A bill to require the secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue coins in commemoration of Native Americans was introduced May 17 as H.R. 2358 by Rep. Dale E. Kildee, D-Mich. The legislation appears to be designed to create an ideal companion issue to the Presidential dollars with mandates that do not interfere with the Presidential program and modifies terms of its enabling law to make the mandate more easily met.
The Kildee bill also calls for recognition of ?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.?
Ordinarily, such a bill would be of no moment, but Kildee is a 16-term congressman and among the four co-sponsors is Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which has charge over all coinage matters. The legislation was marked, ?Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.?
The other sponsors are Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a third-term member; Bob Enzi, R-Ariz., another third-term member, and Dan Boren, D-Okla.
Bipartisan support is for the measure that would add to the reverse of the Sacagawea dollar ?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. It would not interfere with the Presidential dollar series.
Change would come to the reverse, eliminating Tom Roger?s majestic eagle in flight, in exchange for thematic designs. 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.
Proposed designs ?shall be chosen by the 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,? the bill provides.
Some suggested, variable designs include, ?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; and code talkers who served the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I and World War II.
The bill says that ?in the case of a design depicting the contribution of an individual Native American to the development of the United States and the history of the United States, shall not depict the individual in a size such that the coin could be considered to be a ?2-headed? coin.?
To force circulation and prevent the Presidential program from overwhelming it, ?the number of $1 coins minted and issued in a year with the Sakakawea-design on the obverse shall be not less than 20 percent of the total number of $1 coins minted and issued in such year.? This is a change from the current requirement that the Sacagawea dollar be struck in quantities equal to a third of the total dollars issued.
No hearings have yet been scheduled for the measure, which must clear both houses, and gain the President?s signature, before it can become law.