Claremore Daily Progress

State/Nation

November 20, 2013

Code Talkers receive Congressional Gold Medal

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Native Americans, and Cherokees in particular, have a longstanding history of serving the military at a higher rate than the general U.S. population. The U.S. military employed Cherokees and other tribal members, such as the Navajo and Choctaw, as Code Talkers to pass messages in their native languages to confuse and bypass enemy forces.
“This is one way to recognize the importance of Native Americans’ service in the defense of the United States,” said Cherokee Nation Veterans Representative Raymond Vann. “Many who served did so at a time when the federal government’s policies toward Indian Nations were unfriendly. Yet, so many Indian people served to fight for freedom, and the Code Talkers served in such an extraordinary way using their language to help turn the tide.”
Edmond Harjo of Seminole Nation in Oklahoma was in attendance and recognized with a congressional silver medal. During the ceremony, Inhofe thanked Harjo for his attendance and for his service to our country, and said: “It was men like Mr. Harjo who made a real difference in the fight for freedom during World War I and II.” 
There is no firm number on how many Cherokees were Code Talkers, but the tribe is actively researching that figure.
Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, a Navy Vietnam veteran, is accepting the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of the tribe.
Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilors, cabinet members and Cherokee Nation employees who worked with the U.S. Mint to help design the Cherokee Code Talkers coin will also attend.
Having known a code talker himself, Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin noted the importance of telling the story of a very special generation. 
“Code talkers were courageous individuals who chose to be a part of history and take on a unique role in war,” said Mullin.  “Oklahoma was home to many code talkers including Mr. Wayne Russell, who was a dear family friend and helped me learn Cherokee at a young age.  I consider it a privilege to be from a state of such heritage and heroism.”

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