Standing Rock Sioux Veterans Service Officer Manaja Hill says the tribe’s World War One code talkers served to defend their people and ancestral lands.
“So, their commitment and their willingness to fight for...truly…our way of life and our land, their families, their relatives,” explains Hill. “Truly that’s what it was. Because there was none of this patriotic stuff that goes on now. We weren’t citizens. They weren’t citizens. What they fought for was what they believed in. And that came from the heart. It can’t come for anywhere else.”
Hill adds that it was also less a matter of code-talking than of the Lakota simply speaking their language.
“During this period of time I think very few of our ancestors knew the English language,” Hill observes. “And the people who were listening – even on our side – couldn’t understand what they were saying. So I think the term code talker is misinterpreted to a large degree because our ancestors didn’t know how to speak English.”
Notwithstanding the Lakota code talkers helped win the war by baffling the enemy. The Germans had tapped the Allie’s telephone lines and were successfully deciphering their coded messages. But they were not able to break the Lakota language.
The Congressional Gold Medals are being awarded now after extensive research by the U.S. Army on which soldiers were Lakota code talkers.
Note: The Standing Rock Sioux Code talkers honoring ceremony takes place today starting at noon at the Wakpala Public School, in Wakpala, S.D