United States Mint Tells Coin Buyers: Return to Sender

by CoinNews.net on November 1, 2007 · 5 comments

A consumer alert issued by the U.S. Mint late yesterday, October 31, warns buyers that some of the 2004 Lewis and Clark Coin and Pouch Sets are not authentic.

Under the best of circumstances, that’s hard news to publicize. But it’s not all dim and grim either. The Mint made a positive announcement and they’ve gone further by offering refunds with a payment of up to $130. What are the details?

Background of the 2004 Lewis and Clark Coin and Pouch Set

The special Mint sets in question were originally issued at a price of $120. They were limited in quantity and fairly popular – popular enough to sellout in 23 days.

In addition to the included proof Lewis and Clark commemorative silver dollar that celebrated the 200th anniversary of their journey, part of the attraction for the set was the inclusion of an authentic American Indian pouch.

The Mint said it best at the time:

"Each Lewis and Clark Coin & Pouch Set includes a unique leather pouch that was personally cut, tanned and decorated by members of Tribes that figured prominently in the Lewis and Clark saga."

It certainly was an interesting concept. And although popular at the time, the unfortunate thing is that the sets haven’t held their value. (You can read an interesting blog on Numismaster.com about this very thing.)

Some of the pouches cause the refund announcement

As it turns out, the Mint recently learned from the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB) that one of the organizations who produced some of the pouches doesn’t meet the legal requirements to officially produce or market authentic Indian products. That organization is the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band of Ohio.

Curiously, at the time they produced the pouches everything was seemingly fine. But the organization apparently dropped their membership in the Circle of Tribal Advisors (COTA) in 2005, resulting in a chain-reaction and the current situation.

Information on who can return the bicentennial coin and pouch sets and where to send for refunds

The sets that are eligible for return are limited to those with pouches made by the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band of Ohio. If you have one of these sets and want to return it, here are your options:

  1. First, you must have the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) that came with the Mint set and it must name the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band of Ohio as the maker of the pouch
  2. Second, if you want to keep the Lewis and Clark bicentennial silver dollar but return the pouch, you can do so and receive a refund of $90 (part of that $90 includes $10 for shipping)
  3. Or, if you wish to return the entire set (coin and pouch), you’ll receive $130 (includes $10 for shipping)

In order to get the refund, you must select your option, and then send the appropriate contents, including the Certificate of Authenticity, by insured mail or overnight delivery to:

United States Mint, ATTN:  Indian Arts & Crafts Return, 801 9th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001. 

Inside of the shipping package be sure to include the return address and all mailing information for the refund, along with a note indicating that the item is to be directed to the Indian Arts & Crafts Return.

In conclusion…

It’ll be interesting to see where prices head after the dust settles with the returns. And what will the Mint do with the returned coins?

The Mint announcement, United States Mint Offers Refund for Pouches That Are Not Authentic American Indian Products includes additional information and was used as a reference in this article. You may find the Mint’s Consumer Alert page useful as well.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Black Wind November 10, 2007 at 2:17 am

Please visit, http://www.zaneshawneecaverns.net and click the Press Release to view the response to this article.

Black Wind November 14, 2007 at 7:58 pm

Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band of Ohio Strikes Back
Concerning the Validity of State Recognition of the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band of Ohio
A press release on the website of the United States Mint dated October 31st stated,
“ The United States Mint is offering a refund of $130 to persons who own the 2004 United States Mint Lewis and Clark Coin and Pouch Set, if the pouch was produced by the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band of Ohio. The U.S. Mint has learned that neither the state nor Federal authorities recognize the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band of Ohio as an official Indian tribe. Therefore, the pouch is not an authentic American Indian arts and crafts product.”
Leo Jennings, spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office mis-spoke (maliciously or not) concerning the worth of the State Recognition of the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band of Ohio (Joint Resolution SUB.AM. H.J.R. 8, 1980). The Attorney General’s Office claims this document has no legal bearing (is not a serious document). This recent unjustified attack falls somewhere in the general area of liable/slander/defamation of character.
According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, Chapter 5, titled “Enacting Legislation”, there are two categories of major documents that embody the work of the General Assembly. They are resolutions and bills. Resolutions, generally, are formal expressions of the opinions and wishes of the General Assembly and do not require the approval of the Governor.
There are three types of resolutions: Joint, Concurrent and Simple. Joint Resolutions are used only to ratify proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, to call for a federal constitutional convention, or when required by custom or a statute.
For example, proposals seeking to amend the Ohio Constitution are customarily offered as Joint Resolutions. Joint Resolutions require the approval of both Houses and after approval must be filed with the Secretary of State. How could anything be more serious than that?
Unlike the other two forms of resolution (Concurrent and Simple) which amount to a commendation or congratulation for a group or event of interest to one or both of the Houses of the Legislature, the Joint Resolution is the form of resolution that carries legal merit.
Beginning in 1979, the Ohio Legislature’s Interstate Cooperation Committee held hearings to determine if the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band of Ohio had a good enough case for state recognition to put such resolution before the House and the Senate for a vote to adopt the joint resolution.
The submission of maps, genealogy, documents, photographs, tribal rolls, etc. was part of the hearings process. Testimony supporting the case was also given by tribal members, the Ohio Historical Society, and the Legislative Review Commission. The rough draft was read in the committee hearings repeatedly, discussed, altered and finally emerged as Substitute Amended House Joint Resolution 8.
Then it was voted on in the Ohio House of Representatives, which passed, and then voted on (unanimous) in the Ohio Senate and passed. It was finally adopted as a House Joint Resolution to recognize the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band of Ohio as the descendents of the original historic Shawnee Nation.
The Joint Resolution to recognize the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band of Ohio has clearly been mis-defined as being one of the lesser forms of resolution. The Ohio Attorney General is required to know the difference between the three types of resolutions and his ignorance of legislative process has caused The Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band serious harm.
The Attorney General’s recent erroneous statements about our State Recognition have caused the United States Mint to recall small beaded pouches made by our tribal crafters for the Lewis & Clark Commemorative Coins and Pouch Set and has served to defame and humiliate our good people.
The U.S. Mint is not without responsibility in this matter. They did not even speak to us before making erroneous statements and acting in such a damaging and irresponsible manner. As a side note of interest, recognition of any kind (state or federal) was NOT REQUIRED as per the contract the U.S. Mint signed with the Lewis and Clark Circle of Tribal Advisors of which The Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band was a member at the time. Does anyone yet read their own laws and legal contracts before they act to do harm to anyone?
The Indian Arts and Crafts Board is part of the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior was the primary U.S. Governmental entity that interfaced with the whole Lewis & Clark effort and was fully supportive of the Circle of Tribal Advisors (which at that time the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band was a member and in good standing) and their actions.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is also part of the Department of the Interior and has been fully aware of our State recognition and did so acknowledge in a letter to U.S. Congressman Tony Hall. The letter is dated May 16, 1986 and states, “We did receive on March 25th, 1980 a copy of the resolution granting state recognition for the group. We acknowledged our receipt of the state’s resolution on April 4th, 1980.” Copies are available upon request from the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band.
Governor Richard F. Celeste (governor at that time), in a letter to the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band stated “on behalf of the citizens of the state of Ohio, I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of the third anniversary of official state recognition of your tribe as the Shawnee Nation”. This letter is dated January 29, 1984; copies are available upon request from the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band.
The erroneous statements of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the United States Mint and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board feels to us like a joint effort to slander and defame the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band. We wonder how much this may have to do with Ohio’s fear that the Oklahoma Shawnee will manage to establish a casino in Ohio, or perhaps our ability to use past treaty deficiencies to bring action against the state legally. We have no such present intention nor do we desire to support like action.
However, we are seriously considering legal remedy to the irreparable harm done to our good name and reputation. At the very least, on behalf of the people of the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band, I demand a complete retraction of the lies stated and also demand an apology in the media from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, from the United States Mint, and from the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.
Chief Hawk Pope, Principal Chief Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band of Ohio

Eric January 4, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Interesting article how the US is inforcing that no one else coins their own money. I don’t think the US government is ever going to allow this.


Robert Kroning November 1, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Sounds like this tribe has been badly treated. Their case rings true.

Bill Nehring November 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm

The 2 government agencies read the law wrong. It says that only artists who are members of a federal or state recognized tribe (AND artists authorized by such tribe to produce artifacts) can sold as authentic Indian artifacts. Since tribes in the COTA alliance all recognized the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band, that is their authorization and their pouches met the criteria for Indian artifacts. Whether they dropped their COTA membership later is immaterial. In fact, COTA ceased to exist after the bicentennial was over and the funds from the pouch sales were distributed. The pouches were legal at the time they were made and the dates on the COA show that. Whether the tribe meets the criteria to currently sell their crafts as Native American is something that may have to be determined by the courts. The agency in charge of protecting native american crafts made a bad judgement call here, and the mint cooperated to make a show of protecting Native American crafts by offering the refund. Apparently, no one at either agency bothered to really check out the facts before deciding to label these artists’ work as bogus and ordering the refund offer. Unfortunately, the one action they have taken has not hurt the people producing and selling foreign made “Indian” artifacts to great profit. It has hurt actual Native Americans who signed up to bead some pouches to make a few dollars and help raise a lot of money for preservation of Indian languages. While the artists don’t have to return their $30 share of the sale price, they have been publicly defamed and portrayed as scam artists illegally passing off their work as Native American. I’m surprised they haven’t filed suit against the Mint and the “Indian” agency that labeled their work as illegitimate. But then, it cost a lot to sue and without a casino, this small band is not exactly flush.

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