October 7, 2017 9:44:26 PM
"Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I" is the title of a special public program to be held Thursday, Oct. 12 at Mississippi State University.
To begin at 7 p.m. in the John Grisham Room of Mitchell Memorial Library, the free event is among three the university is holding to commemorate the centennial of America's entry into World War I, a then-unprecedented conflict that took some 16 million lives between 1914 and 1918.
A general discussion will follow a screening of "Choctaw Code Talkers," an hour-long documentary released in 2010 by Native American Public Telecommunications Inc. Representatives of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will be in attendance to share information on their cultural heritage.
As Navajo Nation members would during World War II, descendants of Mississippi's original residents answered the call to use their unique language for communicating U.S. military secrets.
According to one account, the Choctaws "so flabbergasted the enemy that weird theories started to come out about it. One was the belief that the Americans were able to invent a device that allowed them to speak underwater."
In the 1990s, their service was recognized with a memorial at the Choctaw Capitol Building in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma. In 2008, the Code Talkers Recognition Act signed by President George W. Bush finally gave national recognition to their important contributions.
For complete information on MSU's WWI commemorations during the fall semester, contact campus organizer Sarah McCullough, MSU Libraries' cultural heritage project coordinator, at 662-325-2506 or [email protected]
This program is part of "World War I and America," a two-year national initiative of Library of America presented in partnership with The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and other organizations, with generous support from The National Endowment for the Humanities.
For more about the documentary, see visionmakermedia.org/films/choctaw-code-talkers; about those who "talked," choctawnation.com/history-culture/people/code-talkers.