FHSU senior takes second at college essay contest

HAYS, KS -- Fort Hays State University senior Kelli L. Getz, Grainfield, was selected as one of 10 second-prize winners in MGM's national "Windtalkers" College Essay Contest.

Windtalkers is a film about the Navajo code talkers during World War II, scheduled to open in June 2002.

Getz was encouraged to enter the contest by Dr. Raymond Wilson, professor of history. Getz based her essay on research she did for "Topics in Ethnic Studies: Readings on Native Americans," a course in the ethnic studies program taught by Wilson.

Getz's research looked at an earlier use of Indian code talkers, the Choctaw code talkers of World War I.

"This is what, I think, helped Kelli be a contest winner. She looked at an earlier experience of using Indian code talkers," Wilson said.

The idea to use Navajo for secure communications came from Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary to the Navajos and one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently.

The Navajo language answered the military requirement for an undecipherable code because Navajo is an unwritten language of extreme complexity, making it unintelligible to anyone without extensive exposure and training.

"A major theme of the contest was to relate how communication played a role in history," said Wilson.

Getz received a limited edition movie poster signed by Nicolas Cage, the star of Windtalkers.

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