Weighing in on the new reverse design for the Sacagawea dollar mandated by Congress, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee viewed more than a dozen designs June 18 before selecting a female Indian planting maize (corn) in a field. The design is intended for use on the 2009 dollar coin, which is the first that will host a Native American theme.
Each year thereafter a different Native American design will appear.
The design on the obverse is not necessarily the old Sacagawea design. It is to be chosen by the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, after consultation with the Commission of Fine Arts and review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
There are two requirements: it must
? contain the so-called ?Sacagawea design? and
? the inscription ?Liberty.?
Despite recent difficulties with edge-lettering, the law requires that the inscription of the year of minting and issuance of the coin and the inscriptions ?E Pluribus Unum? and ?In God We Trust? are required to be edge-incused into the coin. The CCAC formally recommended the date movement, too.
There is a specific requirement that the edge-incusing of the inscriptions be done in a manner that preserves the distinctive edge of the coin so that the denomination of the coin is readily discernible, including by individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
There is an additional consultation requirement: designs selected for the reverse shall be chosen by the Treasury Secretary after consultation with 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. They must further be reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
Congress suggested some design themes to offer its guidance on how the coins should be designed which appears at odds with the end result honoring agriculture. Specific examples appear in the law.
They ?may depict individuals and events such as 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 Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and later head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, code talkers who served the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I and World War II.?
Nothing that could be considered a ?two headed? coin would be permitted.
The law requires that each design for the reverse of the $1 coins issued during each year shall be emblematic of a single important Native American. Each $1 coin minted ?shall be available throughout the entire one-year period,? the new law says.
They also shall be issued, to the maximum extent practicable, in the chronological order in which the Native Americans lived or the events occurred, until the termination of the coin program.
Numismatic coins are specifically denominated: ?the Secretary may mint and issue such number of $1 coins of each design selected in uncirculated and proof qualities as the Secretary determines to be appropriate.?
As to how many: the number of $1 coins minted and issued in a year with the Sacagawea design on the obverse shall be not less than 20 percent of the total number of $1 coins minted and issued in such year. Thus, dollar coin demand will be shared between the Presidential dollar program and the Sacagawea design.
Recognizing that there are ?barriers to circulation,? the bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury to ?carry out an aggressive, cost-effective, continuing campaign to encourage commercial enterprises to accept and dispense $1 coins that have as designs on the obverse the so-called ?Sacagawea design,?? and calls for an annual report on the success of the efforts to be submitted to Congress.
CCAC?s second choice was a design featuring three female Indians surrounded by squash, corn and beans. It represented the traditional Three Sisters system of planting the crops.
To the Iroquois people, corn, beans, and squash are the Three Sisters ? the physical and spiritual sustainers of life. The three vegetables comprised their main food supply. Iroquois women mixed their crops, using a system called ?interplanting.?
?What ended up carrying the day for our selection was how clearly it represented the theme of Native Americans and agriculture,? CCAC chairman Mitch Sanders said. ?We liked its aesthetic appeal and the fact that a Native American woman is shown being strongly involved in agriculture.?
The ongoing Sacagawea program is expected to last until at least until 2016. Next stop is a mandatory review by the Commission of Fine Arts. Then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will make a design choice for next year?s dollar coinage.