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CCAC Greenlights Congressional Gold Medal Designs Honoring Code Talkers

The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee CCAC recently approved the designs for the congressional gold medal honoring the Lake Superior Band of the Fond du Lac Chippewa Code Talkers.

The medal is part of Code Talkers Recognition Congressional Medals Program, which recognizes the dedication and valor of Native American code talkers to the U.S. Armed Services during World War I and II. To date, more than 25 tribes have received medals.

The term “code talkers” is used to describe Native Americans who used their tribal languages to send and receive secret communications during wartime. Unlike other secret military codes, their transmissions remained secure from enemy interception and played a significant role in the United State’s success against the Japanese in the pacific.

As described by Major Howard Conner, the Fifth Marine Division’s Signal Officer, “The entire operation was directed by Navajo code. . . . During the two days that followed the initial landings I had six Navajo radio nets working around the clock. . . . They sent and received over 800 messages without an error. Were it not for the Navajo Code Talkers, the Marines never would have taken Iwo Jima.”’

To recognize the contributions of the code talkers, Congress passed the Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008. The law requires the Secretary of the Treasury to strike unique gold medals for each Native American tribe that had a member who served as a code talker. As detailed by the U.S. Mint, silver duplicate medals are presented to the specific code talkers, their next of kin, or other personal representatives. The public can also purchase bronze replicas.

As with all U.S. coins and medals, the CCAC is tasked with providing design recommendations to the Secretary of the Treasury. The obverse of the latest medal shows a Code Talker transcribing information being received, while the reverse features a variation of the Fond du Lac Tribe seal. The approved designs were endorsed by the Commission of Fine Arts and represented the preferences of the tribe.

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