Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC - VOA's radio magazine in SpecialEnglish.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today, we celebrate NativeAmerican Heritage Month in the United States by:
playing some award-winning Indian music ...
answering a question about American Indians ...
and reporting about a group of Navajo Indians recently honoredfor their work during World War Two.
Navajo Code Talkers
Members of the American Indian Navajo tribe have been honored forhelping the United States and Allied forces defeat Japan in WorldWar Two. Twenty-nine members of the Navajo tribe receivedCongressional Gold Medals last summer for creating a secret code.Last week, three-hundred more tribe members received CongressionalSilver Medals for their part in the Code Talkers program. Jim Tedderexplains.
The Code Talkers helped shorten World War Two for allied forcesin the Pacific. They used the Navajo language of their Indian tribeas a secret weapon.
Twenty-nine Navajos developed a secret communications system. Itpermitted American Marine commanders to use their radios to giveorders, report about troop movements and plan operations. Thecommanders knew that Japanese soldiers listening to thecommunications would never be able to understand what was said.
p>Navajo is a complex language. It is extremely difficult to learnto speak. In Nineteen-Forty-Two, only a few people who were notNavajos could speak it at all.
The code talkers used Navajo words to express the meaning oforders given by Marine commanders. For example, different kinds ofplanes were represented by Navajo words for different kinds ofbirds. A bombing plane was called a "jay-sho", or buzzard in Navajo.A fighter plane was a "da-he-tih-hi", or humming bird. Other animalsrepresented other words. "Chay-da-gahi" is the word for turtle inNavajo. In code talk, it meant a tank.
More than four-hundred code talkers served during the SecondWorld War. The enemy never broke their code. One American generalreportedly said the Marines could not have captured the island ofIwo Jima without the help of the code talkers.
The code was kept secret for many years after the war. Militaryofficials considered it so valuable that no one was permitted totalk about it until Nineteen-Sixty-Nine.
After that, the code talkers spoke about their work. They saidthey were proud to be United States Marines, or in their language,"Washindon be Akalh B-kosilai."
We have two VOA listener questions about American Indians. BinhThanh Nguyen from Vietnam asks why Native Americans are known asIndians. Khalid from Morocco asks about the political position ofIndians in the United States today.
The European explorer Christopher Columbus gave the name"Indians" to the native peoples of North and South America. Hethought he had reached a place called the Indies. In time, the termsAmerican Indian and Indian became widely used.
About two-million-five-hundred-thousand Native Americans andAlaskan Natives live in the United States today. They belong to morethan five-hundred-fifty different tribes. They still speak more thantwo-hundred languages.
Some Indians live in cities and farm areas. Aboutfive-hundred-thousand live on two-hundred-seventy-five reservations.A reservation is the land given to the tribe by the federalgovernment. Most tribes were moved to reservations in theEighteen-Hundreds when the government took their traditional lands.
American Indians are citizens of the United States. They have thesame rights to vote and to be elected to public office as othercitizens. An American Indian served as vice president of the UnitedStates under President Herbert Hoover. He was Charles Curtis, a KawIndian from the state of Kansas. Indians have been elected to theUnited States Congress for more than eighty years. One Indian nowserving in Congress is Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado.He is a member of the northern Cheyenne tribe.
Indians must obey federal, state and local laws when they are noton the reservation. On the reservation, only federal laws and triballaws are in effect. Most tribal officials are elected by members ofthe tribe.
Each of the tribes has its own culture and history. The Seneca ofthe northeast woodlands, the Navajo of the desert southwest, and theInuit of the snowy Arctic have different ways of living. Yet all thetribes share major concerns. They are trying to keep theirtraditional cultures alive while improving the living conditions oftribal members.
Last month, the Native American Music Association held its fourthyearly awards ceremony. The awards honor musicians, singers andother Native American music makers. Shirley Griffith plays music bysome of the winners.
Robert Mirabal won the most awards given by the Native AmericanMusic Association. He was named Artist of the Year and Songwriter ofthe Year. His album "Music from a Painted Cave" was also honored asRecord of the Year. Here Robert Mirabal performs a song from thatalbum. It is called "Ee-You-Oo."
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The Native American Music Association honored Annie Humphrey withthe award for Best Female Artist of the Year. Mizz Humphrey grew upon the Ojibwe Indian reservation in Minnesota. Later she served inthe United States Marines. She says her music is about a number ofhuman conditions -- not just the Indian experience.
Here she sings the title song of her album "The Heron Smiled."
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The Native American Music Association gave a special award to theNeville Brothers. It is called the Living Legend Award. Aaron, Art,Charles and Cyril Neville have celebrated Native American culturefor many years. We leave you now with the Neville Brothersperforming "Sacred Ground."
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This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And Ihope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC-VOA'sradio magazine in Special English.
This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Nancy Steinbach, PaulThompson and Caty Weaver. Our studio engineer was Bill Barber. Andour producer was Paul Thompson.