During World War I, the United States military used Cherokee and Choctaw service men, among others, to relay secret tactical messages based on words from their traditional tribal languages. These became known as ‘Code Talkers’.
Although Native American languages were used during WWI, it wasn’t until WWII that an organized code was developed. The Army gave Code Talkers free rein to develop secret code words that no one outside the group would be able to understand, including speakers of their own language.
It could take a military encryption machine up to four hours to transmit and decode a message, but a Code Talker could achieve the same in less than three minutes and their codes were never broken. Germany sent anthropologists to learn Comanche prior to WWII, but the sheer range of dialects made it impossible.
When the 4th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach in Normandy, they were five miles off course. Their first message was sent in Comanche by Private First Class Larry Saupitty who said: “Tsaakʉ nʉnnuwee. Atahtu nʉnnuwee.” This translates as: “We made a good landing. We landed in the wrong place.”