On November 20, 2013 American Indian code talkers from 33 tribal nations were honored by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. During the ceremony, 67 South Dakotan Native American code talkers were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor for the their efforts in World War II. The code talkers hailed from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe.
In 2008, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the Code Talker Recognition Act. This act authorized the creation of the gold medals to honor the Native American code talkers. Each tribe designed their own medals, which were produced by the U.S. Mint. The Congressional Gold Medal of Honor is the highest award that Congress can give.
Several Senators and Representatives spoke during the November 2013 ceremony, including then Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota. A member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Senator Johnson delivered remarks honoring the code talkers he was able to meet during his time as an elected official. During his remarks, Senator Johnson noted the valiant efforts of the Native American code talkers during the war, although many were not yet citizens of the United States. While some American Indians were granted citizenship through landownership, marriage to a non-Native, and by other treaties and special agreements, all Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924, with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act.