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Zonnie  Gorman

Zonnie Gorman

Historian, Consultant & Lecturer


Recognized historian of the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, Zonnie Gorman is an expert in her field and a dedicated teacher. She has served as a consultant to numerous documentaries, museum exhibitions and authors. Gorman is currently the Project Coordinator for the Circle of Light Navajo Educational Project (CLNEP), a nonprofit organization founded in May 2001 and located in Gallup, New Mexico. CLNEP offers a variety of Navajo role models to youth and fosters cultural pride and self worth, while educating them along with non-Navajos about the rich history, culture, language and contributions of the Navajo people. Read More >

In December 2014, Gorman received her Master of Arts in History from the University of New Mexico. She is the daughter of the late Dr. Carl Gorman; artist, teacher and one of the original “first twenty-nine” Navajo Code Talkers who devised the initial Navajo code. She is also the youngest sister to the legendary and renowned Navajo artist, the late R.C. Gorman. In 1989 Gorman embarked on a journey to discover that part of her father that had been a Code Talker. With a love of history her journey has led her through fifteen years of in-depth research and interviews. Gorman shares a touching story of young teenage boys seeking adventure and escape. The Code Talker story is the ultimate paradox – a shining achievement for Native America.

Gorman has lectured extensively throughout the United States, including several universities and colleges as well as N.A.S.A. Headquarters in Washington, DC, and the Museum of the American Indian in New York. She has appeared in and been consultant to several documentaries including the History Channel documentary, In Search of History- Navajo Code Talkers, the MGM double DVD release of Windtalkers (historical documentary section); and the PBS documentary, True Whispers.

Gorman is President of the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial Governor’s Board. The Ceremonial is an annual event held in New Mexico featuring Native music, dance, arts, and culture. She is President of Extol Charitable Foundation, an organization dedicated to prevention education on fetal alcohol syndrome. She is also Vice Chair of the Gallup Economic Development and Tourism Commission, as well as a board member of Think First Navajo, a chapter of the national organization Think First, a head and spinal injury prevention program. She is also an advisory board member for College Horizons, a pre-college workshop for Native American students preparing for undergraduate and graduate school.

Zonnie earned her M.A. in History from The University of New Mexico and her thesis, The Navajo Code Talkers of World War II: The First Twenty-Nine, included interviews with several of the First Twenty-nine Navajo Code Talkers. She is now working on her Ph.D. Zonnie is a past board member with the following organizations: Navajo Studies Conference and Eve’s Fund for Native American Health Initiatives. In addition, Zonnie is an alum of Up With People, Leadership McKinley, and Leadership New Mexico.

Lastly, Zonnie is a current member of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), American Historical Association (AHA), the Organization of American Historians (OAH), the Western History Association (WHA), the Society for Military History (SMH), and the Navajo Studies Conference Inc. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Navajo Code Talkers Clip | HISTORY

A Navajo Code Talker's Journey

Speech Topics

Growing Up With Heroes: A Daughter’s Journey with the Navajo Code Talkers

Zonnie’s presentation is a touching and riveting story about the original famous Navajo Code Talkers. This very first group – the First Twenty-nine – was the pilot project in 1942 who created the first Navajo code. As a historian and the daughter of the oldest member, Carl Gorman, Zonnie expertly weaves her personal connection and intimate knowledge with thirty years of archival research and collected first account stories. You will experience the Navajo reservation of the 1940s, the federal boarding schools, and learn about the devastating U.S. Government policy of Assimilation designed to destroy Indian lifeways and languages. Most importantly, you will discover how the First Twenty-nine created the initial Navajo code and how their life experiences, cultural upbringing, and sheer ingenuity helped secure America’s freedom in the Pacific.