As part of the law that created the Presidential $1 Coins, congress authorized the creation of the Native American dollars. The law says that the obverse would continue to feature the portrait of Sacagawea and the revers depict “images celebrating 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.” Selection of the theme is to be made in consulting with the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Congress of American Indians, and after public review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
Although the law required Sacagawea to remain on the obverse, the date, mintmark and the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” were relocated to the edge of the coin.
Aside from being thoughtful themes, the designs have been met with critical acclaim by the Native American interest groups, historians, and artists. As part of the program, the U.S. Mint has created lesson plans for teachers to use as supplementary material for their classes that coordinate with the release of the coins. These materials show how the lessons fit within the Common Core education requirements.
The Native American $1 Program is a straight forward series. Each year the reverse changes for the chosen theme. Business strike coins are struck in Philadelphia and Denver while proof coins are struck in San Francisco.
For collectors of special sets, the U.S. Mint includes the Native American $1 coin in the Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set. These sets also include the uncirculated Presidential $1 Coins (through 2016) and an uncirculated American Silver Eagle coin that was minted at West Point. The American Silver Eagle is the collector version, not the bullion coin that is sold through investment channels.
Since 2014, the U.S. Mint has produced a Coin and Currency Set that includes a proof Native American $1 Coin and a $1 Federal Reserve Note in the most recently issued series printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The coin and note are attached to a folder with information about the theme of the coin. In 2015, the Mohawk Ironworkers coin was struck as an enhanced uncirculated coin minted in West Point and included a Federal Reserve Note from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Since the Mohawk Ironworkers were depicted as helping build the New York skyline, it was deemed appropriate to pair the coin with a Federal Reserve Note also from New York.
Currently, the following reverse themes have been approved for future Native American $1 coins:
- 2018: Jim Thorpe
- 2019: Native Americans in Space
- 2020: Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945
In the last installment, we look at Presidential Dollars.