Louis Levi Oakes, Last of the Mohawk Code Talkers, Dies at 94


Honorably discharged in 1946, he returned to the reservation and would travel to Buffalo for jobs as an ironworker. He married Annabelle Mitchell, who was also a Mohawk, in the late 1940s, and later joined the reservation’s public works department.

The efforts of code talkers from other Native American backgrounds have not been as well documented as those of the Navajo, and less has been known about their contributions to the war effort, although that is changing, Mr. Hatch said.

The code talker program was not fully declassified until 1968, and even then it took decades for the nation to become aware of the contributions of indigenous soldiers in World War II. Their service has since been chronicled in books and in the 2002 film “Windtalkers,” which starred Adam Beach and Nicolas Cage. The code talkers also inspired a G.I. Joe action figure, which speaks in both English and Navajo.

In 2001, President George W. Bush presented the 29 creators of the Navajo code with the Congressional Gold Medal, most of them posthumously. Chester Nez, the last of that group, died in 2014.

There are five surviving Navajo code talkers, said Hope MacDonald Lone Tree, a staff assistant to the speaker of the Navajo Council.

In 2008, Congress passed the Code Talkers Recognition Act, and in 2016, Mr. Oakes, along with other Mohawk code talkers, was awarded the Congressional Silver Medal for his service. By then he was the last living Mohawk code talker. Last December, he appeared at the Canadian House of Commons and met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In addition to his granddaughter, Mr. Oakes is survived by three daughters, Diane Swamp and Dora and Debra Oakes; four sons, Louis, Raymond, Wallace and Joseph; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. His wife died in 2012.


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