Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, between Arizona and Utah, USA
© AWL Images/Danita Delimon
Welcome to Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii. A monumental view of 'Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii'
These stunning red sandstone formations here in Monument Valley, on the border of the US states of Arizona and Utah, might make movie fans think of Westerns. But in Navajo, Monument Valley is known as Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii (the Valley of the Rocks) and this particular view was taken from Hunts Mesa in the Navajo Nation, a large Native American reservation spread across three US states.
During World War II, an elite team of Navajos joined the US Marine Corps to help develop an indecipherable code using common words and phrases from their tribal language – for example some weapons were assigned Navajo bird names. Code Talkers could encode, send and decode a three-line English message text, without error, in roughly 20 to 150 seconds. It took machines of the day at least 30 minutes, sometimes longer, to do the same thing.
Some say the US would not have prevailed at the fiercely fought Battle of Iwo Jima had it not been for the Navajo Code Talkers. Navajo Code Talkers’ Day was established on 14 August 1982 to commemorate the elite team as well as other Native Americans and indigenous people who had developed codes used in other conflicts.