Cantigny program looks at code talkers from World War I

Learn how Native Americans played a vital role in World War I

  • The next virtual "Date With History" will discuss how Native American languages were first used by the U.S. Armed Forces to secure military communication during World War I. In the last few months of the war, Choctaw soldiers were instrumental in helping the American Expeditionary Force to win several key battles in the Mousse-Argonne campaign.

    The next virtual "Date With History" will discuss how Native American languages were first used by the U.S. Armed Forces to secure military communication during World War I. In the last few months of the war, Choctaw soldiers were instrumental in helping the American Expeditionary Force to win several key battles in the Mousse-Argonne campaign. Courtesy of First Division Museum

  • Dr. William C. Meadows

    Dr. William C. Meadows

 
 
Updated 5/27/2021 12:00 PM

First Division Museum, 1S151 Winfield Road in Wheaton, is hosting its next virtual "Date With History" featuring "The First Code Talkers: Native American Communicators in World War I" with author Dr. William C. Meadows.

The program will be 7 to 8:15 p.m. Thursday, June 3, on Zoom. It is free, but registration is required at www.fdmuseum.org.

 

"The First Code Talkers" explores the origin of Native American code talking -- the use of Native American languages for secure military communication in the U.S. Armed Forces -- in World War I.

This presentation will look at how the codes developed, their structure, use in combat, all groups currently known to have used them in the Great War, and recognition to the present day.

Included will be information on the Choctaw, Oklahoma Cherokee, Comanche, Osage, Lakota, and groups who have not yet been formally recognized, including the Eastern Band of Cherokee of North Carolina and Wisconsin Ho-Chunk, and their impacts in World War II and tribal communities.

Meadows is the author of six books, five of which focus on Native American veterans. He has also published articles on Native American veterans, code talkers, and Plains Indian art, language, maps, and origins

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In 2004, he testified before a Congressional Senate hearing on the role of Native American code talkers in the United States armed forces, and spoke at the Library of Congress on Native American code talkers in 2005.

He has spoke at several openings of the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit on Native American code talkers, "Native Words, Native Warriors," and other venues. His testimony and research were seminal in the passage of the 2008 Code Talkers Recognition Act (Public Law 110-420), which brought federal recognition and Congressional Gold and Silver medals for all Native American code talkers.

Meadows is the head of the Missouri State Native American Studies Committee. He comes from a family of many Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine veterans.

Illinois teachers can earn 2 PD credits for watching the presentation and filling out a short PD activity. This program includes built-in closed captioning through Zoom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The First Division Museum is currently open Wednesday through Sunday. Entry is included with Cantigny's parking fee, but advance ticketing is required to enforce temporary visitation limits. Masks are required.

The First Division Museum, part of the Robert R. McCormick Foundations, promotes public learning about America's military heritage and affairs through the history of the "Big Red One" -- the famed 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army.

The museum's main exhibit hall, "First in War," transports visitors to the trenches of World War I, the beaches of World War II and the jungles of Vietnam. A second exhibit hall, "Duty First," explores the 1st Infantry Division's history in more recent times.

The Robert R. McCormick Research Center, open to the public, houses the museum's library, archival and photo collections. Outside, tanks from every era are interpreted, along with artillery pieces and a personnel carrier.

Solemn memorial markers and commemorative statuary also command visitors' attention. In 2020, the museum launched "Footsteps of The First," a travel program, in partnership with Academic Travel Abroad. The program's inaugural trip is to Normandy and other key sites in Western Europe, Sept. 5-16, 2021. Full details, including registration, are on the museum website.

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