Congressman Tom Cole with members of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma
WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Cole (Oklahom – 4th District) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (Minnesota – 4th District), co-chairs of the Native American Congressional Caucus, participated in a ceremony today that honored Native American code talkers with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. Out of the 33 tribes recognized, 10 tribes are from Oklahoma and three (Choctaw, Comanche and Kiowa) are from the Fourth District of Oklahoma.
“Today we honor the great bravery and skill of Native American military heroes,” said Congressman Cole, who is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. “Over the course of American history, Native Americans have demonstrated outstanding valor on the battlefield, and today we remember the vital role they played as code talkers during World War I and World War II. These individuals embraced their cultural heritage and used it to prevent highly-sensitive wartime messages from being intercepted by the enemy. Because of their service and unique contributions, countless lives were saved and victory was claimed more quickly by the Allies. This ceremony inspires great pride in the Native American hearts, including my own. But for all Americans, it should serve as a reminder of true bravery and sacrifice.”
“These American heroes are shining examples of the long and proud history of Native Americans’ military service to our country,” said Congresswoman McCollum. “Many Americans are familiar with the story of the Navajo code talkers, but today we recognize the contributions of veterans from 33 tribal nations, including Lakota and Ojibwe speakers. Using the languages of their people, these brave soldiers created unbreakable codes that aided in the Allied victory and saved the lives of many of their brothers-in-arms. Upon returning home, the service of the code talkers was kept secret to protect those programs. As a result, many loyal veterans faced the hardship of never being able to tell their families and communities the details of their valiant service. Today, we offer this long-overdue honor in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to our Nation.”