The United States Mint has announced the design selections for the 2015 and 2016 Native American Dollars. These coins will continue the series featuring annually rotating reverse designs which celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Native Americans.
Originally, the Mint had prepared 20 design candidates for 2015 and 18 design candidates for 2016, which were reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) in March 2014. Coverage of the reviews and recommendations of the groups can be found here, here, and here. Within the design review process, additional reviews and recommendations were made by the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the House of Representatives, and the National Congress of American Indians. After weighing the input and recommendations from the various groups, the Secretary of the Treasury made the final design selections.
The 2015 Native American Dollar will honor the Mohawk Iron Workers as builders of New York City and other skylines from 1886. They had worked on prominent landmarks within New York City such as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the George Washington Bridge, and the World Trade Center. They had a reputation as top notch workers on high steel who did not fear heights or dangerous conditions.
The selected design depicts a Mohawk Iron Worker reaching from an I-beam as it swings into position. The city skyline appears in the background with the curvature of the Earth providing a sense of the great height. There are two rivets incorporated into the border of the design. Inscriptions include “United States of America”, the denomination “$1”, and “Mohawk Iron Workers”. The reverse was designed by Ronald D. Sanders and will be sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.
Although the CCAC had showed support for the selected design, they had ultimately recommended a different design featuring a Mohawk iron worker waking across an I-beam against a stylized city skyline. The CFA had also recommended the same design. Likely, there was some support for the selected design from some of the other groups included in the selection process.
The 2016 Native American Dollar will recognize the contributions of the Native American Code Talkers of World War I and World War II. The Code Talkers had served in the United States Armed forces and used tribal languages as a basis for secret communication which proved unbreakable to enemy forces. Code Talkers from individual tribes have been honored through an extensive series of Congressional Gold Medals launched last year.
The selected design includes two helmets against two feathers arranged to form a “V” to symbolize victory, unity, and the important role that the Code Talkers played. Rather than the dates shown on the candidate design above, the final design will include the inscriptions “WWI” and “WWII” with “Code Talkers” at the base and “United States of America” and “$1” above. The reverse was designed by Thomas D. Rogers Sr. and the sculptor will be selected at a later date.
Both the CCAC and CFA had recommended the selected design. They each had suggested replacing the dates with “WWI” and “WWII”.
Following the format of the series since 2009, the obverse design of each coin will feature the depiction of Sacagawea and child designed by Glenna Goodacre. Incuse edge inscriptions will include the date, mint mark, and motto “E Pluribus Unum”.