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Choctaw Telephone Squad, Camp Merritt, New Jersey, photograph by Dr. Joseph K. Dixon, June 7, 1919

Choctaw and other American Indian Code Talkers aided the United States during World War I by transmitting messages over German-tapped telephone and telegraph lines in their native languages. They performed a similar service again in World War II. Congress honored Code Talkers from both wars with Congressional Gold Medals to the Navajo and other American Indian tribes in 2001 and 2013, respectively.

Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University

Choctaw Telephone Squad

Serving the Nation: American Indians

Though they were not granted the rights of U.S. citizenship, approximately 10,000 American Indian men volunteered to serve in World War I. In recognition of their wartime service, Congress passed the Citizenship Act of 1919, conferring citizenship upon American Indian World War I veterans. In 1924 Congress approved legislation to grant citizenship to all American Indians. More than 40,000 American Indians served in World War II.

Be it enacted, . . . That every American Indian, who served in the Military or Naval Establishments of the United States during the war . . . shall . . . be granted full citizenship with all the privileges pertaining thereto.

H.R. 5007, An Act Granting Citizenship to Certain Indians, September 27, 1919