Design candidates for the Congressional Gold Medal honoring the World War II service of the Lake Superior Band of the Fond du Lac Chippewa Native American Code Talkers have been unveiled by the United States Mint.
The artistic representations were also reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC).
Authorized as part of the Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-420), the congressional gold medals celebrate Native Americans who used their tribal languages for top secret communications during wartime.
Other tribes have been presented gold medals as part of the Act, including twenty-five tribes in a ceremony held on Nov. 20, 2013 in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe was one of several listed to receive the award at a later date.
Jeff Savage, director of the Fond du Lac Cultural Center and Museum, was present at the CCAC meeting. Savage said the medal is in honor of Lex Porter, who never mentioned he was a code talker even to his family, keeping it within his heart.
The below designs, which include five options for the obverse (heads side) and three for the reverse (tails side), are part of the U.S. Mint’s process of creating the Congressional Gold Medal.
Obverse Fond du Lac Chippewa Code Talkers Congressional Gold Medal Design Candidates
All five obverse design candidates portray a World War II code talker either transcribing or receiving important military information. The first three designs show foliage in the background indicative of the tribe’s service in the South Pacific. A beading pattern is also included in the imagery along with the inscriptions of "LAKE SUPERIOR BAND OF FOND DU LAC CHIPPEWA" and "CODE TALKERS."
During their meeting of Sept. 18, the United States Commission of Fine Arts recommended obverse design 1. Their preference was attributed to the fact that a firearm was not highlighted as it was in the other designs but instead showed the Code Talker in the process of transcribing information. In a Sept. 23 meeting of the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee, members indicated they also preferred this design.
Reverse Fond du Lac Chippewa Code Talkers Congressional Gold Medal Design Candidates
Of the three reverse candidates depicting a variation of the tribe seal, the CFA opted for design 1 stating it was "the simplest and clearest composition of the alternatives." A few days later, the CCAC followed suit by recommending the same design.
A final selection for use on the Congressional Gold Medal will be made by the Secretary of the Treasury. The medal will then be presented to the tribe at a later date with silver replicas awarded to surviving code talkers, their next of kin, or other personal representatives. Bronze medal replicas will also be made available to the public for direct purchase from the United States Mint.