We all know about the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, but did you know there were Code Talkers in World War I? Or that the very first US military code talkers were Choctaw and Comanche?
Suzanne Marshall, an MLIS student at Florida State University and reference librarian at West Florida Public Library serves up these facts and more in an article titled “A hidden story: American Indian Code Talkers” in the Winter 2012 Student Papers Issue of Dttp: Documents to the People.
The story of the Indian Code Talkers and belated efforts to honor their work is a story interesting in and of itself. But Suzanne uses this story and some unanswered questions as a springboard to explain the current state of affairs in government archival material and to argue for facilitated access to such material.
She concludes with:
Citizens rightfully own government documents and must be granted not only access but facilitated access to those documents. Important facts are, by default, invisible and virtually inaccessible without facilitated access. As this case of the American Indian code talkers highlights, we must strive to reveal the rich heritage we share in our co-owned government documents.
Marshall, Suzanne. A hidden story: American Indian Code Talkers. Dttp: Documents to the People, v. 40, no. 4, Winter 2012, p. 27