Navajo Code Talker John Kinsel Sr. celebrates major birthday milestone
When we get past 100, you better spell our name right.
We may be overly sensitive to people misspelling last names, for obvious reasons, so we sympathize with those who are complaining that Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez misspelled Navajo Code Talker John Kinsel Sr.’s name in a recent tweet.
Kinsel served during World War II in the 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division from Oct. 1942 to Jan. 1946, taking part in the Battles of Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima. He was awarded the Purple Heart in 1989 for his service at Iwo Jima. (See him here in 2003 recalling his life and record.)
Nez’ mishap happened yesterday when the Navajo Nation leader was attempting to honor Kinsel’s birthday, along with his military service and legacy. Kinsel is widely reported to have been born in 1921, which puts him at 101, but some sources list him as turning 105 this year.
“Happy Birthday to Navajo Code Talker John Kinsey, Sr.!” Nez wrote yesterday, incorrectly.
“He along with many Navajo Code Talkers used our sacred Diné language to help win World War II and saved many lives,” Nez continued, correctly. “On this special day, we wish him a joyful birthday filled with many blessings and good health.”
As of Sunday morning, the error has been retweeted over 300 times and has been liked nearly 1,500 times.
Loren Anthony, the increasingly popular Navajo actor currently starring in Dexter: New Blood, quickly came to the defense of Kinsel.
“Disrespectful our leaders can’t even get his name right!” exclaimed Anthony, also on Twitter.
Some thought Anthony was being overly sensitive:
But more agreed with Anthony, saying that Nez should have taken the time by now to fix the error.
Anthony has a long and friendly relationship with Kinsel. They’ve gotten to know each other through their mutual connection to the Chizh For Cheii (Navajo for “firewood for grandpa”) organization, which delivers free firewood every year to high-risk Navajo Nation elders and tribal citizens in need.
“Serving our Navajo Code Talker John Kinsel over the years has been nothing but an extreme honor,” Anthony recently shared. “We are very fortunate to have this warrior of a gentleman in our lives.”
Anthony talked with Kinsel yesterday, on his big day, sharing, “he’s in good spirits and happy about his birthday.”
This is not the first instance of a current leader disrespecting a code talker.
Former President Donald Trump infamously interacted with a few code talkers and Native veterans during his first year in office, greeting them at an Oval Office event.
"You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump told them at the time, standing under a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson, who has the nickname “Indian killer.”
“Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago,” Trump continued, referring to his nickname for current Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts. “They call her Pocahontas."
As that instance illustrated, there are more ways to be disrespectful to Native American military heroes than by simply misspelling their names. Still, a correction appears to be in order, President Nez.
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