November 20, 2013
Harkin Attends Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony for WWII Meskwaki Tribe Code Talkers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today attended a Congressional ceremony in the U.S. Capitol honoring 25 Native American tribes with the Congressional Gold Medal. Among the tribes being honored was the Meskwaki tribe of Iowa. The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008 directed that medals be struck to honor the valor and dedication of Native American code talkers during World War I and World War II. Harkin was an original cosponsor of the Senate’s companion bill to legislation that later became law authorizing these medals.
“Veterans of Iowa’s Meskwaki tribe played a historic role in World War II, using their native language as the basis for creating unbreakable codes for communicating messages in combat. As soldiers in the heat of battle, they exemplified the traditional Meskwaki values of bravery, honor and justice,” said Harkin. “It was an honor to see these veterans recognized for their contributions.”
“Today is a great day for the Meskwaki Nation. We are proud of the recognition of our Code Talkers and grateful to Senator Harkin and other Members of our delegation who worked to make this happen,” said Judith Bender, Chairwoman of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa. “And we are especially mindful of the Tribal leaders, spouses, children and friends who fought to preserve the Code Talkers’ legacy and make this day a reality. As we continue our efforts to preserve our Meskwaki language, today reminds us of its importance to generations past and those yet to come.”
Harkin has a long history of working to recognize these tribes. In 2005, he presented military medals to the families of six deceased Meskwaki World War II code talkers after his office worked to secure the medals.
PHOTO CAPTION: Following the ceremony, Harkin met with Ram Dhanwada and Donald Wanatee, members of the Tribe who were in Washington, D.C. to accept the Congressional Gold Medal. Click here for photo.