10 1. HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION Figure 1.3. Newton’s Photograph from the Smithso- nian Exhibit on American Indian Code Talkers. http:// www.sites.si.edu/images/exhibits/Code\%20Talkers /pages/privates_jpg.htm language were given specific code names, while others were spelled out. For example, “dive bomber” became “gini” (the Navajo word for chicken hawk). Even when they would spell words out, the word remained complex. Each English letter was assigned a corresponding English word to represent it and then that word was translated into Navajo. For example, z became “zinc” which then became “besh-do-gliz”, and those letters that were frequently used were given three word variations so that a pattern, if decrypted by the enemy, could not easily be found. As an indication of its complexity, consider the code in a message sent in 1944: “A-woh Tkin Ts-a Yeh-hes Wola-chee A-chen Al-tah-je-jay Khut”, which translated means, “Tooth Ice Needle Itch Ant Nose Attack Ready or now” corresponding to the decrypted message, TINIAN Attack Ready. The Navajo code talkers could take a three-line English message and encode, transmit, and decode it in twenty seconds. A machine would take thirty minutes. Their unique skills were an important asset in the victories in WWII. Some Japanese thought it could be a tribal language, and there were cases where Navajo soldiers in POW camps were tortured and forced to listen to these encrypted messages. But all they could tell was that it was just incoherent jumbled words in Navajo. In order to decode the transmission, one had to be fluent in English, Navajo, and know the secret
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