A blessing for the Navajo Code Talkers Museum

Updated: Aug 11


FLAGSTAFF, AZ - The National Navajo Code Talkers Day in Tse Bonito, NM, comes together with a ground-breaking ceremony to bless the future site of the Navajo Code Talkers Museum on Sunday, August 14, 2022. A public event is planned to honor and remember the 400 Navajo Code Talkers. They served in WWII and helped win the war in the Pacific, using the Navajo language to create the unbreakable code for radio communication.

This year marks the 80th Anniversary of Navajo Code Talkers first being created by the US Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton. The young Navajo Marines were recruited specifically for their proficiency in the unwritten language and trained to learn the code, then, they continued to Fleet Marine Force Training Center at Camp Elliott in San Diego to advance in radio operations and messaging.

Today, we have three remaining Navajo Code Talkers: Thomas H. Begay, John Kinsel Sr., and Peter MacDonald Sr. As the nation mourned for Samuel F. Sandoval on July 29, 2022, he was the vice president of the non-profit Navajo Code Talkers Museum, Inc. His vision was to see the museum, striving to make it possible.

NCTM board members, volunteers, and sponsors have planned to make August 14th special. The current schedule includes guest speakers: Lt. General David Bellon, US Marine Corps, Former Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis, and Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ, CD1). Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Speaker Seth Damon will also welcome the community and all visitors.

An Honor Run by Navajo YES will be coordinated. The course is a 2-mile fun run starting at 7 am. The parade will begin at 8:15 am. The staging is at 7 am. There will be a designated space for all descendants of Navajo Code Talkers. Families who would like to set up a table or display ‘Sharing our Legacy,’ reserve your space by email:

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez will provide opening remarks followed by posting colors and a pledge of allegiance. The keynote speaker is Lt. General David Bellon, Commander of the Marine Corps Reserve and Marine Forces South. After the official ceremony and museum groundbreaking, the public is invited to travel to the Window Rock airfield to view/tour the USMC MV-22 Osprey. All times are Mountain Daylight Time (MDT).

The ground-breaking ceremony with shovels and key individuals to commemorate the future site of the Navajo Code Talkers Museum will conclude the agenda and a gourd dance, which will end at 6 pm. The public is welcome to be a part of this special day. Bring your chairs and umbrellas.

But the story doesn't stop here. In 1982, a proclamation by President Reagan, House Joint Resolution 444, was approved, designating August 14, 1982, National Navaho Code Talkers Day. President Regan remarked, "Many [Navajo men] have given their lives in the performance of their duty. Their record should be recognized by all Americans."

Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron-764, based out of Naval Air Station Miramar, CA, will be flying an MV-22 Osprey into Window Rock airport on Sunday. The public is welcome to come to the hanger to see the aircraft up close and take photos after 12:30 pm, shortly after it lands.

For visitors who have not attended a gourd dance, it is a traditional dance to honor warriors, veterans, or men of wisdom. In the opening song, everyone usually sits until it is complete, following the main gourd dancers. The men dance inside the arena as the women gather behind the dancers and gently move to the drum beat while wearing a shawl.

The men will have a sash, a gourd, and a fan. Visitors remain under the canopy, outer ring until they are invited to dance by a tribal member offering a gourd or a fan they can use during the dance. As the gourd dance concludes, usually there is a traveling song, no shaking of the gourd, just vocals.

“It’s a warriors dance, all veterans are invited to dance,” said Davis Filfred, coordinator for the gourd dance.

Throughout the United States, many Americans will remember the Navajo Code Talkers and the mission they accomplished by speaking Navajo in WWII. In Navajo Nation, we celebrate and honor what our warriors have done to keep our homeland free, to protect our relatives and Diné Bikéyah, where the Navajo language is still spoken fluently today.

For information about National Navajo Code Talkers Day on August 14, 2022, at Tse Bonito, NM, near the Navajo Nation’s capital in Window Rock, visit or email

The Navajo Code Talkers museum needs your support through donations, partners, and corporate sponsors. Proceeds from the sale of the limited Navajo Code Talkers Challenge Coin go toward the museum funding.

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