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The Last Comanche WWII Codetalker Has Passed Away

Obituaries Charles Chibitty Code Talker in WWII 2005

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#1 Kevin Street

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 01:26 AM

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Last of WWII Comanche Code Talkers Dies

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Charles Chibitty, the last survivor of the Comanche code talkers who used their native language to transmit messages for the Allies in Europe during World War II, has died. He was 83.

Chibitty, who had been residing at a Tulsa nursing home, died Wednesday, said Cathy Flynn, administrative assistant in the Comanche Nation tribal chairman's office.

The group of Comanche Indians from the Lawton area were selected for special duty in the U.S. Army to provide the Allies with a language that the Germans could not decipher. Like the larger group of Navajo Indians who performed a similar service in the Pacific theater, the Comanches were dubbed "code talkers."

"It's strange, but growing up as a child I was forbidden to speak my native language at school," Chibitty said in 2002. "Later my country asked me to. My language helped win the war and that makes me very proud. Very proud."

He was the last living person who remembered a unique chapter in the history of WWII, but his contribution to the war effort (along with the other Code Talkers) should never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Mr. Chibitty.
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#2 Cheile

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 02:47 AM

it was very moving when, on the finale of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition this year, two of the design team members got to speak to some Navajo Code Talkers.  :cry:

rest in peace, sir. :(

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#3 ZipperInt

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 03:04 AM

RIP, sir.
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#4 Chakotay

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 03:08 AM

The passing of an era.
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#5 Julianus

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 03:15 AM

Thanks for the info, Kevin. I wasn't aware that Comanches had made this type of contribution. They surely deserve to be honored.

#6 D'Monix

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 03:51 AM

Yup. The Comanches served the US Army, while the Navajo served with the US Marines.

That made two world wars in a row that the Allies had bamboozled the enemy by using the native tribal languages, since in WWI the Choctaws served as code talkers as well.

It has been estimated that, although we of the native peoples were still considered 'wards of the government' at the time of WWII, that over 90% of native american males enlisted.  Special schools were set up just so that tribal members could learn to read and write.

The chief of the Iroquois, when sent word of the draft to his tribe, angrily sent word back that his people were ready to enlist and fight, and to 'draft' a warrior people such as his was an acid insult to their courage and warrior heritage.  The tribe further added that it had declared war against Germany during World War I, and did not consider that war ended in their minds.

The Seminoles, ever independent, issued their own declaration of war against Nazi Germany and 'loaned' their men to the US Army.

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Edited by D'Monix, 23 July 2005 - 03:53 AM.


#7 Anastashia

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 06:56 AM

^^^Thank you for that information D' it brought tears to my eyes. I never realized native americans made the commitment in those numbers.

RIP Mr. Chibitty
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#8 waterpanther

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 10:56 AM

May the Blue Road carry you swiftly home, Grandfather.
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#9 Shalamar

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 03:09 PM

Walk in beauty Grandfather.
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#10 Anakam

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 09:01 AM

Wow, thank you for that, D'. :)

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#11 sierraleone

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 09:17 AM

Echoing what the others said, thank you Kevin Street and D'Monix

And all those who fought for us in the WWs

Edited by sierraleone, 25 July 2005 - 09:17 AM.

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#12 Rhiannonjk

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 11:08 AM

Wow, I also never realized that the Comanche were used as code talkers, and that those that were were from Lawton.  Kind of sad on my part, considering I have worked for the Indian Health Service in Lawton!  

All very interesting, and sad that so many memories from this era are dying every day.

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#13 Kosh

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 02:38 PM

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#14 Nonny

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 06:56 PM

Kevin Street, on Jul 22 2005, 10:26 PM, said:

Quote

"It's strange, but growing up as a child I was forbidden to speak my native language at school," Chibitty said in 2002. "Later my country asked me to. My language helped win the war and that makes me very proud. Very proud."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That so many could overcome the horrors of the past and of those schools and do this and other military service for this country so willingly takes my breath away.  This is a lesson in forgiveness that humbles me.  

Rest in peace, Mr Chibitty.  

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#15 D'Monix

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 12:20 PM

I think the view of the Native Americans on why they volunteered in great numbers for WWII, and why they have in just about every war, can be summed up in the words of my great-uncle Ernest Childers: The first native american to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

"The American Indian has only one country to defend, and when you're picked on,
the American Indian never turns his back." --Ernest Childers - 2001



Charles Chibitty and Ernest Childers

#16 foborg

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 10:21 PM

Each time this comes up, I wonder... How strong was this "encryption"? What made it harder to break than the other encryption schemes used during the period?

How does it compare to more modern encryption, if you use computers to break it? Should be vulnerable to statistics attacks?

Edited by foborg, 27 July 2005 - 10:22 PM.

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#17 D'Monix

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 11:30 PM

foborg, on Jul 28 2005, 03:21 AM, said:

Each time this comes up, I wonder... How strong was this "encryption"? What made it harder to break than the other encryption schemes used during the period?

How does it compare to more modern encryption, if you use computers to break it? Should be vulnerable to statistics attacks?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


The Comanche and Navajo language, at the time, was unwritten.  It was passed down orally from generation to generation, so only a tribal member who knew the language could comprehend what was being said.

It was only recently that efforts have been made to write down the Navajo language.

So you have an oral language that only a very tiny percentage of people know, all the words used to describe things were taken from animals or objects, etc.  For example: a reference to america was the word for 'Our Mother.'

No further encryption was needed, unless someone actually knew the Navajo and Comanche languages and the nuances of it then the code becomes almost impossible to break.

It should be noted that Germany was on to this trick after the first world war, because we did it to them then with the Choctaw, and there were reports of german agents who would try to learn the languages of some of the native tribes.  But, that's a lot of tribes to cover. And the Germans still couldn't figure out which tribe's language the US Army used in WWII.

Today there are very few left in any tribe who can speak the tribal language fluently, something that every tribe considers a priority in tribal education.

#18 D'Monix

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 06:50 AM

I should amend myself somewhat when i said 90% plus enlisted, in actuality by 1942 the Draft Board had estimated that 99% of all eligible Native Males from 21-44 had signed up for the draft, and many were ready to enlist on the spot.

Out of an estimated population of 350,000 tribal members remaining, more than 44,000 served, or about 12.6% of all the Native population left in the United States.  In some tribes this ratio was as high as 70% of the tribe in service.

In addition, several hundred women served in Nurse Corps, WACS, WAVES, etc...  And Native Americans left their reservations to go to work in factories to support the war effort even if they could not fight themselves.  It was estimated that the native americans also contributed by buying 12.6 million in war bonds.

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There were many disappointments as well-intentioned Indians were rejected for the draft. Years of poverty, illiteracy, ill- health, and general bureaucratic neglect had taken its toll. A Chippewa Indian was furious when rejected because he had no teeth. "I don't want to bite 'em," he said, "I just want to shoot 'em!" Another Indian, rejected for being too fat to run, said that he had not come to run, but to fight.

In any case, THIS is an excellent link to follow.

#19 sierraleone

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 08:07 AM

^ thanks :)
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#20 Rhea

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 12:02 PM

I always thought this was the most amazing story. I remember how tickled I was when they mentioned this in an episode of Space: Above and Beyond.
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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Obituaries, Charles Chibitty, Code Talker in WWII, 2005

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