The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee during its June 26 meeting
in Washington, D.C., largely followed tribal requests for designs on
four gold congressional medals to be issued next year for four Native
American tribes that supplied code talkers during combat operations in
World Wars I and II.
The code talkers, working in pairs, would communicate combat
maneuvers by radio in their native tongues, with the assumption that
enemy forces could not understand what the code talkers were saying.
In one departure from tribal requests, the CCAC did not endorse a
Pawnee Nation request that its code talker medal have an obverse
showing a kneeling code talker holding a radio receiver in one hand
and a helmet in the other hand.
The Commission of Fine Arts had endorsed that design, but the CCAC
instead backed a design showing a profile of a Native American soldier
with a radio antenna backpack. Eight arrows, one for each war the
tribe has fought as part of American forces, line the rim of the medal
design endorsed by the CCAC. That design, highly praised by committee
members, drew 24 of a possible 30 points.
A updated tribal seal, showing a snarling wolf, was endorsed with
26 points for the reverse of the Pawnee Nation medal. The CFA rejected
that design saying a less realistic design was needed to offset the
image it recommended for the obverse.
The Osage Nation’s request to use the same basic design for the
obverse as the Santee Sioux tribe had selected for its medal won
another less than enthusiastic endorsement from the CCAC. It drew 22
points, but several members said they wished the Mint had insisted on
fresh art for the Osage medal. (Congress has ordered medals presented
to multiple tribes; the Mint presented designs for medals for four
other tribes to the CCAC in April and the CFA in May for review.)
Only one design, also a tribal seal, was submitted for the Osage
reverse. It won a begrudging endorsement from the committee members
who urged Mint artists to touch up the tribal seal on which it is based.
The CCAC accepted a tribal recommendation for the design of the
Cheyenne River Sioux medal showing three code talkers, one from World
War I and two from World War II. The CFA also supported this design.
CCAC members gave the design 27 points.
The panel also backed a reverse design sought by the tribe with
their tribal seal showing four tepees. The panel recommended removing
the date “1868” from the reverse at the request of a tribal
representative. The design won 29 of 30 possible points.
For Oklahoma’s Choctaw Nation, the panel backed a design showing a
tribal radio operator recording a message in his native language. This
design, also backed by the CFA, had 28 of 30 points from the CCAC. A
reverse showing the Choctaw Tribal seal won the endorsement with 29 points.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has the final say on what
designs are selected for both the coins and medals.
The recommendations of the two review panels, as well as the Army
foundation and the tribal groups will be forwarded to him. ■