Last Tuesday, Oct. 16, the United States Mint unveiled candidate designs for the 2021 Native American $1 Coin.
Introduced in 2009, this U.S. Mint series of dollars features annually changing reverses that celebrate the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the history and development of the United States.
Seventeen proposed designs were introduced for the 2021 dollar. The year’s coin pays tribute to the service of American Indians in the U.S. armed forces.
U.S. Mint descriptions and images of the candidate designs follow:
American Indians have served in the armed forces of the United States in each of our nation’s conflicts, beginning with the American Revolutionary War and our quest for independence from Great Britain. Their valor has been recognized by many decorations, including five Medals of Honor during World War II. This exemplary record of military service continues to this day.
Some of our consultants, which include the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the House of Representatives, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, have noted that American Indians have served in the U.S. military at a higher rate in proportion to their population than any other American ethnic group.
The following candidate designs carry the required inscriptions "United States of America" and "$1."
Candidate Design Images and Descriptions
NA-2021-01 and NA-2021-01A use uniforms to represent how American Indians in U.S. military service spans every era of U.S. history. On the left side is a U.S. soldier of the American Revolutionary War and on the right side is a U.S. soldier of the present day. In NA-2021-01A, the stripes of the U.S. flag appear in the background.
The element that unifies the past with the present is the tomahawk, a versatile weapon unique to the early Native American arsenal that was passed down and still in use by today’s American ground forces. Additional inscriptions include "U.S." in NA-2021-01 and "American Indians in U.S. Military Service" in NA-2021-01A.
NA-2021-02 and NA-2021-02A depict three soldiers representing Native Americans who fought in the American Revolutionary War through to the current day. Two soldiers from the past look back, while the modern soldier looks forward. Five stars represent branches of the military forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. In NA-2021-02A, the circle (often called the sacred circle) is emblematic of many things in many Native American cultures, with the common thread being the living world in balance with no beginning and no end. Both designs feature the additional inscription "Proud & Courageous Service of Native Americans."
NA-2021-03 features an eagle, which is highly revered and considered sacred in Native American culture. Here, the eagle serves as a symbol of the values and abilities of Native American service members, and the high regard held for that service. Symbolic elements of five stars and a circle define the outline of the eagle. Included in the design is the additional inscription "Native Americans in U.S. Armed Forces Since 1775."
NA-2021-04 and NA-2021-04A feature eagle feathers, which were traditionally earned in battle or by performing a brave deed. Eagle feathers are revered and respected, receiving the utmost care and handling, and are to be displayed proudly in homes. Stars representing five branches of the U.S. Military are in the foreground, while in NA-2021-04A a circle provides an additional reference to Native Americans. Included in the designs is the additional inscription "Native Americans — Distinguished Military Service Since 1775."
NA-2021-05 and NA-2021-05A show three Native Americans in the United States military. In the center, a man is dressed and adorned as a Native American man might have been while serving in the American Revolutionary War. On the left, a woman saluting wears the uniform of the Women’s Army Corps of World War II; on the right, a man is outfitted as a modern day Marine, carrying an M16A4 rifle. Together, these three figures represent the range of time periods in which Native Americans have served their country during war. NA-2021-05 features the additional inscription "American Indians in US Military Service."
NA-2021-06 features a Native American soldier in contemporary battle gear, a Native American riding bareback, and a variety of military vehicles and aircraft from different eras. These elements identify the contributions of Native Americans not only as fighting soldiers, but also as pilots, gunners, engineers, medics, intelligence officers and other personnel. NA-2021-06A eliminates the vehicles from the composition. Included in both designs is the additional inscription "Native Americans in Military Service."
NA-2021-07 depicts a Native American soldier saluting during World War I. Included in the design is the additional inscription "Native American Service."
NA-2021-08 and NA-2021-09 feature a soldier together with an eagle staff, the American Indian equivalent of the national flag, and the United States flag, representing the heritage, traditions, and patriotism of Native American warriors. In NA-2021-08, the soldier proudly salutes the eagle staff and the flag, while in NA-2021-09 the eagle staff and the flag are held in the soldier’s grasp.
NA-2021-10 and NA-2021-10A depict two Native American figures, one as an Oneida Warrior serving during the American Revolutionary War, and the other as a contemporary soldier currently defending our nation. Additional inscriptions include "A Tradition of Service" in NA-2021-10 and "A Native American Tradition of Service" in NA-2021-10A.
NA-2021-11 depicts a young Native American soldier who kneels for a moment to remember and pay respect to his elders, those ancestors who have served in the military to help defend the United States as well as the great warriors who participated in customary tribal warfare. The war bonnet the young man wears symbolizes this tradition and is a reminder that for many Native Americans, modern military service is a continuation of the warrior’s role in Native cultures. Additional elements include thirteen stars and the inscription "Honoring American Indians in U.S. Military."