The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee met on April 26th, 2012, at the U.S. Mint’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to review and discuss the candidate designs for the Code Talker Congressional Gold Medals honoring the Comanche, Kiowa, Santee Sioux, and Tlingit tribes. In attendance from the CCAC were Chairman Gary Marks, Michael Bugeja, Robert Hoge, Erik Jansen, Michael Moran, Michael Olson, Mike Ross, Donald Scarinci, Jeanne Stevens-Sollman and Heidi Wastweet. Representing the Mint were Don Everhart, Andy Fishburn, Greg Weinman, and Ron Harrigal.
The Code Talker Congressional Gold Medals were called for by Congress to recognize the dedication and valor of Native American code talkers during their service in World Wars I and II. As their languages have no linguistic similarities with those spoken in Europe, nor are they based on a mathematical progression, the German troops were unable to understand what was being transmitted by these soldiers, thus greatly aiding in the successful efforts to win the wars. In total, 22 different tribes have been identified as being Code Talkers, and Congress approved a bill to honor each tribe individually rather than have a single Gold Medal for all.
For each of the four tribes whose designs were reviewed, there were either two or three design candidates for the obverse and reverse, a far different situation than what the committee usually faces. There were some concerns over the accurate depiction of the symbols for each tribe, including the rendering of the Comanche Nation Code Talker statue, as well as the relative sizes of the devices on the Comanche Nation reverse designs. The Santee Sioux reverse designs were liked, but for different reasons: the first design was very true to the source, whereas the other two were more stylized. The Kiowa obverse design 1 looked like the soldier was on a patch of ice, and the large spiral integrated into the Tlingit Tribe reverse design 2 was disliked at first, but opinions warmed after it was understood that it represented the radio waves of the coded communications.
The committee recommendations were as follows:
Comanche: Obverse 2 (18 points), Reverse 2 (21 points)
Kiowa: Obverse 2 (22 points), Reverse 2 (22 points)
Santee Dakota: Obverse 1 (25 points), Reverse 2 (17 points)
Tlingit: Obverse 1 (25 points), Reverse 2 (26 points)
The committee’s recommendations matched those from the tribal recommendations, except for the Santee Dakota reverse, selecting reverse 2 over 1.