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© 2001 Indian Country Tomorrow
Kiowa Code Talkers Declare War
Forces Take Control of Bridge, Basha's


Inside Basha's Supermarket, after Kiowa takeover. "I hope they bring in some prairie dog," said one customer of the new regime. (NSM)

By Wrenda Worrell
Tomorrow Staff Writer
Monday, November 12, 2001

TUBA CITY, ARIZONA, November 11 - The Kiowa Code Talkers launched a surprise attack on the headquarters of the Navajo Code Talkers here this morning, taking control of Basha's Supermarket, the Radio Shack, the eyewear shop and the Navajo-Hopi footbridge, according to senior citizen Kiowa military officials.

The raid began around 11 a.m., said witnesses, as the eight living Kiowa Code Talkers hopped out of a mini-van and declared war on their Navajo counterparts. Making unintelligible remarks in their native language -- witnesses said the men appeared to be communicating in the code they devised during World War II -- they seized the two-room offices of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, taking the Congressional gold and silver medals that were recently bestowed upon the group.

The men, said witnesses, then made their way towards the Tuba City shopping center, the commerce and cultural nexus of the Navajo Nation. On the way, it was reported they stopped at two dialysis treatment centers because First Officer Thomas C. Silver Horn, 73, apparently needed emergency medical attention.


Navajo Nation Tribel Police at the Tuba City Shopping Center. "If we need to, we'll cut access to the dialysis center," said Lt. Chief Begay. (NSM)

Despite the apparent setback, the Kiowa elders had taken control of much of the shopping center by 1 p.m., according to the Navajo Nation Tribal Police, who were slow to respond because they were finishing up lunch at the Hogan Restaurant when former President Peter MacDonald showed up. The officers wanted to "pay their respects" and pose for pictures, said Chief Johnson Begaye, acknowledging the delay.

Arriving on the scene around 2 p.m., the police found it in "disarray," said Lt. Chief Sammy Begay. "The Kiowa men had used their walkers and canes to subdue the local business owners," said Begay. "Once Basha's fell, the rest were like dominoes."

"It was an awful sight."

According to Navajo Nation intelligence officials, the tribe knew of the attack as early as a month ago. But while the threat was deemed "credible," it was not was forwarded onto President Kelsey Begaye because it was believed the Kiowa would never follow through.

"We figured they'd get as far as the outskirts of Anadarko and give up, just like Kiowas usually do," said a senior official who would only be identified by his last name, Begay. "I guess we were wrong."


"We control the bridge," said Kiowa senior citizen officials. Tuba City, Arizona. (NSM)

Speaking to a crowd of reporters who gathered at ground zero, Kiowa Military Commander M. Steve Momaday, 67, explained the reason for the war. "We're tired of the Navajos claiming they are the only Code Talkers," he said, perched atop the footbridge.

"It's time for the rest of the country, and the world, to find out how the Kiowa helped win World War II," he added, before mumbling something in his native language.

Navajo Code Talker Association President Chizzy Begay-Begaye issued only a short statement from his winter home in Window Rock. He demanded the return of the Congressional awards "shil-loh."

"Kiowa tkele-cho-g debeh-li-zini bi-so-dih," said Begay-Begaye, 70. "Ni-hi-keh di-dlini ta-etin."

Military analysts from KTNN, the voice of the Navajo Nation, said the seizure of the shopping center is a "major win" for the invaders. The Kiowas now control the supply of food, rechargeable batteries and tinted glasses -- without which the Navajo are rendered "helpless," they said.

"The Kiowas knew where to hit," said analyst Jennifer Begay. "They've struck at the very heart of Tuba. All they need to take next is Grey Hills Academy and it's all over, basically.."

And by taking over the bridge, the Kiowas have all but eliminated any possibly support the Hopi might have lent to the Navajo, said commentators. But Begay said the Navajo Code Talkers would have been reluctant to seek help from the Hopi Code Talkers regardless.

"After all," she said, "that would be admitting that there are Hopi Code Talkers. Which there aren't."

Although there is much instability, many residents of Tuba said they are happy with their new overlords. The Kiowa have already slashed prices on cotton candy at Basha's and a 20 percent sale on contact lenses is in the works, bringing much joy to Navajos.

"I don't mind this invasion too much," said Dora Begaye. "There's talk of the Kiowas taking over and annexing [the Hopi village of] Moencopi. That would be cool."

© 2001-2002 Indian Country Tomorrow