Navajo code breakers

Another interesting link from Hydragenic – an article about Navajo code breakers in the second world war.

The Navajos also had to create lexicon for words that did not exist in Navajo. For example, the word “TORTOISE” (CHAY-DA-GAHI in Navajo) was used for “tank”.

I seem to remember reading that a film was going to be made about this but I can’t find any mentions – anyone know anything about it?

And Comanche was used – Charles Chibitty sent the first message on D-Day which, in English, translated to “Five miles to the right of the designated area and five miles inland the fighting is fierce and we need help.”

Since there was no Comanche word for “tank,” the code talkers used their word for “turtle.” “Machine gun” became “sewing machine,” Chibitty noted, “because of the noise the sewing machine made when my mother was sewing.” “Bomber” became “pregnant airplane.” “Hitler,” he said with a grin, was “posah-tai-vo,” or “crazy white man.”

Fascinating stuff.

6 Responses to “Navajo code breakers”

  1. Stan
    September 12th, 2003 04:11

    The movie was Windtalkers. It’s not a bad film at all. Nicholas Cage is in it.

  2. Daisy
    September 12th, 2003 08:16

    Thanks Stan, I’ll try and find time to rent that one.

  3. dvd
    September 12th, 2003 09:55

    i haven’t seen it, but i wouldn’t rely on the film to be entirely factually accurate. ;) there’s a nice section on the navajo codebreakers in simon singh’s book; the whole thing is worth reading if you’re interested in how encryption has developed.

  4. Daisy
    September 12th, 2003 10:16

    Well, casting an Italian American as a Navajo (I’m assuming the lead role is a Navajo?) made me suspect but I assume it’ll be an entertaining film anyway. *Blush* I’ve got Simon Singh’s book in the “to be read” pile somewhere, will dig it out this weekend. Thanks dvd.

  5. cinz impressed....
    September 12th, 2003 19:29

    Love the look…..and typepad, so far. I made the switch…after being hacked! Me HACked? huh…?
    anyways…interesting about the navajo word for Hitler..crazy white man, dat kan je wel zeggen.
    C ya dais

  6. Daisy
    September 12th, 2003 20:06

    I can’t believe you were hacked, have you lost all the archives too? Pfft, never mind, it’s lovely to see you at TypePad, a big welcome my friend.


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