Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 21)

Congressional Gold Medals to be part of traveling exhibit

Photo by Richie RichardsRichard Brown holds the Congressional Silver Medal earned by his father, code talker Garfield T. Brown, along with a photo of his father in his war-time uniform.

Photo by Richie RichardsRichard Brown holds the Congressional Silver Medal earned by his father, code talker Garfield T. Brown, along with a photo of his father in his war-time uniform.

CRAZY HORSE –– On Oct. 15, 2008, “The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008” was enacted and required the issuance of medals to honor Native American code talkers from World War I and World War II. 

       And on Nov. 20, 2013, over 200 Native American code talkers were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington DC; this is the highest honoring given for national appreciation. These medals were given to tribal representatives of code talkers posthumously. 

Shown are the Congressional Gold Medals created for Oceti Sakowin Code Talkers of South Dakota.

Shown are the Congressional Gold Medals created for Oceti Sakowin Code Talkers of South Dakota.

       Each of the 25 tribes was given the Congressional Gold Medal while the code talkers were given the Congressional Silver Medal. Flandreau and Lower Brule are yet to receive medals, but will be available in the future.
On Nov. 20, 2013, representatives of the code talker families and tribes were invited to a ceremony at Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capital Visitor Center in Washington, DC. Indian Affairs Committee Member, Senator Tim Johnson spoke at the ceremony.

       “I worked for over a decade to honor the code talkers with a Congressional Gold Medal. It is gratifying that this day is finally here… This came at a time when Native Americans were not yet citizens, but fought bravely for our shared homeland,” said Senator Johnson.

       The tribes were given gold medals and the code talkers were honored with Congressional Silver Medals for their service. Richard Brown received the medal in honor of his father Garfield T. Brown.

       Created in July 1873, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation is the sixth largest reservation in the country. The obverse side of the medal features two crouched men transmitting and codes in Lakota. The designer for this medal is Barbara Fox, a Master Designer for the U.S. Mint who is a recognized painter for watercolor and oil mediums. Fox has 14 designs minted as coins and medals.
The obverse design of the SRST medal features the seal of the SRST with the inscriptions of the 8 districts on the reservation. The engraver for this medal is Jim Licaretz, a medallic sculptor who began working with the U.S. Mint in the 1980’s. Licaretz’ work can be found in the British Museum, National Museum of Economy in Sweden and the Smithsonian Institution.

       Located in south-western South Dakota, the Oglala Sioux Tribe has nearly 47,000 enrolled members. The obverse design of the OST medal features an eagle and code talker. Designer and engraver of the obverse design of the OST medal is Michael Gaudioso. Before joining the U.S. Mint in 2009, Gaudioso worked as a painter/designer at the largest stained glass studio, Willet Houser.

       The Lakota words “Akicita Okolokiciye” translate to “warrior’s society.” The reverse design was done by Don Everhart and features a tribal flag and names of the nine districts on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Everhart joined the Franklin Mint in 1973. In 2006, he designed and sculpted the Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal (reverse). Jim Licaretz was the OST reverse design engraver.

       Established in 1889, the Rosebud Indian Reservation is located in south-central South Dakota and is home to the Sicangu Oyate or “Burnt Thigh Nation.” The obverse design of the RST medal was done by Justin Kunz. Kunz is a concept artist, illustrator and teacher. Kunz has worked in game development studios including Disney Interactive. He has also helped design environments in “World of Warcraft.”
The reverse design of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe medal was done by Don Everhart and the engraver was Jim Licaretz.

       “Good river soldiers fight the enemy” is transcribed in Lakota on the front of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s medal; which depicts both a soldier in World War I and soldiers from World War II exchanging codes. 

       The obverse side was designed by Donna Weaver has had a long career as a toy sculpture working for Hasbro and designing the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Victims medal which took place in Birmingham, Ala. The engraver of the obverse design is Michael Gaudioso. The reverse side of the CRST medal was designed by Don Everhart and engraved by Jim Licaretz. 

       The land base of the Yankton Sioux Reservation is in south-eastern South Dakota and has approximately 3,500 living within the borders of the “Land of the Friendly People.” Ronald Sanders designed the obverse side of the Yankton Sioux Tribe medal. Sanders graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design who has work in several collections including the Oneida Nation Museum. Don Everhart is credited with engraving the obverse design. 

       Charles L. Vickers designed and engraved the reverse design of the YST medal which features a buffalo skull and two feathers hanging from the horns. Vickers had done a tour of duty with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and his work includes the Four Pillars in the Ronald Reagan Library. 

       More and more, tribes prefer being called by their traditional names. The Hunkpati Dakota Oyate, or Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, medal depicts a WWII code talker with map and phone in hands. Obverse designer Thomas Cleveland client list includes Coca-Cola, General Motors, Nickelodeon, McDonald’s, and founded the Artist Within Studio School in 2004.

       The obverse engraver for the CCST medal is Phebe Hemphill. Hemphill worked as a sculptor for the Franklin Mint before joining the U.S. Mint. In 2012, Hemphill sculpted the reverse Native American $1 coin. 

       Renata Gordon engraved the reverse design of the CCST medal. Gordon received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from the University of Arts in Philadelphia. She joined the U.S. Mint in 2011. Thomas Cleveland was designed the reverse side. 

       The Lake Traverse Reservation, home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, is located in northeast South Dakota and their capital is Agency Village. The SWST medal has code talker being shielded by an eagle overhead. Frank Morris is the obverse designer for this tribe’s medal. Phebe Hemphill is the obverse design engraver.

       Frank Morris is an award-winning artist whose work has been featured in Newsweek and New York Magazine and books of best-selling artists including Anne Rice. Morris is credited for designing three medals in the Code Talkers Recognition Congressional Medals Program. These would include Santee, Osage Nation and Sisseton Wahpeton. 

       The reverse side of the Sisseton Wahpeton medal was designed by Don Everhart and engraved by Jim Licaretz. 

       The Santee Sioux Reservation is located on the southern side of the Missouri River in north-eastern Nebraska. The capital of this reservation is Niobrara and was established in 1863. The Santee Sioux medal has a code talker crouched with phone in hand and near barbwire; which is a symbol of the threat and danger soldiers worked under.

       The obverse side of the Santee medal was designed by Frank Morris and the engraver was Phebe Hemphill. The reverse design has the Santee Sioux Nation seal with an eagle holding an arrow and a ceremonial pipe below. Charles L. Vickers was both designer and engraver of the reverse design. 

       For more information regarding the Congressional Gold Medals given to the tribes and code talkers or to place an order, please visit:

       The Oceti Sakowin Code Talker Medallion exhibit is a traveling exhibit to display and honor the Native American Code Talkers. The exhibit will visit 4 sites in South Dakota and feature the Congressional Gold Medals from each tribe.

       The exhibit will visit Pierre Oct. 14, Watertown Oct. 21, and Sioux Falls on Oct. 28, and will conclude at the Crazy Horse Memorial on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. Public viewing will be from 10-3 daily with a special honoring at 11:11 a.m. at each site.

       If you have any questions, or have information to share, please contact Master Sergeant James Bad Wound at

(Contact Richie Richards at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.