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Native Indian Americans, specifically the Navajos, played a crucial role in the Americans' success over the Japanese in the Second World War. They were the ones who provided a secret weapon that could be used to great advantage against the enemy.

Many of the Navajos were living on reservations (places allocated specially for them) in various American states. When they heard that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor and that as a result, America entered the war, many of them decided that they would enlist and fight for America against the Japanese. This was in spite of the fact that years ago, the Navajos had fought against the American military for occupying their lands. Now they were fighting for the same military. Yet the Navajos still felt a sense of patriotism for America and many were determined to defend their country.

What special skill, then, could the Navajos provide ? Well, their uniqueness lay in their language. Like most of the Indians in America, their language was primarily an oral one, passed down from one generation to another. Few people, apart from the Navajos themselves, could understand their language. This meant that the Navajo language could be used as a mode of communication among American troops stationed in different areas. There need not be any fear that the Japanese would intercept and comprehend their messages. in contrast, English did not have this advantage. many young Japanese were educated in American universities and so could easily understand English.

Before the Navajos came along, the Americans used modern technology to encode their messages. This was, however, not fool-proof as the enemy could easily intercept or even imitate this system to send false messages. Many of the officers in the military were sceptical of using the Navajo language as a code. It just seemed too effortless on the part of the Navajo speakers. Some officers even conducted a 'man against machine' test. Messages were sent out using both normal military equipment and through the Navajo speakers. The Navajo speakers sent the messages out to one another safely and accurately each and every time. In an experiment, navy officers were given a period of three weeks to decode a message in Navajo. In spite of that long period of time, they failed.

Working for the American military was not an easy task for the Navajo speakers. Some of them were given bodyguards because some American soldiers could not distinguish them from the Japanese. Their lives were in danger not only because of the enemy, but also because of their own fellow soldiers.

The work of the Navajos was kept a state secret. If any of them were asked what they did in the war, they would answer that they were radiomen. It was only in 1968 that the public came to know about the instrumental role of the Navajos and their important contribution.

   
Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. What is the whole passage about ?
  2. Why are the Navajos called 'Native Indian Americans' ?
  3. What is so unique about the Navajos ?
  4. Why were the Navajos involved in the war ?
  5. Why was it ironical that the Navajos were willing to fight for the Americans ?
  6. Explain the term 'oral language'.
  7. Why would the Navajo language be useful for the Americans during the war ?
  8. What does the word 'sceptical' (paragraph 4) mean ?
  9. What eventually ended the officers' scepticism of using the Navajos' language as a code ?
  10. Why were the Navajos' lives in danger from their own fellow American soldiers ? Explain in your own words.
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Answers
 

1.

It is about how the Navajos helped America to win the second World War.
 

2.

They are the original people of America.
 

3.

They have a unique language.
 

4.

They wanted to defend their country when they heard that America had joined the war after the Japanese's attack on Pearl Harbor.
 

5.

It was ironical because the Navajos were fighting against the American settlers years ago.
  6. It is a language that is passed down from generation to generation verbally, and not through any form of writing.
  7. It was a language that could not be understood by the Japanese or anyone else except the Navajos.
  8. It means 'doubtful'.
  9. They used the Navajo speakers to send out messages against their normal military equipment. They also tried to decode the language but they could not.
  10. Since the Navajos looked like the Japanese, the American soldiers might mistake their identity and kill them.
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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