Skip to main content

Mint Shines with Native American Dollar Series

by Thomas Michael 

The United States Mint Native American $1 series, which started in 2009, has proven to be a bit of a mystery to the general population. The first reaction from many non-collectors is “What’s this?” upon encountering them in change. Of course, we have always noticed a lack of recognition in regular commerce for all of our dollar coins in modern times. Whenever we have visitors in our offices, they still express amazement when the vending machines provide them dollar coins when breaking a $5 bill.

However, the U.S. Mint has done an excellent job over the years of attracting attention to our dollar coins by selecting great themes and initiating unusual twists, like the enhanced uncirculated issues and West Point strikes. The Presidential series was great fun for those of a historical bent, and the Mint’s use of reverse proofs late in the series caused both increased interest and incentive to collect.

Since 2011, the Native American dollar coins have been produced in more limited numbers and not released to circulation. This approach has not had a big effect on values, but it has focused public attention much more in our collecting communities, where appreciation of the lovely designs and honorable themes is more heightened.

The reverse of the 2019 Native American $1 enhanced uncirculated coin shows Mary Golda Ross and features a background set in Space. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint.)

The reverse of the 2019 Native American $1 enhanced uncirculated coin shows Mary Golda Ross and features a background set in Space.(Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint.)

The intricacies of the 2019 space design honoring Mary Golda Ross and the recently announced 2020 issue for Elizabeth Peratrovich/Anti-Discrimination Law of 1945 with its Alaskan motif have elevated this series to a new level, in my opinion. Though I have never been strictly a U.S. coin collector, preferring the variety of designs available in world coin collecting much more, this series has caught my interest and drawn me into the fold.

As we approach our Coin of the Year nomination meeting, I am very pleased to see that the U.S. Mint is also very proud of what they have done in the Native American dollar coin series. The COTY will honor 2018-dated coins this year, and the Mint has decided to nominate their 2018 Jim Thorpe Wa-Tho-Huk Native American dollar in the Best Contemporary Coin category. This can be a challenging and competitive category in the COTY process, but the personal athletic history of Thorpe and the high quality of the design created by Michael Gaudioso should give this coin a good chance of faring well and representing the Native American dollar series in strong fashion.

This “Viewpoint” was written by Thomas Michael, a longtime market analyst with more than 100 industry references to his credit.

To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to Editor, Numismatic News, 5225 Joerns Drive, Stevens Point WI, 54481. Email submissions can be sent to