US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Dec. 4, 2023: Well-deserving women

A proposed reverse design for the 2025 Native American dollar was recommended Nov. 16 by the Commission of Fine Arts.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Three news articles this week — our coverage of the 2024 Harriet Tubman Bicentennial  coinage first strike ceremony and the approval of designs for the 2025 Native American dollar recognizing Mary Kawena Pukui and the portrayal of Raye Jean Montague on a 2025 American Innovations dollar — illustrate how far this country’s coinage has come in honoring long-neglected segments of American society.

As Araminta ‘‘Minty’’ Ross, Tubman was born into slavery circa March 1822 on the plantation of Anthony Thompson in Dorchester County, Maryland. In the fall of 1849, she escaped from Poplar Neck in Caroline County, Maryland, with the help of the Underground Railroad network, heading north to freedom. With the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850, she continued to risk her life to rescue others from slavery, escorting her refugees to Canada.

During the American Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army. Tubman distinguished herself as the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the Civil War, the Combahee River Raid in 1863.

As the first Native Hawaiian to be honored on a Native American dollar, Pukui becomes the latest person recognized in the series. Her translations, compositions, and ethnographic work have sustained the Hawaiian language and culture for generations. Through her extensive career at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Pukui produced more than 52 published titles, 150 songs and chants, and countless other authoritative written works that shared aspects of the Hawaiian language and culture with the broader public.

She co-authored one of the most comprehensive Hawaiian dictionaries to date, as well as a collection of 2,941 Hawaiian proverbs and sayings, which continues to be a popular text.

Raye Jean Montague, to appear on the 2025 American Innovations dollar for Arkansas, was an American naval engineer and innovator of computer-aided design of naval ships. She is credited with the first computer-generated rough draft of a naval ship — specifically a United States Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate.

All Americans should celebrate the news that these talented women of color are joining the legions of Americans honored on our coinage.

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