The 2001 American Buffalo Commemorative Silver Dollars were struck by the US Mint as one of two commemorative coins series issued that year. The Mint released the strikes for sale to the public on June 7, 2001.
Featured on the obverse and reverse of the coins was one of America’s most beloved coin designs – James Earle Fraser’s classic Native American and Buffalo design first seen on the 1913-1938 circulating nickel. Many commonly refer to that coin as the "Indian Head Nickel" or the "Buffalo Nickel" with the designs found on it considered some of the most beautiful ever to grace an American coin.
The coins were authorized by Congress with the American Buffalo Coin Commemorative Coin Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-375). Despite having a maximum mintage of 500,000 coins, the silver dollars sold out in two weeks making it one of the few modern commemorative coins to do so.
The obverse of the coin features a profile of a Native American Chief and was designed by James Earle Fraser originally for the 1913 circulating nickel. The design is said to be a composition of three different Native Americans. Surrounding the portrait are the inscriptions of LIBERTY and 2001.
The reverse of the strike was also taken from the 1913 nickel and was also originally designed by James Earle Fraser. It shows an American Bison (also known as a buffalo) standing. Surrounding the creature are the inscriptions of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN GOD WE TRUST, E PLURIBUS UNUM and ONE DOLLAR.
Proof American Buffalo Commemorative Silver Dollars were struck at the US Mint’s facility in Philadelphia. The uncirculated silver dollars were struck in Denver.
Surcharges collected on the sale of these strikes were forwarded to the National Museum of the American Indian.