US Coins

Commission of Fine Arts picks Native American dollar designs

The Commission of Fine Arts Oct. 15 selected a design, above left, depicting Sequoyah for the reverse of the 2017 Native American dollar, and above, right, a proposed design featuring Jim Thorpe for the 2018 Native American dollar reverse.

Images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

The Commission of Fine Arts Oct. 15 parted with the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee over what designs to recommend for the reverses of the Native American dollars in 2017 and 2018.

For the 2017 dollar, which carries an obverse featuring Sacagawea, the guide who led Lewis and Clark across the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, the CFA recommends a design showing a tightly cropped image of Sequoyah creating the written Cherokee syllabary. 

It became the script for writing the language of the Cherokee Nation and ranks as one of the great contributions made by a Native American.

The CCAC had selected another design showing Sequoyah depicted within an inner circle on the coin creating the written language.

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For the 2018 dollar, the CFA rejected a CCAC-based design some members of that panel had predicted could become a celebrated image — one that showed Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe against a silhouetted Chief Black Hawk, one of Thorpe’s ancestors.

Instead the CFA backs an image endorsed by Thorpe’s sons that shows an image of their father in the background with smaller images of his as an Olympic runner and a football player. 

It contains the inscription JIM THORPE around the top border and BRIGHT PATH on two lines in the field. The CFA recommended replacing BRIGHT PATH with WA-THO-HUK, Thorpe's Native American name that translates in English to "Bright Path."

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