The Najavo code

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The Najavo code

The Najavo CodeEmily EtrisPeriod 2Febuary 2015

The Najavo Code was virtually impossible to break. It required a transmitter who was fluent in the Najavo tribe language. Being officially started in 1942, the Najavo Code Talkers changed the war. When these American heroes arrived home after the war, they were sworn to secrecy. They could tell know one of the battles they fought, or there real role in the war. Today, we not only know that about 375 to 420 Navajo’s served as code talkers, but also there heroic stories and fascinating use of the Najavo code.

When Navajo code talkers received messages that had to be sent elsewhere, they relayed the messages to the Navajo code talkers on the other end by translating the message they had been given to words in a pre-defined code. An example is the word for the warship "cruiser". It would be written as "LO-TSO-YAZZIE". If the message was intercepted by an enemy who had knowledge of the Navajo language, "LO-TSO-YAZZIE" would only mean "small whale". The two-level coding provided an air of complexity that was called the “code-within-a-code system”. This made the Najavo code extremely hard to break. However, there were still many words that didn’t have a coded version. When these words were used, they were spelled out using the letters of the alphabet; also coded. To prevent the enemy from deciphering the code by the repetition of each letter, numerous versions of each letter were formed to prevent enemy decryptions.

The Najavo code began with Philip Johnson, who had become fluent in the Najavo language during childhood, originally proposed the idea of using the Najavo language as a code. The enemies could not translate this code because it was almost impossible for an adult to learn. Originally, only 29 Najavos’ were allowed to become recruits. They arrived at a recruit depot in San Diego, California on May 5, 1942. These original Najavos were successful. After the demonstrations, two hundred Najavos were recommended for recruitment. The battle of Iwo Jima was the first real proof of the Najavo’s value.

The Najavo code is still and important topic today because it shows us that with a certain amount in ingenuity and hard work, nothing is impossible. It also teaches us to use all of our resources. The Najavo language was a perfect example of this. Being virtually impossible to learn, having the linguistic structure almost opposite to that of the Indo-European languages, and having a large population in which is fluent, provided an unbreakable American code. The Najavo code talkers who served in the United States Marine Corps. (USMC), experienced mild prejudice and suspicion from their fellow marines. Their comrades were not aware of the role they played in the infantries. Today, we know that they saved the allies, and possibly the world as we know it.

I choose this topic because the Najavo code interested me. I have always been fascinated by secret codes, and this was an opportunity to learn more about them. The Najavo Code is an extremely interesting topic. It is a story of the lives that were risked day and night, and I wanted to be a part of it. To tell others about these brave men, and show them never to forget anyone.



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