Tribes to receive Congressional Gold Medals in honor of Code Talkers
On Nov. 20, the Congress of the United States will present Congressional gold medals to 26 tribes in honor of their tribal members’ service in the U.S. military as Code Talkers in World War I and World War II. A private awards ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. The tribe will receive the Congressional Gold Medal, and each one will be of a unique design befitting that tribe. The Code Talkers or a surviving family member will receive duplicate solid Silver medals. Bronze duplicate medals will be sold to be public from the United States Mint beginning soon afterward.
During World War I and World War II, hundreds of American Indians from dozens of tribes joined the U.S. armed forces. Historically, they are among the first to volunteer and are recognized as having the highest record of service on average compared to other ethnic groups.
One small group of Choctaw men helped turn the tide during World War I and was so successful their method of communications was repeated in World War II. They were the original Code Talkers who used words from their traditional tribal language as weapons. America’s enemies were never able to decipher or “break” the coded message they sent.
“The Code Talker Recognition Act paved the way for Congressional medals to honor American Indian Code Talkers,” said Choctaw Nation Chief Gregory E. Pyle. “It has been a delayed and challenging path since the beginning of the crusade for acknowledgement. Many people worked tirelessly in an effort to educate others about the Code Talkers. They walked the halls of Congress to raise awareness and are now going to see the realization of their goal.”
The first recorded use of Code Talkers was on Oct. 17, 1918. They exchanged messages with Choctaw phrases such as “corn grain three” and “little gun shoot fast” to describe “third battalion” and “machine gun.” As the group grew and developed a wider “vocabulary,” the success of the Allied missions continued and ended World War I. Many lives were saved.
When the United States entered World War I, members of Indian tribes who enlisted in the Armed Forces were not considered U.S. citizens. They still chose to protect their home, maintaining their identity as American Indians as they enlisted and fought on behalf of the United States.
The original Code Talkers were sworn to secrecy and many of them kept the secret of their participation until they died.
In 2001, Congress and President George W. Bush honored Navajo Code Talkers for their contributions as radio operators during World War II.
President Bush signed the Code Talkers Recognition Act on Oct. 15, 2008, which included Code Talkers from 33 other tribes and nations who were instrumental in World War I and II victories.
The Code Talkers left a lasting legacy for their people and their country. They are beginning to receive the recognition and honor they greatly deserved during their lifetimes.
Medals to be awarded on November 20, 2013
Choctaw Nation (Oklahoma)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)
Cherokee Nation (Oklahoma)
Comanche Nation (Oklahoma)
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)
Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes (Montana)
Ho-Chunk Nation (Wisconsin)
Hopi Tribe (Arizona)
Kiowa Tribe (Oklahoma)
Meskwaki Nation (Iowa)
Muscogee Creek Nation (Oklahoma)
Oglala Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)
Oneida Nation (Wisconsin)
Osage Nation (Oklahoma)
Pawnee Nation (Oklahoma)
Ponca Tribe (Oklahoma)
Pueblo of Acoma Tribe (New Mexico)
Santee Sioux Nation (Nebraska)
Seminole Nation (Oklahoma)
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Sioux) Tribe (South Dakota)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)
Tlingit Tribe (Alaska)
Tonto Apache Tribe (Arizona)
White Mountain Apache Tribe (Arizona)
Yankton Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)
Menominee Nation (design unveiled at the ceremony)
Medals to be awarded at a later date
Brule Sioux Tribe
Cheyenne and Arapho Tribes
Laguna Pueblo Tribe