Congress passed an act in 2008 recognizing the work of the Code Talkers who used their native language to pass messages to confuse the enemy during World Wars I and II.
Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, one of only a few Native Americans in Congress, spoke during the ceremony.
"In the long history of American arms, no one has fought against, in alliance with, and for the United States like Native Americans," Cole says. "And that's true to this day. Native Americans still enlist at a higher level than any other race or ethnicity in this blessed land. And they do so proudly, and with a determination to defend it."
(Editor's Note: Fast-forward to the 42:00 mark for the start of the ceremony)
Cole says ten tribes from Oklahoma received medals Wednesday, including the Choctaw, Comanche, and Kiowa Tribes, which are located in his Fourth Congressional District.
Cherokee Nation Veterans Representative Raymond Vann says the medal ceremony is one way to recognize the importance of Native Americans' service in the defense of the United States. Vann says many served despite federal government policies at the time being unfriendly.