The United States Mint and new 2009 Native American $1 Coins helped launch the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) festival, "Out of Many: A Multicultural Festival of Music, Dance and Story."
The Saturday event was an official release ceremony for the coins too, as well as their images. Previously, only the 2009 Native American coin designs were readily available. Collectors and the public have been able to purchase 25-coin rolls of the coins since Thursday, Jan. 15, and in quantities of $250 or $500 through its Direct Ship Program since Jan. 2.
During the festival, Mint Director Ed Moy and NMAI Director Kevin Gover issued the $1 coins from an authentic handcrafted Native American basket, according to a Mint statement.
Children 18 years old and younger received one for free. Adults exchanged paper money for the coins.
"With this coin, we hope to educate Americans, as the museum does, on how Native Americans helped make this country the premier food producer in the world," Director Moy said.
The dollar coins bear the familiar Sacagawea heads design introduced in 2000 and a new reverse by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Norman E. Nemeth. Nemeth’s themed design depicts a Native American woman planting seeds in a field of corn, beans and squash emblematic of the "Three Sisters" method of planting.
The Native American $1 Coin Act passed in late 2007 authorizes a different design every year and an equal mintage with each yearly Presidential $1 coin.