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Native American Nations and the Last Navajo Code Talker

Updated on February 20, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on indigenous peoples for over four decades.

Eight Navajo Code Talkers in World War II, members of groups eager to help their country.
Eight Navajo Code Talkers in World War II, members of groups eager to help their country.

Chester Nez, who died in June 2014 at age 93, was the last survivor of the group of 29 original Navajo Code Talkers recruited from the American West, specifically New Mexico. In 2001, he received the Congressional Gold Medal, many years after his service in WWII.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chester Nez during the war.Reservation in the states of the Four Corners.
Chester Nez during the war.
Chester Nez during the war. | Source
Reservation in the states of the Four Corners.
Reservation in the states of the Four Corners. | Source
Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII
Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII

This book is informative and fascinating, because it is the only one about the topic written by one of the Code Talkers himself. He provides perspectives that none of us have considered in the past and brings increased respect for not only Navajos, but all the Native American Nations that sent volunteer Code Talkers to fight for the United States in WWII. This book makes you feel as though you were there. This is a one-of-a-kind story.

 

This Hubs features the Native North American Nations, otherwise known as Indigenous Peoples or First Nations in Alaska, Hawaii, and the American West and Coastal West.

Anthropologists and specialists in human migration feel that these are direct descendants of the peoples who traveled across the Bering Strait land mass long ago, from Far Northern Europe and Northern Asia.

One marker indicating this migration includes the changes seen in the depiction of the Thunderbird as we examine the arts from Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington southward to New Mexico. Similarly, representations of the reindeer who pulls the sun up from the horizon each morning in Far Northern European legends changes into a dragon as we examine arts from Northern Europe across the globe through Mongolia, Siberia, Northern China, and Korea.

The Thunderbird and his junior brother are often portrayed in Indigenous carved cedar poles and in cedar masks among Pacific Northwest Indigenous groups.

Sources

Personal Studies

  • Honoring our Ancestors Pow Wow: Wayne OH; 2015
  • Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow: Dayton OH; 2016
  • Shawnee Woodland Pow Wow: Bellefontaine, OH; 2010 - 2017
  • United Remnant Band of the Shawnee Nation, Storyteller presentations: Ohio State Fair and Bellefontaine OH: 1970 - 2014.

Websites:

  • Indian Pueblo Culture Center; www.indianpueblo.org/ Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  • School for Advanced Research: http://sarweb.org/ Retrieved February 15, 2017.

Non-Coastal Western Tribes

Northern Western Non-Coastal States

A
Idaho:
Idaho, USA

get directions

B
Montana:
Montana, USA

get directions

C
Wyoming:
Wyoming, USA

get directions

Nez Perce Wing Dress - Often Found In Idaho

The wing dress came from the tail dress or two hides dress. The T-shaped yoke extends into cape-like sleeves. A printed cotton shirt or skirt was worn under the wing dress.
The wing dress came from the tail dress or two hides dress. The T-shaped yoke extends into cape-like sleeves. A printed cotton shirt or skirt was worn under the wing dress. | Source

Idaho

  • Kootenai Tribal Council
  • Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee
  • Northwestern Band of Shoshoni Nation: Blackfoot, Idaho
  • Shoshone-Bannock Tribe

Montana

Wyoming

  • Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Nation: Fort Washakie WY
  • Northwestern Shoshoni: Rock Springs WY

The Chicken Dance of the West is different from that of the eastern nations, east of the Mississippi River.

Central Western Non-Coastal States

A
Nevada:
Nevada, USA

get directions

B
Utah:
Utah, USA

get directions

C
Colorado:
Colorado, USA

get directions

The earliest inhabitants of Arizona were our people of the Pueblo Culture, who migrated northward and eastward in search of resources and inhabiting the Southwest. The reason they migrated from California into what became Arizona before they entered Nevada is unknown.

Some archaeologists feel that Chinese exploration from 200 BC to 499 AD on the West Coast spread inward to Nevada and Arizona, as a larger group split into two smaller bands; and then proceeded to Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado to create our future groups of the Pueblo, Hopi, Ute, and Zuni.

These bands than gathered near water at the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek. A commercial and recreational Riverwalk on the Arkansas River is prominent there today. At least 21 separate groups live in Arizona.

Nevada Peoples

  • Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Tribes
  • Reno-Sparks Indian Colony: Washoe, Paiute, Shoshone
  • Skull Vally Goshutes
  • Si-Te-Cah legends: Paiutes describe a tall tribe, 6.5 to 8 feet, with red hair. They were cannibals and may have built pyramids in Churchill County.
  • Washo Nation: Lake Tahoe region.

Utah Peoples

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Pueblo Culture ruins near Pueblo, Colorado.Anasazi pueblo ruins in the cliffs.Petroglyphs of Native Americans found in Colorado.
Pueblo Culture ruins near Pueblo, Colorado.
Pueblo Culture ruins near Pueblo, Colorado. | Source
Anasazi pueblo ruins in the cliffs.
Anasazi pueblo ruins in the cliffs. | Source
Petroglyphs of Native Americans found in Colorado.
Petroglyphs of Native Americans found in Colorado. | Source

Colorado Peoples

  • Southern Ute Tribe
  • Ute Mountain Ute

Southern Non-Coastal States

A
Arizona:
Arizona, USA

get directions

B
New Mexico:
New Mexico, USA

get directions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Navajo woman and girl, sharing culture.Navajo Mural
Navajo woman and girl, sharing culture.
Navajo woman and girl, sharing culture. | Source
Navajo Mural
Navajo Mural | Source

Arizona Peoples

Many indigenous nations living in Arizona are active in businesses, including:

  • Ak-Chin Indian Community: Ak-Chin Farms and the Tribal Government.
  • Yavapai-Apache Nation : Cliff Castle tourist attraction.
  • Navajo Nation: Tourism has the major role in the Navajo economy, along with Diné College.
  • Cocopah Indian Reservation: Tourism and Agriculture.
  • Colorado River Indian Tribes: Blue Water in Parker.

Navajo blanket made in the 1800s.
Navajo blanket made in the 1800s. | Source
  • White Mountain Apache Tribe: Timber, lumber, hardware, and skiing.
  • Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation: Agriculture, a sand and gravel center, and gasoline sales.
  • Fort Mojave Indian Tribe: Mojave Valley and Laughlin, NV businesses.
  • Gila River Indian Community: Gila River farms, sand and gravel operations, and an industrial park.
  • Havasupai Indian Reservation: Tourism and related arts, crafts, and retail.
  • Hopi Tribe: Agriculture and IT businesses.
  • Hualapai Tribe: Their economy centers on tourism, cattle ranching, timber sales, and arts/crafts.
  • Kaibab-Pauite Tribe: Economy is based on tourism, livestock, and agriculture - especially a 1,300 tree fruit orchard.
  • Pascua Yaqui Tribe: Landscaping, adobe blocks, and bingo.
  • Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community: A diverse economy.
  • San Carlos Apache Reservation: Lumber, tourism, cattle, recreation, and retail.
  • Tohono O'odham Nation: Tourism, an industrial park ,and a resort.
  • Tonto Apache Tribe: Businesses in Payson
  • Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe: Tourism, gaming, retail activities, a resort, a business park, and a shopping center.
  • Fort Yuma-Quechan Tribe: Agricultural, tourism, a sand and gravel operation; RV parks, a grocery store, and a museum.
  • San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe: Livestock and agriculture.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Zuni Shalako ceremonial prarade at the Museum of Man in San Diego, California
Zuni Shalako ceremonial prarade at the Museum of Man in San Diego, California
Zuni Shalako ceremonial prarade at the Museum of Man in San Diego, California | Source

New Mexico

New Mexico indigenous nations are often grouped into smaller units called "Pueblos." In other Native American Nations, the small groups are called bands or communities.

The state supports at least 19 different Pueblos, 3 Apache tribes, and the Navajo Nation.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Navajo WeaverZuni woman with a large lap loom
Navajo Weaver
Navajo Weaver | Source
Zuni woman with a large lap loom
Zuni woman with a large lap loom | Source

Native Alaskans

A
Alaska:
Alaska, USA

get directions

From Alaska, this is a woman in a fringed Chilkat blanket, a Hamatsa neck-ring and a mask representing a deceased relative who had been a shaman.
From Alaska, this is a woman in a fringed Chilkat blanket, a Hamatsa neck-ring and a mask representing a deceased relative who had been a shaman. | Source

Five major Native American nations comprise the Alaskan indigenous peoples, but there are multiple dozens upon dozens of bands and smaller independent groups in the state. The people of the nations and groups number around 100,000 altogether. The 5 major nations are:

The peoples living along the northern shores of Alaska are moving farther inland as the warming climate melts the pack ice and floods the shoreline. The fishing industry is declining somewhat as well.

All in all the native peoples of Alaska are more like those in the Pacific Northwest of the USA and Canada than the Native Americans that migrated southward and into the rest of America. The Southwest nations are different in arts and culture than the states to the north, but threads of similarity can be seen.

Fire Mask Dancers portray the thunderbird  in Alaska and the Far North
Fire Mask Dancers portray the thunderbird in Alaska and the Far North | Source

Native Hawaiians

A
Hawaii:
Hawaii, USA

get directions

Native Hawaiians know themselves as the Kanaka Maoli people and are descendants of early Polynesians that migrated to the Hawaiian Islands around 1500-2000 years ago, as early as near the birth of Christ.

Some other Native Americans and Alaskan indigenous peoples have moved into Hawaii as well.

A Tribute to Kanaka Maoli

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and Additions

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for commenting, jacksson47!

    • jacksson47 profile image

      John Reeder 

      4 years ago from Reedley, CA

      Great Hub, lots of information.

    • justom profile image

      justom 

      8 years ago from 41042

      Really nice hub with great info. When you have time check out my hub for some nice vectored art my son Justin did of a few of the code talkers and some related stuff. Peace!!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      As of the 1990 US Census, there were about 2,000,000 Native Americans in USA alone, in may nationns, bands, pueblos, and independent groups. etc. We have over half the US to go, followed by Mexico, Central and South America and the West Indies. Much fun yet!

      There are even some Native Americans migrated to Greenland. e may end up going around the Polar North globally! I wonder if Santa is part of this... Haha.

    • profile image

      Wehzo 

      10 years ago

      Very good Patty, I, like Zsuzsy Bee, will have to go back and start from the first one.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      I'm thinking you have just about covered all there is. I have to go back all eight hubs and see who you could have left out???

      I just know I'm in for a good read when you publish a new article.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      And there's still much more to follow... :)

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 

      10 years ago from Sydney

      The stories and the history gets better and better

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Tahnk you! The cultures are great, aren't they?

    • gabriella05 profile image

      gabriella05 

      10 years ago from Oldham

      Astonishing music pictures every thing brilliant

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