Book review: Code Talkers by Joseph Bruchac


Malena Gurnee, Web Journalist

  The novel Code Talkers, by Joseph Bruchac tells of the thrilling tale of a fictional young Navajo soldier named Kii Yazhi during World War II.  

This novel captures an aspect of World War II that many are unaware of. Even though the Navajo faced unfair treatment from the Americans they were still willing to help and risk their lives for them.

  The story talks about his rough childhood when the Navajos were sent away to a school called Rehoboth, where they were taught to be ashamed of their Native American background. They were not allowed to speak their native language and practice important rituals.

  Rehoboth had childrens names changed to something more acceptable in an all white society, making Kii Yazhi now become Ned Begay. But no matter the circumstances Begay kept his culture close to him and made sure he would never forget his native background and language.

  When Begay was sixteen years old he wanted to enlist in the marines. He asked his parents for permission to and they allowed him to do as he wished. Once he became apart of the marines he was asked to join a secret operation.

  This operation was conducted by the U.S. military; they were transmitting messages in codes that held important classified information. The problem with these codes is how easy it was for the Japanese to break them. Any Navajo marines who could fluently speak the Native American language were recruited to be apart of a classified operation.

  The Navajo who took part in this mission were called the Code Talkers. They used their native language called Diné to send messages back and forth. The Japanese were never able to interpret the messages.

  For the duration of the war and even for more than 20 years after it ended, Begay and the other Navajo people had to keep their true purposes of this job a secret but were always proud no matter the circumstances.