Missouri State University’s Dr. William Meadows has devoted thirty years of his life to studying Native American code talkers who served in both world wars.
Meadows, professor of anthropology and Native American studies in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Gerontology, began researching the Comanche Code Talkers in 1992, then branched out to study other Plains Indian military societies for his doctoral studies at the University of Oklahoma in 1995.
Coming from a military family, Meadows became interested in finding out more about the military experience of Indigenous peoples early in his career.
As he explored their cultures, traditions and ceremonies, he discovered many Native Americans from several tribes had served as code talkers in both world wars. In particular, the Navajo were already well-known, but more than 30 other tribes were not.
At least 34 different tribes participated in the code formulation for World War I and World War II, according to Meadows.
“When I was interviewing Native American veterans, one of the Comanche veterans brought up his background in the war,” Meadows said. “He explained that he and some others were recruited to create an undecipherable code in their native language.”
“They were put in military prep schools with the aim of assimilating them into mainstream America,” Meadows explained. “They were banned from speaking their language or practicing any form of culture. It’s an irony that the same culture has brought them recognition.”
“Their stories are good examples of holding on to culture,” he added. [Read more…] about Dr. William Meadows’ research dedicated to Native American code talkers