The official $1 Native American coin for 2009 has been released. It features a Native American woman planting seeds in a field of corn, beans and squash, representing what’s known as the “Three Sisters” method of planting.
Public Law 110-82 directed the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue the new $1 coin to recognize Native Americans for their contributions to the history and development of the United States.
The coin was released into circulation in January. It will circulate along with the United States Mint’s Presidential $1 coins. It is minted in gold-colored alloy, like the current Presidential $1 coins.
“We are proud to produce the Native American $1 coin,” said U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy. “When Americans use this coin, we hope they reflect on the tremendous contributions Native Americans have made, and continue to make, to our nation.”
Mitch Sanders, chairman of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, told Indian Country Today that he was impressed by how clearly the design illustrated the theme of Native Americans and agriculture.
“We liked its aesthetic appeal and the fact that a Native American woman is shown being strongly involved in agriculture,” Sanders said after the creation was first unveiled in June.
The design is by U.S Mint Sculptor-Engraver Norman E. Nemeth. Inscriptions featured with the agricultural design are “United States of America” and “$1.” The year, mint mark and “E Pluribus Unum” are engraved on the coin’s edge.
The coin’s obverse side features an image of Sacagawea, the young Shoshone woman who accompanied Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their historic expedition.
The image of the woman planting seeds will change in 2010, and new Native-focused designs will be released at the beginning of each ensuing year.
The Secretary of the Treasury approved the design after consulting with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the House of Representatives, the National Congress of American Indians, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, and the Commission of Fine Arts.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee who sponsored the legislation that helped make the coin possible, said it is a unique way to remind the American people of the contributions of Native Americans to the country.
“I am proud to have been able to continue and expand this coin program with a new coin minted every year,” said Dorgan. “It is my hope that it is a source of pride in the Native American community, and reminds all Americans of our commitment to the Native populations.”
As required by law, at least 20 percent of all $1 coins minted and issued in any year will be Native American $1 coins.
The coins will be issued in chronological order, to the greatest extent possible, of the events or persons featured.
Design plans for the next coin in the series are now in the works. Narratives for the reverse design image of the 2010 Native American $1 coin image were presented to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee in November, 2008.