In the final step before becoming a law, congress presented the president with H.R. 2358, Native American $1 Coin Act, for his signature. Introduced in the House of Representatives by Dale Kildee (D-MI 5th), and expected to be signed by the president, the bill calls for the reverse of the Sacagawea Dollar be redesigned every year to commemorate “of Native Americans and the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the development of the United States and the history of the United States.” The obverse will continue to have the Sacagawea design.

The bill calls for the denomination to be inscribed as “$1,” making it consistent with the Presidential dollars. The bill also calls for the same edge lettering used by the Presidential dollars to include the date and mint mark along with the inscriptions E Pluribus Unum and In God We Trust. As for the reverse designs, the bill calls for the Mint to consult the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the House of Representatives, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the National Congress of American Indians, along with the usual bureaucracy of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee to vet the coin design. With the burden of this bureaucracy, the bill changes the start date to January 1, 2009 if enacted after August 25, 2007.

An interesting clause in the bill says that the design are to be issued “in the chronological order in which the Native Americans lived or the events occurred.” Since there is no specific end date to the program, it appears that the bureaucratic hurdles the Mint is being asked to jump for this program will need the extra year to determine a schedule. And if that was not enough, congress, who is not shy in making its own design suggestions, included the following potential designs in the bill:

  • the creation of Cherokee written language
  • the Iroquois Confederacy
  • Wampanoag Chief Massasoit
  • the “Pueblo Revolt”
  • Olympian Jim Thorpe
  • Ely S. Parker, a general on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant and later head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • code talkers who served the United States Armed Forces during World War I and World War II

In addition to these new reverses, change to the circulating coinage will include new reverses on the Lincoln cent and Presidential Dollars with the reverses honoring, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, and Zachary Taylor. Non-circulating legal tender coins will include the Abraham Lincoln and Louis Braille commemoratives, special 2009 cent with the original copper composition, and the First Spouse gold coins honoring Anna Harrison, Letitia and, Julia Tyler, Sarah Polk, and Margaret Taylor. Finally, if H.R.392 is passed in the Senate (it passed in the House last January), the 50 State Quarters program will be extended to include the District of Columbia and the five territories.

It looks like 2009 could be a great year in numismatics!

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