Vital Communication: Native American Code Talkers


Students will write an explanatory text summarizing research on the Native American Code Talkers.

Coin Type(s)

  • Dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Native American $1 Coins


Students will write an explanatory text summarizing research on the Native American Code Talkers.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts


  • 2nd
  • 3rd

Class Time

  • Sessions: One
  • Session Length: 30-45 minutes
  • Total Length: 0-45 minutes


  • Small groups
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic understanding of explanatory texts including introductions, supporting facts and conclusions. Students should also have a basic understanding of Native Americans, World Wars I and II and basic communication at those times (radios, etc).

Terms and Concepts

  • Native American $1 Coin
  • Code Talkers
  • Reverse (back)
  • Obverse (front)




Worksheets and Files (PDF)

Lesson Steps

  1. Display and examine the "2016 Native American $1 Coin" reverse image.
  2. American $1 Coin" reverse once again. Explain that this coin is worth as much as a dollar bill.
  3. Ask the students what information may be inferred from the inscriptions. As students make their inferences, list them on the board or chart paper.
  4. Explain that the 2016 Native American $1 Coin commemorates the contributions of the Native American Code Talkers in World War I and World War II. The reverse (tails side) design features two helmets—one in the shape of the U.S. helmets used in World War I and the other in the shape of a World War II helmet. Next to them are the inscriptions "WWI" and "WWII." Behind the helmets are two feathers that form a "V," symbolizing victory, unity and the important role that the code talkers played in both world wars. Additional inscriptions are "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "$1" and "CODE TALKERS."
  5. Explain that it is estimated that more than 12,000 Native Americans served in the U.S. military during World War I. In World War II, more than 44,000 Native Americans, out of a total Native American population of less than 350,000, served with distinction in both the European and Pacific theaters. Hundreds played a vital communications role in both world wars. This select group of Native Americans was asked to develop and use secret battle codes using their native languages to communicate troop movements and enemy positions. Their efforts saved many lives because America's enemies were unable to decode their messages.
  6. Continue by explaining that native languages came to play an increasingly vital role in the U.S. war effort in both World War I and II. Several tribes provided Native American speakers for telephone squads on the French battlefields in World War I. Additional tribes sent soldiers to join the code talkers of World War II, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and the Pacific. The languages used by American Indians greatly assisted their fellow American soldiers in the heat of battle by transmitting messages in unbreakable battle codes.
  7. Using the websites listed in "preparations," have a class discussion about the impact of the Native American contributions to World Wars I and II.
  8. Hand out the "Vital Communications – Native American Code Talkers Checklist and Worksheet" and explain that the class will write a short explanatory sample of writing that summarizes the contributions of Native Americans in World Wars I and II.
  9. Explain that their summary must have the following: An introduction, facts supporting a point and a conclusion.
  10. Have the students complete the checklist as they work.
  11. Collect the worksheets.

Differentiated Learning Options

Provide printed texts for review during assignment.

Allow students to use computers to write text.

Have students work in pairs or groups.


Explore other contributions by Native Americans by visiting the U.S. Mint's Native American Coins and Medals page.

Have students design their own coin symbolizing a contribution from Native Americans.

Locate and view videos of Native American Code Talkers.

Technology Extensions

Have students create multimedia presentations using materials from the websites listed under preparations.


Vital Communication: Native American Code Talkers Checklist and Worksheet



Directions: Circle each as you complete.

I used an introduction.

I added at least one fact.

I used a conclusion.


























Common Core Standards

DisciplineLanguage Arts
DomainL.2 Language
Grade(s)Grade 2 
ClusterText types and Purposes

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.2. Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

National Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.