Families of Meskwaki Congressional Medal Recipients Upset

By Brady Smith, Anchor/Reporter

TAMA COUNTY, Iowa - Some members of the Sac and Fox - or Meskwaki - tribe are frustrated over a medal ceremony in Washington D.C. last month. The ceremony awarded Congressional Silver Medals to native American Indians who served as code talkers in World Wars I and II.

Some of the sons and daughters of the Meskwaki code talkers went to the ceremony, only to find out that their individual silver medals wouldn't be presented to them. During the silver medal ceremony, Melissa Youngbear, daughter of one of the Meskwaki code talkers, approached a coordinator to see when she'd receive his medal.

"We spoke to her, and she said, 'you're not getting any medals. They've been shipped back to the tribal building,'" Youngbear said. She admitted that there had been some discussion about that before she went to Washington D.C., but feels one important part was left out.

"They did say 'we're going to ship the medals back,' but I thought we'd receive them, and then ship them," Youngbear told us. Since then, she had no knowledge about where her father's medal was.

"I haven't heard anything about them since we got back. Nobody's called me or talked to me," Youngbear said.

But just moments later, our interview took an unexpected turn, when Lavern Jefferson, a legion post commander, showed up.

"You're getting your medals. All of the families are getting their medals," Jefferson told Youngbear.

But even after that news, Youngbear was still disappointed that she wasn't told about that plan sooner.

"The families that went on this trip went for nothing," Youngbear said to Jefferson. He responded, "I understand that. I had nothing to do with that. I'm trying to make it right with the families. I know the medals belong to you guys, and when they get here, I will be handing them over to you."

Jefferson declined to be interviewed on camera, but he told us that Youngbear and the families of the other Meskwaki medal recipients will get the medals during a New Year's Eve powwow.

We reached out the Meskwaki Tribal Council for comment, but we had not received a response as of Tuesday evening.
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