Lance Cpl. Jeanette E. Fernando holds a jar of sand from Iwo Jima where her grandfather served as a Navajo Code Talker.
Photo: Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez, U.S. Marine Corps

Military Service

Long before they were granted citizenship in 1924, Diné (Navajo) soldiers served the United States with honor. Beginning in 1868, soon after the return to Dinétah (the Diné homeland) from Bosque Redondo, the United States military began to enlist Navajo Scouts to serve at Ft. Wingate for six-month terms. Between 1873-1895, 300-400 Navajo men participated as U. S. Army Indian Scouts. By 1895, this group eventually merged and joined regular army units as the military continued to recruit from across Indian Country. The Navajo Code Talkers emerged from this long affiliation with the Army. They were officially deactivated in 1947, two years after the end of World War II.  Among ethnic groups, Native Americans have the highest record of service per capita. This distinction is due in part to warrior traditions and cultural values that sustain Native soldiers while they serve and when they return.