Navajo Code Talkers frank about movie
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"Windtalkers," the $100 million-plus flop about Marines assigned to protect the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II, was warmly received by many in the Navajo community.

But that doesn't mean the Code Talkers themselves were entirely satisfied with their portrayal, or lack of it. Although the movie was billed as the story of Native soldiers, it didn't focus on the Navajo men.

"They did not show very much of how the code was made and how we learned it," Chester Nez, one of the five surviving Code Talkers out of the original 29, told The London Guardian.

Adam Beach, who is Canadian Aboriginal, played the lead Navajo role. According to movie promotional material, he spent six months with a Navajo language coach.

"He didn't speak Navajo very good," Virgil Brown, another Code Talker said, "which is a pity."

A key theme of the movie was that the Marines were protecting the Navajo Code Talkers from being discovered by the enemy. According to Nez, the protection was needed -- but from fellow soldiers who thought they were Japanese.

"So they assigned men to see that we were not bothered by our own men - guards to protect us from American riflemen, who mistook us for the enemy," Nez is quoted as saying.

Glossed over was the historical and ironic backdrop of the use of the Navajo language. Federal policy since the late 1800s was to eradicate Native languages and punish children who spoke them at Bureau of Indian Affairs schools.

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Secret army (The London Guardian 8/23)