New legislation was approved by Congress this week that’s intended to stir the pot with the Sacagawea golden dollar.
The desire is to create fresh, recurring excitement with the Sacagawea dollar to commemorate Native Americans while also promoting its use in daily circulation.
What’s the plan to make most of this happen? In short, replicate the Presidential $1 Coin series.
The details of the Sacagawea amendment and the coin’s design overhaul
The new Sacagawea amendment [H.R. 2358] is named the "Native American $1 Coin Act" and is awaiting the signature of President Bush. If signed (likely), the legislation will amend changes to the Sacagawea $1 series to:
- Require annual redesigns to the coin’s reverse image, "celebrating important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the history and development of the United States"
- Include edge-incusing inscriptions
- Sets a mintage amount, "to be not less than 20% of the total number of $1 coins minted and issued in such year."
- Enjoy aggressive marketing efforts to promote its use in daily circulation
Among the reverse design suggestions in the bill:
(I) the creation of Cherokee written language;
(II) the Iroquois Confederacy;
(III) Wampanoag Chief Massasoit;
(IV) the `Pueblo Revolt’;
(V) Olympian Jim Thorpe;
(VI) Ely S. Parker, a general on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant and later head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and
(VII) code talkers who served the United States Armed Forces during World War I and World War II
Interestingly, the amendment was set to begin the Sacagawea changes in early 2008. However, passage was too slow so the stipulation in the law dictates the changes will now occur in early 2009.
Will a new series improve Sacagawea coin usage?
Since 2005, the United States Mint has produced just over 20 million Sacagawea $1 coins. Will increasing production and making the Sacagawea series more like the new Presidential $1 coins help their acceptance for use in daily circulation?
- Nearly 800 million Washington, Adams and Jefferson Presidential $1 coins have been made this year for circulation.
- The Madison $1 coin will be released this year too with a likely production of close to 200 million coins
Almost ONE BILLION $1 coins will be on the street this year. Or, more than three times the total population of everyone here in the U.S. That’s a lot of coins!
But, have you received one of the new Presidential $1 coins for change at your local grocery or convenience store?
If you haven’t, don’t be alarmed. Ask your colleagues, family and friends and most will tell you the same thing – they haven’t either.
Creating a new law for the Sacagawea and designing it after the new Presidential $1 Coin program may have a few flaws!
What will a new Sacagawea $1 series achieve?
The new Sacagawea $1 coins will likely be exciting for coin collectors. They’ll also help commemorate Native Americans and provide historical education. Congressman Dal Kildee, who originally sponsored the bill, said it this way:
“I was glad to introduce this bill. I can think of no better way to pay tribute to the Native American people than to honor their contribution to the development of the United States and her history,” Congressman Kildee said. “The designs on the coin will take the American people through a journey of different experiences of native peoples by exposing them to their unique histories while preserving the memory of Sacagawea.”
However, there’s very little chance these changes will entice consumers to carry Sacagawea’s around in their pockets or purses and actually use them every day.
If the Presidential $1 coins aren’t getting that job accomplished, the new Sacagawea dollars won’t either.
It’s unfortunate but the facts, at least so far, bear out. Until the public is moved to feel a much stronger need to use $1 coins, like removing the $1 paper bill from circulation, any $1 coin will suffer loneliness in daily use.