Choctaw Code Talkers of WWI Novel

UPDATE: WE DID IT! See my Facebook page and blog for the results of this epic research trip:

“Help bring the story of the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I to life!”

I have a rare opportunity to visit World War I battlefield sites in France, to research at these sites for my novel in progress about the Choctaw Code Talkers. This novel tells the true story of these brave men, a story not many people have heard. As a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, I feel privileged to bring this part of our shared history to life for you.

This research opportunity has come about so quickly that I won't be able to fully fund the trip on my own. I want to invite you to support this research trip.

The trip will take place in April when I will be traveling with a fellow Choctaw preservationist to conduct the research. 

If you would like to contribute to this project, please make a donation by March 16, 2018.

Yakoke (thank you)!

More details:

So far, I've researched within the Choctaw Nation Historic Preservation and Genealogy departments, the Choctaw Code Talkers Association, Dr. William Meadows (who is writing a non-fiction about Indian code talkers of World War I) of Missouri State University, the Sequoyah Research Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, and have conducted research at the National Archives in D.C. and College Park, Maryland. France is the last place I have yet to research in.

A letter written home by one of the Choctaw Code Talkers. Researched and photographed courtesy of the Chahta Foundation.

General John J. Pershing's grave at the Arlington Cemetery. Washington, D.C. 

France research sites

1. Reims

2. St. Mihiel (one of Choctaw / Chickasaw Code Talker
Sergeant Otis Leader’s battle sites with the 1st Division.)

3. Lorraine or Meurthe-et-Moselle (The first Americans killed in the war were in Otis Leader's battalion. Those Americans are buried there.)

4. Saint-Étienne-à-Arnes (The first major battle for the rest of the 18 code talkers in the 36th division.)

5. Attigny (The second area of combat. This is near where they did their actual code talking in the taking of Forest Ferme on the Aisne river.)

6. Back to Reims

Then we travel back to Paris to hunt down history, in particular at the Les Invalides Museum. It holds a French artist’s portrait of Sergeant Otis Leader (Choctaw / Chickasaw Code Talker). The French government commissioned that artist to paint the “ideal American soldier” and he chose an American Indian.

Author bio

Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer is an award-winning inspirational author, speaker and Choctaw storyteller of traditional and fictional tales based on the lives of her people. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has honored her as a literary artist through their Artist Leadership Program for her work in preserving Trail of Tears stories. In 2015, First Peoples Fund awarded her an Artist in Business Leadership Fellowship. She writes from her hometown in Texas, partnering with her mother, Lynda Kay Sawyer, in continued research for future novels. Learn more about their work to preserve Choctaw history at and
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Sarah Elisabeth 
Canton, TX
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