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Sisseton, Crow Creek Code Talkers Get Medals
By Debbie Bradley, Numismatic News
October 01, 2012

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Congressional gold medals will be presented to code talkers of World War I and World War II who were members of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe.

The term is code talker. The person is a Native American who served in the Armed Forces during World War I or World War II transmitting coded messages for tactical military operations using their native tribal language.

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The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts each met Sept. 20 to review designs for the medals prepared by U.S. Mint engravers.

Obverse design No. 1 was the overwhelming favorite among CCAC members for the medal honoring the Sisseton Sioux, said CCAC Chairman Gary Marks. It depicts an eagle soaring over a code talker.

“There was discussion as to whether the eagle looked like it was attacking, but it was decided that the eagle was looking away as if looking for adversaries as if protecting the soldier,” Marks said.

The CFA chose not to endorse either of two obverse designs presented for the Sisseton Sioux medal, said CFA Secretary Tom Luebke. Both designs featured an eagle and a code talker.

CFA members were concerned that the eagle on obverse design No. 1 looked possibly like it was attacking the code talker and appeared trapped within the frame of the coin, Luebke said. As for design No. 2, the CFA thought it was poorly designed, Luebke said.

The CFA recommended reverse design No. 2 for the Sisseton Sioux medal but asked that inscriptions “World War II” and “Act of Congress 2008” be aligned left and right on the medal.

Luebke said the CFA also mentioned a concern that the obverse and reverse designs for the Sisseton Sioux medal had distinctive stylistic differences that would make the medal look that it was not the work of one artist and hoped that could be addressed.

The CCAC also recommended reverse No. 2, giving it the maximum number of points – 21.

Following a presentation by a member of the Crow Creek Tribe, the CCAC decided to forego awarding point values to each design, Marks said, and instead voted 4 to 3 to recommend the tribe’s preferences, Obverse no. 1 and Reverse No. 1.

The CFA, noting the similarity between obverse designs No. 1 and No. 2, chose to endorse No. 2 because it felt the horizon was a stronger design than the mound of rocks in design No. 1, Luebke said.

It chose reverse design No. 1, Luebke said, but asked that the text be flipped so the words “World War I” and “World War II” are moved to the top of the medal.

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