Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Power of Words

Monument to Navajo Code Talkers at Window Rock
You may have heard of the 29 - the 29 Navajo Marines that were the original Code Talkers that created the radio or communications code that was then used in the Pacific Theatre of World War II.  They created a code in a few weeks that was unbreakable - it could not be translated or deciphered or de-coded, and it provided instantaneous communication between parties.  When you put that in context of real-time combat on the ground, it was a superior and deadly advantage for you should you possess that ability.

Basically before the Navajo Code, if you were being shot at by an enemy from point A, and you wanted to aim and then shoot your artillery at point A to get the bastards off your back, you would send a message by what ever means, courier, by radio, etc - and it could take up to two hours for that message to be received and then your artillery guns given that information to aim and shoot.

By that time, if you weren't dead, the enemy on point A could have moved off, or reinforced, etc.  If the enemy intercepted your message and decoded it (which the Japanese at times could do) they knew your  move before you were going to make it.  This is a logistic that all armies, ours and the armies we have fought, struggled with during wartime.

With the Code Talkers, they could send and receive messages in REAL TIME - instant messaging if you will.  You could know instantly what was going on on the battlefield, and react and possibly - and hopefully turn things in your favor.  What it did was save many an American soldier and sailor's ass.

You also may or may not have seen the war movie with Nick Cage.  Like any movie, it's entertainment / fantasy - so I suggest you read a book by Chester Nez, one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, and from reading that book - which is from the voice of a modest and dignified man, you will get a sense of how important and how fascinating the Code was, and what it did for the United States Military in combat.

One thing I liked about his book, is his experience and frankness about attending boarding school.  For one, most if not all of Indian Children that went to boarding schools went voluntarily - it was pretty clear, at least in Mr. Nez's time, that having an education, and being able to speak English and deal with an increasingly modern world - would be a necessity.  His father certainly knew this, and with his family's support, he did go to boarding school.  It was not easy for him, and it was not easy for other kids like him.

Many Pseudo-intellectuals - primarily Native American Pseudo-scholars will rant, if and when given the platform, will spread misinformation about boarding schools.  They do about Haskell all the time.  Mostly it's anecdotal - or what the Indians would say "Gossip." 99 per cent of this so-called boarding school abuse is bullshit.  When ever there was cruelty, it was always Indian Staff working at the schools being cruel to Indian students - but they never tell you that.

When this issue comes up - the unread and uneducated folks are somehow given the opportunity to keep this crap going - usually they are somewhat connected to Haskell - maybe they went to school there.  They just repeat what they've heard, and what they have heard is not accurate - at all.

People don't do their research anymore, they "data mine" for some statement and then twist it.  I was the fucking librarian there at Haskell and it was easy to fact-check what these assholes were saying (yeah there are Native People who are uneducated assholes)  I had the books right there, and Gentle Readers of This Blog - I was amazed, then shocked - the offended at what these people were claiming  was historical truth.   They hadn't done their homework.  They hadn't done their research.  It makes me sick.

The fucktard Governor of Kansas, Gov Brownback, in late 2013 apologized to "The Native Americans" for the ill treatment of Indian Kids at boarding schools - what a bunch of shit!!!  All Indian Children that went to boarding schools in the entire country?  That is what the Pseudo-scholars will tell you is the truth.   At least Brownback did not mention, to my knowledge, Haskell in particular, because there was no ill treatment of Indians student there - no documents and no evidence.  By default, that was the only historically accurate thing the Governor said by not mentioning Haskell specifically.

So, you may think you know something about the Navajo Code Talkers but do you really know why the code was so powerful? or important.  Most Native People I know, and many Navajo People I know, do not understand what these guys did.

Because this kid from the Navajo Reservation was forced to speak flawless English in boarding school - reading, writing, speaking - he could instantly take a spoken or written statement in English and speak in Navajo (using the code spoken in Navajo) to the other Code Talker on the ground (usually in combat) and the power of what he spoke made bombs fall and shells rain in on the enemy.

That is pretty heavy to think about when you're 19 or 20 years old- that your words can vaporize other people.  So after reading about this young Navajo Marine, and how the code worked, I can see how these modest guys down-played the power of the code.   I also believe any person, Japanese, Russian, German, American with that kind of experience would do the same - it's just that the War Machine found the most effective means, and that was the Navajo.

I was driving back up to The College from Gallup, and I thought I would actually see for myself the Window Rock.  Here it is - The People don't attach any spiritual or any other significance to the rock formation - it just appears a good place to camp.  Everybody knew that, and the place - so having the Capital there makes some sense.

I wanted to get out on the road bike again, but it was just too cold.   Instead I took the Desert San Campus bike down to Tsaile Lake.  The air was clean and crisp, mes amis!  And most of the heavy snow we've had looks like it melted.

I want to tell you that as the snow melts, the ground turns to mud!  the mud is thick and oozy and like warm wet peanut butter!  It sticks on everything!  Those rocks in the pic are some sort of boat ramp to get closer to the lake - get off these rocks and sink in the muck!

I have seen people out here ice fishing.   I'll wait awhile before I go try to fish.  I hear that the trout are awesome, and I plan to catch some for dinner this Spring and Summer!

The Sun is intense out here - like Tucson.  Years ago I should have worn a broad rim hat - Tucson Sun has damaged my skin - Also, the Sun on the snow is blinding!   If I stay out too long and there's bright sunshine and lots of snow, I will get a sunburn...

There are roads like this that lead everywhere across this country.  You can't tell, but it is a muddy muddy mess!  Actually on a bike, it's okay.  But driving on these kinds of roads beats your vehicle to pieces...  Still many students I know, and my colleagues at work have to use roads like this from where they live to get to the jobsite...

You can't really tell, but mud was caked on the bike.  Again, it's like wet red sticky gooey peanut butter, but seems to dry hard and thick when on your tires or your boots.  If you step in the mud, and then try to get out - your shoe or boot sticks and your foot slips out!

So here's the inside of my little place.  I have the new couch and the new table and chairs I brought up from Tucson.   The remoteness and striking vastness of this county can get to me.  Also sometimes the Navajo, especially the students can get on my nerves.  Cell phones and tossing cigarette butts - shit young college students do everywhere pushes my buttons.

There's this big Indian named Tom who comes into the library every afternoon.  He's kind of fat and does not dress well - and he smells really really bad.  But he has a lot of charm and he makes it a point to speak with me in a cordial way- he calls me Cowboy.  I told him I was not a cowboy by any means - Drugstore Cowboy, he says.  That works for me and we have a laugh.  You know - I like this guy...

He is a bit loud, and his English broken.  He appears to be not very bright - he's in college up here, and he's not a young Navajo - he's like in his late 50's.  I've tried to help him with computer things and and some reading - he struggles, and I struggle because his B.O is over-powering.

Today he came up to the front desk to speak to Mary, my colleague.  I was in my office but I could hear Tom speaking...

Speaking in Navajo - I have never heard him speak Navajo, nor Mary either for that matter.  

In Navajo, Tom speaks like a regal statesman.  So eloquent, so articulate, so poetic - it sounds like a song - the way a Summer Storm would sing it's song.

Cheers!  Bruce

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