Little promoted code talker museum

Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Jan. 5, 2012

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Times file photo

Keith Little

Keith Little, a man who symbolized everything that was good about being a Navajo Code Talker, died Tuesday at the age of 87.

The president of the Navajo Code Talker Association when he died, Little had been involved in promoting the code talkers ever since the association was formed in the early 1970s.

As a leader of the code talkers, he was one of the biggest unifying sources within the group, a person that others would look to for guidance when problems arose.

"He was not one who would take sides like other presidents of the association had done," said Martin Link, a tribal historian who was involved with the creation of the association when he was director of the Navajo Tribal Museum in the 1960s and 70s.

Little joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 at the age of 17 and he was immediately chosen to be trained as a code talker. He wasn't one of the original 29 but was one of the earliest ones who were trained.

After the war, he began a job as one of the top officials at Navajo Forest Products Industries, working to provide the tribe with a lumber business that not only would generate revenue but create jobs for his people.

"He was extremely intelligent," said Link, who worked on a number of projects with Little during the time he worked at NFPI. "He was kind of a fun person. He had a great sense of humor."

After retiring, Little spent a lot of time not only promoting the code talkers but also trying to raise interest in the creation of a Navajo Code Talker Museum, which he hoped would teach future generations the role the code talkers had in winning World War II.

He was also one of the key figures working with Chevron Mining to get a donation of land just east of Window Rock that will become the home of the museum once it is built.

President Ben Shelly on Wednesday called for flags on the reservation to be flown at half-mast until Sunday.

A memorial service is scheduled on Friday at Nakai Hall on the Window Rock fairgrounds at 1 p.m.

The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Fort Defiance at the Family Church Assembly of God. Burial will follow after the service at the family plot in Crystal, N.M., 7 miles north of the chapter house, followed by a reception at the chapter.

Nellie Little and family request that in lieu of floral tributes, donations be made in Keith Little's honor to the Navajo Code Talkers Foundation to support the construction of the museum at or NCTF Museum Donation, PO Box 1266, Window Rock, AZ 86515.

Messages of condolence can be sent to: Nellie Little, PO Box 1001, Navajo, N.M. 87328 or 505-777-2189.

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