Mr. LUCAS of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and [Page: H3614]
pass the bill (H.R. 3250) to authorize the President to present a gold medal on behalf of Congress to the Sioux Indians who served as Sioux Code Talkers during World War II in recognition of their service to the Nation, as amended.
Mr. LUCAS of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H.R. 3250.
Mr. LUCAS of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 5 minutes.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3250, the Code Talkers Recognition Act. This legislation celebrates a relatively unknown aspect of American history, acts of bravery and heroism by Native American soldiers in the world wars of the last century, acts which saved the lives of many Allied servicemen.
Mr. Speaker, in any war, battles turn as much on information or on secrecy as on pure military might. If you know what your enemy is planning, you have a good chance to stop it. In both the First and Second World Wars, our enemies were skilled code breakers, and the ability to crack our communications costs many Allied lives.
In both conflicts, however, a relatively small band of Native Americans were able to use their unique tribal languages to baffle enemies. Speaking to each other either on field radios or field telephones, or occasionally even communicating with written messages, these men were able to quickly and accurately relay complex military messages and orders that could not be understood by enemies even if intercepted. Based neither on European languages or on mathematical formulas, these tribal languages
were so impenetrable to the German and Japanese military intelligence units that they are said never to have been cracked.
Mr. Speaker, the best known of these code talkers were the Navajo, honored with congressional medals in the last Congress. But a number of other tribes, including the Sioux, Comanche and Choctaw, also provided code talkers, and the legislation we consider today seeks to recognize them as well.
The bill we are taking up was introduced by the gentleman from South Dakota (Mr. Thune) and incorporates language in similar bills by the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Granger) and the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Watkins).
Mr. Speaker, as the sponsors of the language in this bill will tell us, the critical role played by the Native American code talkers in the battles of the First and Second World Wars were critical to the success of Allied efforts. It is long overdue that Congress recognize their heroic efforts with congressional gold medals. This bill will do that, recognizing the Comanche, Sioux and Choctaw code talkers, as well as asking the Secretary of Defense to identify any other soldiers from other tribes
who also served valiantly in the defense of this country and then awarding them medals.
Mr. Speaker, I ask strongly for the support of this legislation.
Mrs. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, today the House of Representatives honors many unsung American heroes whose contributions to America's freedom are without parallel in American history, the Sioux, Choctaw, Comanche and other Native American code talkers of World War II.
Without the valiant efforts of these patriotic members from many of our Native American communities, our Armed Forces would not have been able to deceive our enemies as effectively as they did. The rare beauty and intricacy of our Native American languages turned out to be our most secret of weapons, and to our code talkers, America owes a great debt of gratitude.
Our code talkers are an example of how the richness of our American heritage became a strength that no adversary could possibly match or overcome. America's freedom endures because our military commanders turned the linguistic heritage of our Native American tribes into an unprecedented asset of warfare.
Last year, in a Capitol Rotunda ceremony, Congress and President Bush honored code talkers from the Navajo Nation with a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow. John Brown, Jr., speaking on behalf of the Navajos, said at that ceremony, ``I am proud that at this point in American history our native language and the code we developed came to the aid of our country, saving American lives and helping the other U.S. Armed Forces to ultimately defeat the enemy.''
It was a fitting tribute that the House now extends to the Choctaw, Comanche, and to other Native American code talkers through passage of this important legislation.
During World War II, America and its allies fought a massive war on several fronts and the code talkers protected the allies' secrets communications on most, if not all, of these fronts. From the Comanche and the Choctaw against the German Army and France, to the Navajo in the Pacific theater, more than 17 tribes in all made immeasurable contributions to the war effort. These include Cheyenne, Comanche, Cherokee, Choctaw, Osage, Yankton Sioux, Chippewa, Creek, Hopi, Kiowa, Menominee, Muscogee-Seminole,
Javajo, Oneida, Paunee, Sac and Fox, and the Sioux, from both the Lakota and Dakota dialects.
The compelling story of how the rich heritage of our Native American peoples, their language, and their heroes ultimately played a major role in our winning World War II unfortunately took more than a half a century to be told. And it took as long for one of our Nation's highest honors to be bestowed upon these Native American heroes.
Today we honor their patriotism and their selflessness and their heroic actions, and America is grateful and proud for their contributions to our freedom. As proven by the code talkers, it is our heritage, and our people, that will always make America a great Nation.
I only regret that we as a Congress are so late in recognizing the contributions of American Indians to the allies' victory in World War II and that not all of the code talkers who served are alive today to accept this important honor. Even so, I am pleased we are [Page: H3616]
taking this action today; and as the daughter of a World War II veteran, I am also heartened by the progress we can all see on the national memorial now under construction on the Mall just
blocks from here.
As time passes, we cannot let the magnitude of the great victory our veterans achieved over the fanaticism of our World War II enemies fade from the national memory. As we face new military challenges today, from terrorists who also target and hate free societies, we can take extra inspiration from the bravery of our World War II veterans and the special place in history for the Native American code talkers. These brave soldiers went to war for the United States despite the historic mistreatment
of Native Americans by the very government they were fighting to defend.
I am honored to stand and honor the Sioux code talkers this morning. Congress has stipulated that recipients of this award shall have ``performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipients' field long after the achievement.'' The contribution of the code talkers to our great victory in World War II meets this high standard, and I am very pleased to join with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle
to recognize them today.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LUCAS of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from South Dakota (Mr. Thune), who is the primary principal author of this bill and who has worked very diligently on this effort.
Mr. THUNE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time and thank him for his efforts in bringing this legislation to the floor, as well as the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney), in giving us the opportunity to recognize these great American heroes.
Mr. Speaker, South Dakota has a long history that extends back before the founding of our country by Western explorers. Native American culture was a way of life based upon four key values: generosity, bravery, fortitude, and wisdom. Whether they were hunting for food, interacting with family members, or facing the trials of life, they always displayed these great and important values. Regrettably, the importance and revered culture of these great people was nearly erased from American history.
However, later, during the middle part of the last century, at a time when Indians were discouraged from practicing their native culture, a few brave men used their cultural heritage, their language, to help change the course of history. These men are known as the code talkers. They served our country with distinction in both the European and the Pacific fronts of World War II. The Sioux code talkers, who I represent, used their Lakota, Dakota and Nakota dialects to send coded communications
that the enemy was unable to crack. These brave men were often sent out on their own to communicate with headquarters regarding enemy location and strength without protection from the enemy. Sometimes they spent over 24 hours in headphones without sleep or food in deplorable conditions.
Today, military commanders credit the code talkers with saving the lives of countless American soldiers and being instrumental to the success of the United States military during World War II.
Two of these Sioux code talkers are still alive today: Clarence Wolf Guts of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Charles Whitepipe, Sr. of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
Unfortunately, the nine other Sioux code talkers, John Bear King of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Simon Broken Leg and Iver Crow Eagle, Sr. of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Eddie Eagle Boy and Philip LaBlanc of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Baptiste Pumpkinseed of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Edmund St. John of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, and Walter C. John of the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska have passed away.
Clarence Wolf Guts and Charles Whitepipe can tell us the stories of the trials and tribulations they faced as they served our country. The families of the other Sioux code talkers can pass on the stories told to them by their husband, father or uncle.
The legislation before us today finally honors the Sioux code talkers for their distinguished service to our country. In addition, the bill recognizes two other groups of code talkers who served our country with distinction. This bill distinguishes 14 Comanche code talkers for their dedication and service during World War II, and it also pays tribute to the Choctaw code talkers who served not only during World War II, but were known to have been used for their transmission of field communications
in their native languages during World War I. I appreciate the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Granger) and the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Watkins) working with me to recognize these heroes.
At a time in which we fully understand the meaning of the word ``hero,'' I believe we can all agree the code talkers are truly heroes of this country.
All of the code talkers provided safety to fellow Americans who were fighting so hard for our Nation. They did so by using their culture and their native language, which had been passed down to them through the generations. Above all, these code talkers brought respect to their Nation and victory to our country.
Last year, we rightly honored the Navajo code talkers for the important role that they played and for their heroism during World War II. It is now time to honor and recognize the Sioux, Comanche and Choctaw and code talkers for their contributions by awarding them Congressional Gold Medals.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be the sponsor of H.R. 3250, the Code Talkers Recognition Act, to honor the men who had risked their lives to save the lives of others. Congress should recognize these courageous men for their bravery and heroism in the face of adversity. Today, we will consider this important bill and finally recognize these men for their heroic efforts.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues, and I encourage all of my colleagues to support this important legislation. I thank the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Lucas) for his work in bringing it to the floor today and say to my colleagues on the floor that it is high time that we gave honor and due recognition to these brave men and the cultures that they represent.
Ms. GRANGER. Mr. Speaker, millions of people poured into movie theaters this weekend to see the movie ``Wind Talkers'' with Nicholas Cage. The movie is set during World War II against the backdrop of the horrific battle of Saipan; the drama revolves around the Navajo ``code talker.''
The so-called code talkers were native Americans who used their native dialect to radio important messages in code to our allied troops. The movie ``Wind Talkers'' focuses on a Navajo code talker who was the Marines' first new secret weapon against the Japanese. The movie explores just how far our Marines were willing to go to protect the code.
We all know that in our fast-paced, modern world, movies are our storytellers. Hollywood often misses some of the facts, but in this case I am proud to see the tale of these code talker heroes being told so publicly. In my mind, the Native American code talkers are some of the Nation's greatest heroes.
Today, it is time for Congress to give all of the Native American code talkers the recognition they deserve for their contribution to U.S. victories in World War I and World War II.
Like the Navajo code talkers who were recognized for services last year, the Comanche, Choctaw and Sioux Indians also served as code talkers in both the Pacific and European theaters during World War II. We also know that the Choctaw code talkers served our country as early as World War I.
These code talkers were sent out on their own to provide communications on enemy location and strength. They sometimes spent 24 hours using headphones without sleep or food. Many of [Page: H3617]
these men endured terrible conditions without protection from the enemy. Military commanders credit the code talkers with saving the lives of countless American soldiers and ultimately to the success of the United States in many battles.
The story of the code talkers was highlighted for me last year by a constituent of mine, Ben Tahmahkera. He came to me and pointed out that in July, President Bush honored the Navajo code talkers for their contribution to the United States Armed Forces as radio operators in World War II. Mr. Tahmahkera was very pleased to hear about the Navajo recognition, but he wanted to make sure the sacrifices of the Comanche code talkers and other code talkers were not forgotten either.
Ben Tahmahkera suggested that I learn more about Charles Chi-bitty, who today is the only surviving Comanche code talker. Charles Chi-bitty lives near Tulsa, Oklahoma, today and he is 80 years old. In January of 1941, Chi-bitty enlisted in the United States Army and was assigned to the Army's 4th signal company. Chi-bitty probably himself saved thousands of lives during the Normandy invasion alone and he can still remember the messages he received and sent out on D-Day. On that day he identified
where our troops were, protected them from being fired on by our own troops and, in general, completely confused the Germans. Chi-bitty specifically remembers saying in code to our men, ``Okay, we know where you are, just keep doing what you are doing.''
The code that Chi-bitty used was never broken and, for a long time, the Germans believed it was just gibberish. Eventually, the Germans sent spies to training grounds in Fort Gordon and to reservations in Oklahoma to try and crack the code. None of the spy missions were successful.
Charles Chi-bitty, a true American hero, was also a loyal friend. He once turned down the Medal of Honor because it did not include all members of the 4th signal company whom he considers his brothers. Chi-bitty says, ``I am glad I am still here, but I miss my comrades. I know that my comrades that have already gone before me are listening and laughing right now. I know when I go up there some day, they will be there waiting.''
Mr. Speaker, today we honor Charles Chi-bitty and all of the other Native American code talkers who so valiantly fought for our country and protected our Nation. H.R. 3250 authorizes the President to present a Congressional Gold Medal to these Native Americans who served as code talkers during both World War I and II. H.R. 3250 gives these men the honor they so richly deserve. Please support H.R. 3250.