to witness the preservation of their legacy. "It's very important for them to see that something is being done now," he said. The Code Talker museum would be created on the Cultural Center's upper floor or in a large open space downstairs. The museum will also be interactive, "where people are not just walking around looking at artifacts, something they can sink their teeth into" said Hodges. This will be especially important for the younger visitors since "any time you can engage a child in a sensory way, the longer it's going to live with them." Navajo youth especially, he said, "need to be aware of that story and be proud of that heritage." During World War II, the US government recruited Navajos to speak their language and create a code the Japanese could not break. The Native American Navajo code talkers were instrumental... in a lot of our success, in the South Pacific, and some people will even say they were essential," Hodges said. He said the foundation is also working with the Smithsonian which is interested in future support and funding.

For more on culture, see Native American Information Articles and for beautiful artwork, see Free Spirit Gallery Native American Art.

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