Sam Billison - Code Talker

America, let's not be
An Ungrateful Nation

Also The Long March - the Navajo "Trail of Tears"

Hosted free by

Diné and USMC Hero: Codetalker Samuel Billison

Hosted by robtshepherd
How do you like my page?
Canyon de Chelly
Canyon de Chelly

US Marine Corps Hero
Diné Codetalker Samuel Billison

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. -- Navajo Code Talker Samuel Billison, USMC, who served on the Navajo Nation Council and was the longtime president of the Code Talker Association, has died.

The Navajo Nation said he died Wednesday of heart complications.

Billison joined a group of Navajo Marines -- the Code Talkers -- who invented a military code based on the Navajo language to confound the Japanese during World War II. They used the code and their native language to communicate troop movements and orders.

Billison, 79, was born in a hogan in Ganado, Ariz., and came from a traditional family, family members said Wednesday. Billison, a medicine man's son, graduated from Albuquerque Indian School and obtained his associate of arts degree from Bacone College in Bacone, Okla, his son, Samuel Billison Jr. said. He earned his doctorate of education from the University of Arizona. Billison has the distinction of being the first Navajo of the Navajo Code Talkers to earn a doctorate degree.

Billison was a certified K-12 teacher, principal and superintendent. He helped educate thousands of Navajo students throughout Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Billison served on the Navajo Nation Council for two terms representing his home chapter of Kinlichee, Ariz.

"Most notably, Dr. Billison was president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association. He served in the United States Marine Corps, Reconnaissance Company, 5th Marine Division, and participated in the capture of Iwo Jima," Samuel Billison Jr. said. (Marine Corps link)

"He also served in the Occupational Forces in Japan after WW II. He has been instrumental in obtaining national recognition of the Navajo Code Talkers and has traveled widely on their behalf making presentations to various organizations on how the code was developed and used during World War II. He even provided the voice for the limited edition GI Joe Code Talker action figure and donated all the proceeds he received to the Navajo Code Talker's Association," Samuel Billison Jr. said.

Dr. Billison is survived by his wife, Patsy Billison, five sons and seven grandchildren.

"It saddens me to hear of the untimely and sudden death of Dr. Billison. He was a maternal grandfather to me. Dr. Billison was a hero to the Navajo, as to the world, because he was Navajo Code Talker. He was also a very honorable leader of his community and his nation. Certainly he will be sorely missed. As we pay last respects I ask all Navajo to pay homage to all his accomplishments for our people and pay homage to his family, who were his roots and his strength.

"Dr. Billison's legacy is forever secured in his contribution to the world as a Navajo Code Talker. The Code Talkers are known throughout the world for their bravery and courage. Dr. Billison traveled to various parts of the world to carry the important message that the Navajo Americans offered their language to allow the citizens of the United States the freedom that we are able to enjoy today," Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley said Wednesday.

Former Navajo President Albert Hale echoed Shirley's sentiments.

"It's a great loss not only to the family but to the nation as a whole, especially for the Code Talkers. He was an advocate for them and I'm sure they'll miss that leadership. He was always very support to me and even when I was the Navajo Nation president, the support was there. He called me his nephew, because of the clan relationship and I've always been honored to have him call me that," Hale, now an Arizona state senator, said.

"The entire Navajo Nation is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our heroes and leaders. We are grateful for the service he provided in using the Navajo language during World War II, that helped the United States government in their efforts to end the war," said Maxine Etter, spokeswoman for Navajo Nation Vice President Frank Dayish Jr., who is a former Marine.

Leo Chischilly, director of the Navajo Nation Veteran Affairs Office and a close friend, expressed shock at the news.

"I got the news this morning that Dr. Billison had passed on. It was very shocking because the last time I saw him, he was in good spirits and looked healthy. That was at installation of Navajo Code Talker memorial statue in Window Rock, the Navajo Nation Capital. I knew him for a long time and we use to talk on the phone. There were times when students would ask for a Navajo Code Talker to speak and I would call him and he would go and share his experience. He served his country and was well-known nationally and internationally. He was a great man and I'm very sad about his passing," Chischilly said.

                        "Semper Fi, Dr. Billison."

A man who is good enough to shed his
blood for his country is good enough
to be given a square deal afterwards.

Teddy Roosevelt, Springfield, Illinois, July 4, 1903

Jihan Gearon
Jihan Gearon, Indigenous Peoples Rights Advocate

The Long March
The Navajo "Trail of Tears"

The Navajo Trail of Tears:   The Navajo [Nabajo] Diné, when pursued by Colonel Kit Carson and his troops, the Navajo defenders took refuge in the red fastness of Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, and held off their enemies as long as food and water lasted. Then, and only then, the Navajo surrendered. Under Carson's prodding, in 1863, the People set off on their trail of tears -- the Long March -- from northern Arizona to Fort Sumner, in southeastern New Mexico, crossing the desert country on foot. Without sufficient wherewithal, without adequate irrigation, and during a time of drought, the experiment failed. The Navajo trudged homeward across the desert, in 1866, from the stinking huts of the Bosque Redondo to the clean air of the Canyon de Chelly. There, beginning with a start-up quantity of sheep, they re-established themselves as shepherds and stockmen, to become, in later years [also becoming renowned silversmiths, lapadaries and artists and entrepreneurs] the most prosperous of all Indian tribes. [from 'American Epic']

Did you know? (Facts about the Navajo) ~ The Yei-bi-chi Dance [as originally performed, this 'cornmeal scattering dance ritual' was physically impassioned, lavish, and extravagant. The dancers leaped and cavorted, invoking the powers of the Spirit on behalf of the people.] For more (House Blessing Ritual - thanks to Michelle!)

Monument Valley [Navajo Tribal Park] within the Navajo Nation provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by empty, sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times over the years for movies, adverts and holiday brochures. Because of this, the area may seem quite familiar, even on a first visit, but it is soon evident that the natural colours really are as bright and deep as those in all the pictures. The valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat, sometimes desolate landscape, interrupted by the crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region. See Shonie De La Rosa`s Navajo site.

Navajo relations with the Belinka - white man - have been a mixed bag for the Navajo People. Once enemies, now friends, the off and on again symbiosis has suffered from past suspicions and official animosities. Economically, culturally, and historically, Navajo society is intertwined with that of mainstream America. The challenge of contemporary Navajo culture is how to maintain a balance of inclusion, with the preservation of the most valued character of Diné distinctiveness and continuity with the revered past.

Navajo:   (Del español americano navajo , procedente del topónimo Navahu, nombre indígena del cauce seco de un río con campos cultivados.) Que pertenece a un pueblo amerindio de America del Norte que habitó en la zona sur de las montañas Rocosas: indio navajo [nabajo]; actualmente los navajos viven en reservas en Texas, Nuevo Mexico y Arizona.

Yellow Dirt
Wisdom of the Great Chiefs: Living Words from Long Ago
Coincidences between native Americans and ancient Semites
There's more to the Diné than a Hillerman best-seller
We Welcome Our Friends to Tony Hillerman country!
Broken Walls (Jonathan Maracle )
Best selling author Tony Hillerman and the Navajo
Codetalkers: Perfect transmissions during battle
NAVAJO - and other Native American military heroes
The Warrior Spirit :: courage and the hero ideal
No greater love ~ Lori Ann Piestewalor, US Marine
Wings of Freedom - Raymond & Tuggy Dunton
AAA Native Arts (North America's first peoples)
George McColm rebukes America : US an Ungrateful Nation?
Marine Corps League, New Mexico: Billie Mitchell, Commandant

USMC Navajo Code Talkers

by Sybil Maimin

The importance of teaching and preserving languages was made critically clear during World War II when Navajo Indians from the American Southwest developed a code based on their native language that literally saved thousands of lives in the Pacific Theater. Called Navajo Code Talkers, the Native Americans were recruited after a marine commanding general in the Pacific was convinced by the son of a missionary who had grown up on a reservation of the potential value of a code based on the obscure tongue. Navajo is a complex, unwritten language that has no alphabet or symbols and includes guttural and nasal sounds, voice intonations, and dialects. Hard to speak, it proved to be an invaluable resource, and utterly confused the Japanese, expert cryptologists who cracked the army and navy codes, but never understood marine communications. In fact, no one has ever broken the Navajo code, including Navajos who were not trained as code talkers and other marines.

Sam Billison, president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, recently reminisced about his wartime experiences in a fascinating talk co-sponsored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Born in a hogan on a Navajo reservation to a sheep-herder father and rug-weaver mother, he was sent to a US government Indian boarding school at age four. Assimilation of the tribes into an English-speaking American way of life was official policy and the goal of the schools. Native children were forbidden to speak their mother tongue and punished if they did so. As with other code talkers, Billison knew Navajo only because he had learned it at home.

By 1942, the Japanese were breaking all US codes, which had to be changed daily. After a test showed the speed and agility with which they could decipher messages, twenty-nine Navajos, ages 14 to 16, were recruited and told to come up with a code. They realized they needed an alphabet, with 3 or 4 words representing each letter. They also needed to create words that were not part of their language, such as battleship, tank, sergeant, and types of airplanes. Objects that operated in the air were named for birds, those that performed on the ground for animals, and those that travel by sea for fish. Dive-bombers were "humming birds," submarines were "iron fish," France was "beard," and squad was "black street." The dictionary they created and code words for military terms had to be memorized and new words created as the need arose. In 1942, there were about 50,000 Navajo tribe members; about 540 served in the marines with 420 of those trained as code talkers. They talked over telephones and radios and transmitted information about tactics, troop movements, and orders. Deployed on ships, tanks, planes, and in the infantry, code talkers participated in every Pacific operation from 1942 to 1945. An officer exclaimed, "Were it not for the Navajos, the marines would never have taken Iwo Jima."

The code talkers work was top secret, even after the war. Billison explains that upon discharge, they were told to simply say, "I fought with the marines" if questioned about their duties. Their accomplishments were finally recognized in 1968, too late for some, laments Billison. "Many were gone and had never told their families what they had done." In his case, his parents had already passed on, so never took pride in their son's wartime contribution. After much pressure, in 2001 the code talker's, or their heirs, were awarded Congressional gold or silver medals. Often asked why the Navajos were willing to serve a country that had so mistreated them, Billison explains, "All native Americans still feel the United States is our country, our mother country, so we fight for it." He credits the GI Bill for his own career trajectory. He went on to earn his doctorate and become an educator. Without it, "I would still be a sheep herder." In fact, he muses, "Who would think that a bunch of sheep herders would create a code that no one in the world could break."

Wisdom of the Great Chiefs: Living Words from Long Ago

There's more to the Diné (Navajo) than a Hillerman best-seller

Welcome to Tony Hillerman country!

Tony Hillerman and the Diné

Tom Gewecke : Navajo Language Literacy

Oliver Lafarge writes "The Laughing Boy"

Codetalkers: Perfect transmissions during battle

NAVAJO - and other Native American military heroes

Futures for Children: education matters for everyone

Aldo Leopold in the great Soutwest

Loretto Chapel: Santa Fe NM

Archæological Conservancy

No greater love: Lori Ann Piestewalor

An Ungrateful Nation (George L McColm)

Even whites have a tribal subconscious. We are all related.       robert shepherd

I will look to the hills
from whence cometh my help

‎"It is estimated that more than 12,000 American Indians served in the United States military in World War I. Approximately 600 Oklahoma Indians, mostly Chotaw and Cherokee, were assigned to the 142nd Infantry of the 36th Texas-Oklahoma National Guard Division. The 142nd saw action in France and its soldiers were widely recognized for their contributions in battle. Four men from this unit were awarded the Croix de Guerre, while others received the Church War Cross for gallantry." [US Naval History & Heritage Command]

Navajo White Feather
Native American isn't blood. It is what is in the heart. The love for the land, the respect for it, those who inhabit it, and the respect and acknowledgement of the spirits and elders. That is what it is to be Indian.

[Navajo White Feather, Navajo Medicine Man]

America's Great
South West

Speaker Boehner swears in Giffords
Arizona's Gabby Giffords
Gabrielle Giffords sworn in

A Symbol of Civility
by Barack Obama

The violence in Tucson earlier this year was made all the more shocking by the quintessentially American scene that it shattered: folks of different backgrounds yet part of the same community gathering to share their hopes and ask questions of their elected representative. To put it simply, they came to do the daily work of democracy.

Before that morning, Gabrielle Giffords may not have been a household name. But the reason she has long been admired by people of all political stripes is that she embodies the best of what public service should be: hard work and fair play, hope and resilience, a willingness to listen and a determination to do your best in a busy world. As hard a battle as Giffords, 40, now fights every day, she's got a strong partner in her husband Mark Kelly, who visits her daily while training to command the space shuttle Endeavour. And she's got the prayers of a nation rooting for her, a model of civility and courage and unity -- a needed voice that cannot return soon enough.

Obama is the 44th President of the United States


Venerable support for taxing the wealthy
Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and Adam Smith all were strong supporters of progressive taxation
that is, holding the wealthy accountable while largely exempting the have-nots

Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz notes that in Cleon Skousen's ideological call for returning to the Founders' ideals, he does not mention the Founders' endorsement of taxing the rich to support the general welfare. Thomas Jefferson, for example, wrote approvingly in 1811 of having federal taxes (then limited to tariffs) fall solely on the wealthy, which meant that "the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings."


"John McCain is indeed a real
American hero." [Barack Obama]

US Marine Corps

Bob Shepherd
friend me (facebook)

last save 12.23.11
last save 03.31.15

For more information email

Lord have mercy on a boy from down in the boondocks