The United States Mint announced the reverse design for the 2023 Native American $1 Coin. The 2023 Native American $1 Coin honors American ballerina Maria Tallchief and American Indians in ballet. Considered to be America’s first prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief broke barriers as a Native American ballerina (Osage Nation) exhibiting strength and resilience both on and off the stage. In addition to Tallchief, four other American Indian ballerinas from Oklahoma achieved international recognition in the 20th century, including her younger sister Marjorie Tallchief, Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, and Moscelyne Larkin. Celebrated as the “Five Moons,” their legacy of achievement and inclusion continues to influence ballet today.
Designed by Artistic Infusion Program Designer Ben Sowards and sculpted by United States Mint Medallic Artist Phebe Hemphill, the reverse (tails) design features Maria Tallchief in balletic pose. A nod to the “Five Moons” is presented in the lunar motif, while the four ballerinas in the background are symbolic of both Tallchief’s American Indian ballerina contemporaries and the generations of dancers they inspired. Inscriptions include “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “MARIA TALLCHIEF,” “$1,” and “AMERICAN INDIANS IN BALLET.”
The obverse (heads) of the 2023 Native American $1 Coin will continue to feature the central figure “Sacagawea” carrying her infant son, Jean Baptiste, by sculptor Glenna Goodacre. Inscriptions are “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST.” The year, mint mark, and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” are incused on the edge of the coin.
The Native American $1 Coin Program is authorized by the Public Law 110-82 to recognize the important contributions made by Native American tribes and individual Native Americans to the history and development of the United States. The public law mandates that a reverse design, with an image emblematic of one important Native American or Native American contribution, be issued at a rate of once a year.
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Dennis Tucker remembers Glenna Goodacre, who designed the obverse of this coin.