Meskwaki Tribe criticized for handling of Code Talker ceremony

Members of the Meskwaki Tribe of Iowa are criticizing their leaders for the way they were treated at the Code Talkers ceremony at the U.S. Capitol last month.

The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008 honored hundreds of Code Talkers who used their languages to develop unbreakable codes for the military. The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to 33 tribes while the Congressional Silver Medal was awarded to 216 Code Talkers.

The Meskwaki Tribe received its Gold Medal at the ceremony. The Silver Medals for the eight Meskwaki Code Talkers, however, were shipped to Iowa instead of being presented to their living relatives in D.C.

“Why did we even come? Why did we make the trip if the tribe was going to keep the medals for themselves?” Daniel Wabaunasee, whose late father, Judie Wayne Wabaunasee, was awarded a Silver Medal, told The Des Moines Gazette. “Why did they waste all that money to have us come over?”

The situation with the Meskwakis appears to be unusual. Most of the other Silver Medals were handed out at the National Museum of the American Indian in the afternoon following the ceremony.

The Meskwakis plan to present the Silver Medals at their annual New Year's Eve powwow.

“I’ll feel good when we get the medals,” Melissa Youngbear, whose late father, Mike Wayne Wabaunasee, was a Code Talker.

Judie Wayne and Mike Wayne and were brothers who served in North Africa. Judie Wabaunasee was captured by the Germans and was held as a prisoner of war.

Get the Story:
Meskwaki code talkers’ families to get medals, but hard feelings remain (The Des Moines Gazette 12/4)
Families of Meskwaki Congressional Medal Recipients Upset (KCRG 12/3)

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Congress honors 33 tribes for sending Code Talkers into battle (11/21)
Rep. Boehner apologizes for closed-caption gaffe at ceremony (11/21)
Code Talkers receive long overdue honors for service in military (11/20)
Code Talkers to receive Congressional Gold Medal at US Capitol (11/18)