For the past few months one of the most pressing Hopi-related issues on my mind has been the proposed Hopi Constitution Draft 24A. However, there are other important happenings out at Hopi that I want to highlight on this blog. Yesterday, the Arizona Capitol Times reported that “During Indian Nation and Tribes Legislative Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted unanimously to endorse a resolution that would formally honor the 10 members of the Hopi Tribe who served as code talkers.” And one day earlier on January 20, 2011, Louella Nahsonhoya, Public Information Officer of the Hopi Tribe, released the following statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2011
The State Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee vote unanimously to endorse SCR1009 which will formally acknowledge and honor 10 Hopi Code Talkers
KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. – On Jan. 11, the Hopi Tribal Council passed Resolution H-024-2011, authored by Eugene Talas, Director of Hopi Veterans Affairs and endorsed by Hopi Vice Chairman Herman G. Honanie to formally recognize Rex Pooyouma and Orville Wadsworth as additional Hopi Code Talkers. The resolution passed unanimously by a vote of 12-0.
Previously, the Hopi Council passed Resolution H-039-2007 acknowledging and recognizing the following men as Hopi Code Talkers during WWII: Franklin Shupla, Warren Koiyaquaptewa, Frank Chapella, Travis Yaiva, Charles Lomakema, Percival Navenma, Perry Honanie Sr., and Floyd Dann, Sr., all who were assigned to the 323rd Infantry Regiment of the 81st Infantry Division, known as the “Wildcat Division”.
In early Sep. 2010, the Director of the Office of Hopi Veterans Services was notified that Mr. Rex Pooyouma was identified by the U.S. Army Center of Military Studies as a ninth Hopi Code Talker and in Oct., 2010, the Office of Hopi Veterans Services was provided with military documentation citing Mr. Orville Wadsworth as a Hopi Code Talker. Mr. Wadsworth’s name was submitted to the U.S. Army Center of Military Studies for validation and shortly after Veterans Day 2010, Mr. Wadsworth was confirmed as the tenth Hopi Code Talker.
During World War II, Mr. Rex Pooyouma was assigned to the 380th Bombardment Group and Mr. Orville Wadsworth assigned to the 90th Bombardment Group, with the Fifth Bomber Command, Fifth Air Force, U.S. Army Air Force. Both were selected and trained as part of a secret Native American Code Talker communications network to transmit secret-coded messages using their Hopi Lavayii in the Pacific campaign.
On Jan. 18, during the 16th Annual Indian Nations and Tribal Legislation Day at the State Capitol, Senator Jack Jackson, Jr. (D), sponsored and introduced SCR1009, to the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee to formally honor and recognize the Hopi Code Talkers and their contributions to this Country and the State of Arizona. SCR 1009 would also encourage schools to teach about the contributions of the Hopi and other Native American code talkers.
In a packed standing-room only crowd, heartfelt and emotional testimonies were heard from Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa, Hopi Veterans Affairs Director Eugene Talas and family members of the Hopi Code Talkers.
“These Hopi men were humble and did not talk about what they did in combat. A cleansing ceremony is performed to purify them before they return to their homes in the villages. They did not share their stories with anyone and lived the rest of their lives with memories only they knew about”, said Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa. “All Hopi code talkers are now deceased and we feel it is important that the state of Arizona and this great nation of ours know the history of what our people did for this country”
Veterans Affairs Director Eugene Talas said, “The Hopi people are very humble and don’t expect any glory or recognition, but for the most part they are supportive that we are finally recognizing the Hopi code talkers”.
The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted unanimously to endorse a resolution which would formally acknowledge and honor the 10 Hopi Code Talkers. All Senators expressed their thanks to family members of the Hopi Code Talkers and acknowledged support from everyone.
Later that same day at the Joint Protocol Session on the Senate Floor, Chairman Shingoitewa was a featured speaker and spoke of hard economic times on the Hopi Reservation.
“Hopis believe our ways of lives have sustained us this long” said Chairman Shingoitewa. “Oraibi on the Hopi Reservation is the oldest continuously inhabited village on this continent, since 900AD. Economically we may be poor, but we are rich in culture. We are not a gaming Tribe, but we have natural resources on our land which we want to develop. We want to start working with the State Government to develop partnerships. We have the best coal in the country that is clean and efficient and want to support you in renewable energy. We are looking at a rail spur and invite you to help us. We need to start respecting and trusting one another, this can only result in a win-win situation”.
The day was a day of celebration for all Hopis, and as Maxine Wadsworth daughter of Orville Wadsworth tearfully said, “this helps bring closure for us”.
Hopi Tribal Council has recommended the design and purchase of a new bronze plaque to add Mr. Pooyouma and Mr. Wadsworth as Hopi Code Talkers to be displayed at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center monument. (A bronze plaque was previously dedicated on Nov.11, 2009 with names of 8 Hopi Code Talkers)
Hopi Code Talkers:
Perry Honani Sr
Floyd Dann Sr.
For more information, contact Eugene “Geno” Talas at the Hopi Veterans Affairs Office at 928-737-1834 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.