U.S. Congress Presents Gold Medal to Native American Code Talkers - Fort Peck Tribes
WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate honored Native American code talkers in a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony held in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. The medal – Congress’s highest expression of appreciation – was awarded in recognition of the valor and dedication of these code talkers as members of our Armed Forces during World War I and World War II.
The term "Code Talkers" refers to Native Americans who used their tribal languages as a means of secret communication during wartime.
- Code talkers used their native language to create secure, secret communications that enemies could not decode, ultimately saving servicemembers’ lives.
- The American military’s first reported use of Native American code talkers dates back to October 1918.
- Thirty-three tribes from around the country will be recognized and more than 200 silver medals will be presented to individual code talkers and the families of those deceased. Code talkers were sworn to secrecy and many of them kept the secret of their participation until they died.
There were 49 identified enrolled members of the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, who were WWII Code Talkers. Our Code Talkers were members of Company B, 163rd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Division, Poplar, MT.
At the conclusion of World War II, before demobilization of the Armed Forces, those that had participated in the Code Talker Program met and unanimously agreed that all who participated in the Code Talker Program in WWII would never knowingly or willfully ever speak of their experiences as Code Talkers. For that reason, the participation by the Assiniboine & Sioux, as Code Talkers in World War II remained unspoken and untold... until now.
CHANGES TO THE FORT PECK TRIBES’
CONSITUTION AND BY-LAWS
Fort Peck tribal voters also approved four of 10 constitutional amendments and one referendum item, while rejecting the rest of the amendments by a wide margin.
Approved was Amendment No. 5, which sets a code of ethics for the Tribal Council to follow. This received 1,072 votes.
Amendment allows the Tribal Courts to exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in domestic violence cases. Before this amendment, if an Indian victim of domestic violence were abused by a non-Indian perpetrator, the perpetrator could only be tried in Federal Court (in this case Great Falls). This amendment puts the Tribes Constitution in accordance with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. This measure was approved with 1,219 votes.
Amendment No. 8, approved with 1,115 votes, clarifies that the Tribal Council can use government powers to protect and preserve cultural and spiritual sites, medicinal plants and natural foods within the reservation.
Amendment No. 9 requires all claims councils, district councils and other organizations recognized as legitimate by the Tribal Government to submit an annual audited fiscal report. This was approved with 1,037 people voting for the amendment.
A referendum that would allow the people to elect judges to the Tribal Court was also approved by tribal voters with 1,011 affirmative votes. Before this, Tribal Court judges were picked by the Tribal Council.