SIOUX FALLS, SD, (KELO-AM) U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today spoke at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring Native American code talkers. This ceremony presented 33 tribes, including 8 from South Dakota, with Congressional Gold Medals. The South Dakota tribes receiving gold medals were: Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe. Code talkers played a significant role in World War I and II; their efforts helped win both wars and save countless lives. Senator Johnson has worked for over a decade to honor Native American code talkers with Congressional Gold Medals, and he is pleased that they are finally being recognized for their bravery and valor.
Below are Johnson’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Good morning and welcome. It is an honor to be here today as we celebrate the military service of the Native American code talkers. I have worked for over a decade to honor the code talkers with the Congressional Gold Medal. It’s gratifying that this day is finally here.The real work, though, began 95 years ago when Native Americans from South Dakota and from across Indian Country left their homes and joined the military effort in World War I. This came at a time when many Native Americans were not yet American citizens but fought valiantly for our shared homeland. Native code talkers were also used extensively in the European and Pacific theaters during World War II. The use of native languages was a fundamental tactic that saved an untold number of lives and helped win both wars.Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with several of the code talkers and learn their personal stories. I always left those meetings inspired by their dedication to our Nation. These men did not seek the limelight, and in fact, their tremendous impact to our military was kept from the public for half a century. There is no question their contributions were unparalleled and have had a lasting impact on history. Most of the Native code talkers have passed away but we will never forget their heroic actions and are forever grateful for their military service. Today we celebrate their lives and contributions to our country. We celebrate with their families and friends who are with us today. Congratulations to all of you.