Right Field

Navajo Code Talkers Honored by Redskins; What about the Other Tribes?

Story here.

Underreported, however, are the 33 tribes that were honored last week by the White House for their service in World War II:

In a ceremony that many believed was years overdue, 33 tribes — including three from Wisconsin — on Wednesday received Congressional Gold Medals to honor code talkers who used their native languages to transmit messages in World War II.

The ceremony adds what could be a final chapter to a years-long effort to recognize the singular contribution of the code talkers.

“They made a difference,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared as he began a series of speeches by congressional leaders and other lawmakers in the U.S. Capitol’s Emancipation Hall.

Among those tribes honored Wednesday: Wisconsin’s Oneida Tribe of Indians, which had four code talkers during the war, the Ho-Chunk Nation with seven and the Menominee Nation with five. None of the Wisconsin soldiers lived to see their once-secret service recognized.

Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), who co-sponsored the 2008 legislation authorizing the creation of the medals, credited code talkers for saving countless lives by being able to use their native languages to transmit in seconds secret battlefield messages that would have taken a coding machine at least 30 minutes to send.

Enemy forces never broke their code, Kind noted.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, also put the code talkers’ contributions to the U.S. war effort in dramatic terms.

“They saved lives, and they won battles,” Cole said.

More here.

What Snyder did smells of a publicity stunt to distract from the calls to rename his team. Why not have members of all 33 tribes in attendance? This was a literal teachable moment when Americans could’ve learned something amazing about what so many Native Americans did during WWII. Instead we had a quick, made-for-tv commercial that didn’t do much to honor anyone.

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