Code Talkers medal ceremony to draw hundreds

Gold and silver medals to be presented at event
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Published : 11/11/13
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Congressional gold medals for 25 of 33 Native American Indian tribes with members who served as military code talkers during World Wars I and II will be presented Nov. 20 in ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center’s Emancipation Hall in Washington, D.C.

Designs for the 25 gold medals to be presented Nov. 20 will not be released publicly until the presentation ceremony.

Gold medals for the remaining seven tribes to be recognized will be presented in ceremonies at a later date, after the designs have been given final approval by the secretary of the Treasury. Obverse and reverse designs for the medals for those seven tribes have been considered and recommended by the Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008, Public Law 110-420, directs that medals be struck to honor the valor and dedication of Native American code talkers during World War I and World War II. As members of the American Armed Forces, these code talkers thwarted the enemy by transmitting secret coded messages using their native tribal languages.

The first reported use of Native American code talkers was on Oct. 17, 1918.

Excluded from Public Law 110-420 are the Navajo, which received separate congressional gold medal recognition in 2000 with the Navajo Code Talkers Congressional Gold Medal Act, Public Law 106-554.

In addition to authorizing the gold medals to be presented to the tribes, Public Law 110-420 provides for the striking and issuance of silver duplicate medals to individual Native American code talkers “if the Native American served in the Armed Forces as a code talker in any foreign conflict in which the United States was involved during the 20th century.”

In the event of the death of an eligible code talker, the silver medal may be presented to the next of kin or representative, according to Public Law 110-420.

The silver medals are to be presented to the recipients or their next of kin in private ceremonies the afternoon of Nov. 20 beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, according to Leonda Levchuk, NMAI public affairs officer.

Specifications for the silver medals were not provided to Coin World by press time Nov. 8. Information was also not available for how many of the silver medals were going to be presented per designated tribe.

Public presentation

The public ceremony Nov. 20 in Emancipation Hall for the gold medal presentations is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Hundreds of members of representative medal recipient tribes are already confirmed to attend, with some tribes sending more than 150 representatives to the ceremonies, according to the U.S. Mint.

The 20,000-square-foot Emancipation Hall is the main hall of the Capitol Visitor. It was legislatively renamed from Great Hall in 2008.

Emancipation Hall displays the original plaster cast of the Statue of Freedom, the bronze statue that stands atop the Capitol dome.

The 25 tribes to be recognized Nov. 20 are:

➤ Cherokee Nation.

➤ Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

➤ Choctaw Nation.

➤ Comanche Nation.

➤ Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.

➤ Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes.

➤ Ho-Chunk Nation.

➤ Hopi Tribe.

➤ Kiowa Tribe.

➤ Meskwaki Nation.

➤ Muscogee Creek Nation.

➤ Oglala Sioux Tribe.

➤ Oneida Nation.

➤ Osage Nation.

➤ Pawnee Nation.

➤ Ponca Tribe.

➤ Pueblo of Acoma Tribe.

➤ Santee Sioux Nation.

➤ Seminole Nation.

➤ Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Sioux) Tribe.

➤ Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

➤ Tlingit Tribe.

➤ Tonto Apache Tribe.

➤ White Mountain Apache Tribe.

➤ Yankton Sioux Tribe.

Future gold medals will recognize the following eight tribes:

➤ Menominee Nation.

➤ Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe.

➤ Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

➤ Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

➤ Crow Nation.

➤ Mohawk Tribe.

➤ Laguna Pueblo Tribe.

➤ Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.

According to Public Law 110-420, the Smithsonian Institution “shall accept and maintain such gold medals, and such silver duplicates of those medals, as recognized tribes elect to send to the Smithsonian Institution.”

Public Law 110-420 also grants the Treasury secretary the discretion to offer bronze duplicates of the medals for sale to the general public. The U.S. Mint has often offered bronze duplicates of other congressional gold medals in 3-inch and 1.5-inch sizes.

Coin World will publish details about the availability of the bronze medals from the Mint as they become available. ■

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