Mon, Oct 28


Michael Gorman Gallery

Coming Together | The Navajo Code Talker Legacy

First ever art show featuring the artwork of the Navajo Code Talkers and their descendants

Registration is Closed
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Coming Together | The Navajo Code Talker Legacy

Time & Location

Oct 28, 2019, 12:00 PM – Oct 30, 2019, 7:00 PM

Michael Gorman Gallery, 103 East Plaza, Taos, NM, USA

About the Event

As the United States entered WWII in 1941, the Japanese had broken U.S. diplomatic and military codes, leaving no secure means of communication in the pacific. On May 4th, 1942 the Marine Corps recruited a platoon of 30 Navajos to develop and test the feasibility a code using the Navajo Language. This group would go through Marine Recruit training at Camp Pendleton as platoon 382 - the first “All-Indian, All-Navajo” platoon.

The “First Twenty Nine” developed a code of approximately 200 terms using the Navajo language. By the war’s end the code had grown to about 700 terms and 400+ Navajos had been recruited and trained as Code Talkers (MOS 642).

The Navajo Code remained classified until 1968 and is still the only military verbal code never to be broken.


This is a show meant to tell the story of the Code Talkers, not to tell the war stories, but to tell what they won...

When the war ended in 1945 the Code Talkers were given the chance to return home. Some remained in the Marine Corps serving through the occupation and even into the Korean War, others settled across the country to pursue careers in the civilian life, and many returned to Dinetah.

While fighting in the pacific, they were treated as equals among the Marines, told that their language and culture were important and helping win the war. But many had sad reminders upon returning home, that "Indians" weren't even citizens of their own land. Navajos were not allowed to vote until 1948 and could not celebrate their return home with friends in a bar, unless those friends were white.

A few dedicated their lives to art, like my Cheii Carl Gorman, and Chester Nez - just to name a couple. They used their art to share beauty with the world. Some of it may have been healing for them, some helped open the doors for Navajo artists today to carry on traditional arts and explore new ideas and mediums in art.

Now, 74 years after the end of the war, a few of these descendants are coming together to showcase their talents and honor their elders who fought and paved the way for ours and the next generations to be free to explore these creative avenues.

The show will feature the original artwork of two Navajo Code Talkers: Chester Nez and Carl N. Gorman as well as the art of Teddy Draper III, April Kristine Tsosie, R.C. Gorman, and Michael Gorman (Additional artists may be involved)

There will be an artists' reception for this show and other artists in the gallery on Friday September 6th 2019 from 4-7pm at the Michael Gorman Gallery located at 103 E Plaza in Taos, New Mexico.

More about the Artists:

Chester Nez - Was the last surviving member of the “First Twenty-Nine” Navajo Code Talkers. After returning home from WWII he attended school at Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansa, and then the University of Kansas. He enlisted in the Marine Reserves and was called back for service in 1950 where he was stationed in Hawaii during the Korean War. He had a goal to become a commercial artist. He studied art and after returning from Hawaii found work at the VA hospital in Albuquerque. His art training had made him excellent at matching paints (in the days before computer mixing), and when the chapel needed repainting, he took a month to design and paint a series of Navajo Ye'iis. Chester passed in 2014 and was laid to rest with full military honors and with the Commandant of th