Today the U.S. Mint released the final design choice for the reverse of the 2017 Native American dollar. The coin will honor Cherokee scholar and statesman Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee language.
Sequoyah (English name George Gist) was born around 1776 in a region called Tuskegee, in what is now Monroe County, Tennessee. His mother, Wut-Teh, was a Cherokee; his father, Nathaniel Gist, was a Virginia fur trader. Sequoyah was among the Cherokees who joined General Andrew Jackson to fight the British and the Creek Indians in the War of 1812. Although Sequoyah could neither read nor write English, he understood the value of a written language, and after the war he began to devise a writing system for his people.
The result was a syllabary—symbols that represent the basic syllables that are used, in various combinations, to form a language. Sequoyah worked for 12 years to distill the concepts and sounds of the spoken Cherokee language into an 85-character syllabary. When he considered it finished, in 1821, he and his daughter, Ayoka, introduced it to the Cherokee people. Within a few months, thousands of Cherokees had learned this written language, which naturally brought many new opportunities. In addition to being able to compose written messages and send letters, the Cherokees published religious works, a newspaper, legal documents, and so on. The syllabary remains in use today; in the 1970s, IBM produced a typewriter ball with the characters, and in 2010, a keyboard cover was introduced so students who matriculate in Cherokee can type in the language.
The reverse of the 2017 Native American dollar was designed by Mint Artistic Infusion Program designer Chris Costello, and sculpted by Mint sculptor-engraver Charles L. Vickers. At the left side of the central motif is the scholar and statesman Sequoyah in profile to the right, writing “Sequoyah from Cherokee Nation” in the Cherokee syllabary. The design is arranged such that his feather quill is simultaneously writing on paper, as part of the central design, and around the border of the field, as part of the legend. In the field to the right is the word Sequoyah; at lower left is the denomination, $1; and, reading clockwise from the left, UNITED STATES of AMERICA, a seven-pointed star, and Sequoyah’s written words.
The obverse of the 2017 Native American $1 Coin will continue to feature sculptor Glenna Goodacre’s familiar “Sacagawea” design, introduced in 2000. Inscriptions are LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST. The year, mintmark, and E PLURIBUS UNUM are incused on the coin’s edge.
Authorized by the Public Law 110-82, the Native American $1 Coin Program celebrates 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 a new reverse design each year celebrating the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the development and history of the United States.
Other Mint News
In a separate press release, the Mint announced that the first-day sales figure of the Burnished American Silver Eagle coin, issued yesterday at noon, was 126,902.
In addition, the Mint’s stock of Theodore Roosevelt National Park 2016 Uncirculated 5-ounce silver coin was fully sold yesterday, and the Mint has marked it “sold out.” The Cumberland Gap 5-ounce coin may soon follow; as of 3:30 p.m. on December 2, 79 units were still available. The Shawnee National Forest issue has been sold out for some time. As of November 27, the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park 5-ounce Uncirculated coins were reported to have sold 17,807 units; although more than 100 units are still available, the total number sold—17,928—is approaching the final sales figures of its counterparts, which finished between 18,500 and 18,800.
The Fort Moultrie (Fort Sumter National Monument) 5-ounce Uncirculated coins go on sale December 8 at noon. The corresponding quarter-dollar three-coin sets will be available December 5. The 2016 Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set will be available December 14, and will conclude the Mint’s product offerings for the year. ❑