Smithsonian

Importance of the medals to the U.S. government

Without medals, any plan of operations among the Indians, be it what it may, is essentially enfeebled. This comes of the high value which the Indians set upon these tokens of Friendship. They are, besides this indication of the Government Friendship, badges of power to them, and trophies of renown. They will not consent to part from this ancient right, as they esteem it; and according to the value they set upon medals is the importance to the Government in having them to bestow.

Thomas L. McKenney, head of the Indian Office, to the secretary of the War Department, 1829