U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today joined his colleagues in presenting 33 Native American Tribes with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their military service during World War I and World War II as code talkers. The ceremony took place in the Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center where Inhofe delivered remarks along with Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as other members of Congress.
"Native Americans who served as code talkers during World War I and II are true American heroes whose ingenuity helped propel the Allied forces to victory and saved countless lives in the process," said Inhofe. "These awards recognize the dedicated service performed by those that have been honored here today as well as the men and women who were lost on the battlefields and those who have since passed. After nearly a decade of working to secure the gold medal award, in 2008, Oklahoma Congressman Dan Boren and I were finally able to see the Code Talkers Recognition Act enacted, and I am proud this long awaited ceremony has finally occurred."
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."
The following tribes from Oklahoma received congressional goal medals: Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Comanche Nation, Pawnee Nation, Osage Tribe, Kiowa Tribe, Seminole Nation, Muskogee Creek Nation, Ponca Tribe, and Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.
Since 2002, Inhofe has introduced legislation and worked to honor Native American Code Talkers. In Feb. 2008, Inhofe worked closely with former Congressman Dan Boren to pass H.R. 4544, the companion legislation to Inhofe's Code Talkers Recognition Act (S.2681), through Congress. Later that year, the President signed it into law (Public Law 110-420).