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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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New Mexico State Honors Program to present Navajo Code Talkers

Navajo Code Talkers Roy Hawthorne and Sam Billison will speak at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, in New Mexico State University's Corbett Center Ballrooms.

storians have said that the Navajo Code Talkers played a pivotal role in the U.S. victory in the pacific in World War II. Their native dialect was the basis for an extremely successful combat communications code used by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Hawthorne and Billison's appearance is part of the University Speaker's Series, which brings prominent speakers to Las Cruces every year. No tickets are required and admission is free.

The Navajo's unwritten language was understood outside the tribe by fewer than 30 non-Navajos at the time of WWII. The size and complexity of the language made the code extremely difficult to comprehend. Despite prior Japanese successes in code breaking, the Navajo code, transmitted only by Navajo Marines, defied them. The code remained secret until its declassification in 1968, more than two decades after the Allied victory.

Hawthorne and Billison will talk about the true-life experiences that inspired the movie "Windtalkers," starring Nicholas Cage and directed by John Woo.

The University Speaker's Series, presented by the Honors Program and the Office of the Provost, strives to bring to Las Cruces distinguished lecturers who will appeal to a broad community audience. Previous speakers have included Native American author N. Scott Momaday, neurologist Oliver Sacks, primatologist Jane Goodall and social activist Gloria Steinem.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer, also will be presented this year by the Honors Program. He will speak at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, 2004, at the Pan American Center. Kennedy's presentation will be titled "Our Environmental Destiny."

For more information about the Speaker's Series, call the Honors Program at (505) 646-2005.