On Friday, the US Mint announced the design selection for the 2012 Native American Dollar. The theme for the design is “Trade Routes in the 17th Century”. This will represent the fourth in a series of annually rotating reverse designs which highlight the contributions and accomplishments of Native Americans.
The reverse design features a Native American and a horse in profile. There are horses running in the background, which are intended to represent the historical spread of the horse. Inscriptions read “United States of America” and “$1”. The reverse was designed by Thomas Cleveland and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.
The obverse of the coin will continue to feature the portrait of Sacagawea and child designed by Glenna Goodacre. Inscriptions include “Liberty” and “In God We Trust”. On the edge of the coin are the date, mint mark, and “E Pluribus Unum”.
Originally, the US Mint had prepared thirteen different design candidates for the reverse of the coin. These included seven designs that were traditional depictions and six that were based on the ledger style of Native American art. Both the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee had praised the inclusion of the ledger art designs, however ultimately both lent their official recommendation to the same traditional depiction that was ultimately selected.
The CFA had recommended some simplification to the design, suggesting the removal of the three running horses in the background. They also recommended moving the “$1” inscription closer to the rim of the coin, in the same circumferential zone as the other text. The US Mint did not follow either of these recommendations.
By law, Native American Dollars must account for at least 20% of all $1 coins minted and issued for each year. However, there is no legal requirement for the special ordering period from Federal Reserve Banks, as mandated for the Presidential Dollars series. As a result, the US Mint has primarily distributed Native American Dollars through the Direct Ship Program. With the removal of credit card ordering and the new $12.50 fulfillment fee for the program, the US Mint might run into problems distributing the entire required production of the 2012 Native American Dollars. We will have to wait and see this situation plays out in the coming year.