New Coins We Can Expect to See in 2019

While nothing can ever replace some of the classic U.S. coinage it is always exciting as a collector to see what new coins are being designed. From commemorative coins to new circulating coinage, here is a list of coins we are excited for in 2019!

American Eagle 2019 Silver Proof Coin

This design never gets old and who doesn’t love a silver coin?

The obverse features Adolph A. Weinman’s full-length figure of Liberty in full stride, enveloped in folds of the flag, with her right hand extended and branches of laurel and oak in her left. The reverse features a heraldic eagle with shield, an olive branch in the right talon and arrows in the left.

Each coin bears the “W” mint mark reflecting its striking at the West Point Mint. This product will be available very soon, on January 10, 2019, at 12 noon (ET).

Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coins

The world eagerly watched on July 20, 1969, as Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin, Jr. took mankind’s first steps on the Moon. This unprecedented engineering, scientific, and political achievement was the culmination of the efforts of an estimated 400,000 Americans and secured our Nation’s leadership in space for generations to come. The Apollo 11 crew—Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins—safely returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, fulfilling the national goal set in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Nearly half a century later, the United States is the only country ever to have attempted and succeeded in landing humans on a celestial body other than Earth and safely returning them home.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon, Public Law 114-282 authorizes a four-coin program: a curved $5 gold coin, a curved $1 silver coin, a curved half-dollar clad coin, and a curved 5 ounce $1 silver proof coin.

These coins will be available on January 24, 2019, at 12 noon (ET).

Native American $1 2019 Coin

The theme of the 2019 Native American $1 Coin design is American Indians in the Space Program. Native Americans have been on the modern frontier of space flight since the beginning of NASA. Their contributions to the U.S. space program culminated in the space walks of John Herrington (Chickasaw Nation) on the International Space Station in 2002. This and other pioneering achievements date back to the work of Mary Golda Ross (Cherokee Nation). Considered the first Native American engineer in the U.S. space program, Ross helped develop the Agena spacecraft for the Gemini and Apollo space programs.

The obverse design features the “Sacagawea” design first produced in 2000.

The reverse design features Mary Golda Ross writing calculations. In the background, an Atlas-Agena rocket launches into space, with an equation inscribed in its cloud. The equation, denoting the energy it takes to leave Earth and reach the orbit of a distant planet, represents her important contributions to the space program. An astronaut, symbolic of Native American astronauts, including John Herrington, conducts a spacewalk above. A group of stars in the field behind indicates outer space.

This coin is projected to be released sometime in February.

2019 America the Beautiful Quarters

The 2019 coins will represent the 46th through 50th coins from the U.S. Mint’s program of America the Beautiful Quarters®. The series calls for one quarter celebrating a site in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. A combined 56 sites will be honored by end of the program in 2021.

Release dates and the locations commemorated on the 2019-dated quarters are:

Feb. 4, 2019 – Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts.
April 1, 2019 – American Memorial Park in Northern Mariana Islands.
June 6, 2019 – War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam.
Aug. 26, 2019 – San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas.
Nov. 4, 2019 – Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.

Each of the 2019 quarters will begin their journey into general circulation on the above published dates, and all of them will be minted at the facilities in Denver and Philadelphia. The San Francisco Mint also produces quarters but only for specially packaged numismatic products.

The Grover Cleveland Peace Medal: a Symbol of Reconciliation

As we go through our grade school education, we learn about U.S. History, and then we get more US history in middle school, and high school, and then, if you were a history major like myself, you get to to take US History again in college.  Each time you learn a little more than the last, and are asked to remember more names and dates and events. And while more things may have been taught, Native American history seems to be mostly an afterthought unless you chose to pursue that specifically.  So from the story of the pilgrims, to The French and Indian War, the Trail of Tears, and Custer and Little Bighorn we overlook the story of the people that should be a more prominent part of our great history. When Tim pulled out another treasure from his stash, it allowed me to go just a little bit deeper into that specific part of our history.  

medal

The picture above shows us an 1885 Grover Cleveland Bronze Peace Medal. On the front, it reads “Grover Cleveland President across the top and U.S.A. 1885 on the bottom. On the reverse there is a depiction of a Native American man speaking to a white settle with “Peace” across the top and a calumet and a tomahawk crossed through an olive wreath on the bottom.  

Simply put, this medal was created early in Grover Cleveland’s Presidency as an apology and peace offering to the chiefs of native tribes because President Chester Arthur had allowed settlers to take nearly a half million acres of land from the Crow Creek Reservation in the Dakotas area.  To better understand the significance of this medal, you really need to know what was happening in the US at the time.

Chester_A._Arthur_by_Ole_Peter_Hansen_Balling

21st President, Chester A. Arthur

Chester Arthur was made the 21st president in September of 1881 after James Garfield had been assassinated.  The US was still dealing with the fallout of the Civil War and dealing with the rights of African Americans, and there was an upwelling of anti-immigrant sentiment.  There was an economic crisis in 1873 and Chinese Americans were blamed for depressing wages. And so in 1882, Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act into law, which prohibited further Chinese immigration and prevented current Chinese laborers from gaining citizenship.

Native American were treated similarly.  They were not considered or looked at as Americans.  They had to go through a naturalization process to be considered a citizen and be given the same rights and protections as others.  The philosophy that Arthur, Grover Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison after him felt best to deal with Native Americans was one of assimilation.  By treating them as a non citizen, the hope was they would want to become a US citizen to be protected and advance our culture.

In his first annual message to Congress in 1881 Arthur spoke specifically on American Indian Policy.  He realized it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with. He even admitted the shortcomings of how it had been dealt with already.  He saw the major shortcoming was dealing with the different tribes as different nationalities. He states, “For the success of the efforts now making to introduce among the Indians the customs and pursuits of civilized life and gradually to absorb them into the mass of our citizens, sharing their rights and holden to their responsibilities, there is imperative need for legislative action.”  And he outlined three steps to further that process. He wanted to give Native Americans the protection of the law, instead of each tribe abiding by their own laws. “In return for such considerate action on the part of the Government, there is reason to believe that the Indians in large numbers would be persuaded to sever their tribal relations and to engage at once in agricultural pursuits. Many of them realize the fact that their hunting days are over and that it is now for their best interests to conform their manner of life to the new order of things. By no greater inducement than the assurance of permanent title to the soil can they be led to engage in the occupation of tilling it.”  And the third step would be to invest considerable amounts of money into educating Native American children. If they were being educated by white settlers and interacting with white children, this would only quicken the process of assimilation. And while these three ideas seem like reasonable stances to take, they didn’t necessarily lead to great outcomes.

Although Arthur seemed to be in favor of land allotment, there were still many detractors to the idea.  As settlers continued to flood westward, they inevitably began to crowd the borders of some reservations or even settle on native land.  Opponents of allotment including Secretary of the interior Henry M. Teller, and vocal settlers and cattle ranchers argued that Native americans didn’t need as much land as they were given, and that they were still savages and guilty of atrocities.  This persuaded Arthur to allow settlers access to almost a half million acres of land in the Winnebago and Crow Creek Reservation areas of the Dakotas just 5 days before his presidency ended 1885.

GCleveland

22nd and 24th President, Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland was lobbied to look into this acquisition of land by the white settlers because they believed it was illegal.  In April of 1885 Cleveland issued a warning to all settlers who were involved and sent General Phil Sheridan to investigate what had actually happened.  Sheridan brought these Peace Medals to give to the various chiefs on the reservations, and offered apologies on behalf of the “Great White Father’s”. Apparently most chiefs were so impressed with the medals that they bored holes in them and would wear them on elaborate beaded necklaces.  And the investigation by Sheridan and Secretary of the Interior Lucius C. Lamar showed that this was not an isolated incident. Broken treaties, hostilities, and illegal land use were all uncovered. Cleveland gave the white settlers 40 days to clear off the land along with their cattle. This happened just before winter and its estimated that 80% of the cattle died as a result but Cleveland made sure the orders were enforced and that hostile encounters would not happen.  

But even though Cleveland helped the Native Americans in this instance and many others, it wasn’t indicative of his term as president overall.  He passed the Major Crimes Act of 1995 which made seven specific crimes for Native Americans on their reservation subject to US laws despite a Supreme Court ruling that found that jurisdiction over “Indian on Indian” crimes on a reservation were not subject to federal law.  He also signed the Dawes Act in 1887 which opened up Indian land into individual allotments but followed it up with the Indian Appropriations Act two years later. This allowed white settlers access to any “unassigned lands” that may have previously been a part of a reservation but wasn’t assigned to an individual.  Over years the effects of this were staggering. At the start of his term there were 260,000 Indians living on 171 reservations in 21 different states with a total of 134 million acres of land. By 1934, more than 90 million acres of that had been lost due to the Indian Appropriations Act and other polocies.

Benjamin Harrison, the next president, would use the Indian Appropriations Act to give away more land to white settlers, including the Oklahoma Land Rush.  This is where the current University of Oklahoma gets its mascot name, Boomer Sooner. Boomers were settlers campaigning for the land to be open up to white settlers, and sooners were the settlers that had already illegally settled the land.  He forced the Sioux nation into breaking up into separate reservations and giving up 11 million acres of land in doin go, and used the Act 17 times to give land to settlers in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Alaska.  He was president during the Wounded Knee Massacre but would take no responsibility for what had happened there either.

DSC_0012

DSC_0010The story of this peace medal, while itself small, is a part of a much greater history of our country.  While policy and actions didn’t always coincide with words, it at least represented in a shift in the way the US tried to deal with the Native Americans. President Arthur was willing to admit that previous administrations failed to address the situation in an acceptable manner and even if his strategy of assimilation had unintended results, just the idea of giving a “peace” medal and taking a conciliatory stance to the issue and forcing out the white settlers if only temporarily, was a significant departure from earlier encounters between the US various native tribes.  

Who is the Native American on the Buffalo Nickel?

Minted from 1913 to 1938, the Buffalo nickel (also called the Indian Head Nickel) was designed to be a truly American coin, one that could not be mistaken for belonging to any other country. The reverse features a profile view of the American Buffalo. The model for the buffalo was a bull named Black Diamond, who resided at the Central Park Zoo in New York City. On the obverse of the coin is the right facing, profile view of a Native American warrior with braided hair and a ribbon. While no doubt an image that represents the history of America, who was the man used as the model for this coin?

By 1935_Indian_Head_Buffalo_Nickel.jpg:Bobby131313 at en.wikipedia derivative work: Wehwalt (1935_Indian_Head_Buffalo_Nickel.jpg) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

The coins were first put into circulation on February 22, 1913 at a groundbreaking ceremony for the National American Indian Memorial that was slated to be built on Staten Island in New York. After dismal fund raising efforts led by well known retailer Rodman Wanamaker, the project was soon scraped and the memorial was never built.

Shortly after the coin’s release, both coin enthusiasts and the general public began speculating about the identity of the Native American man featured on this coin. Over the years, several names have circulated and a few have even taken credit for being the man on this iconic coin. Here are several theories:

Creator of the design, James Earle Fraser, a well known sculptor, wrote to the mint in 1913 stating that he had done several portraits of Native Americans in his time, including Chief Iron Tail, a Sioux, and Chief Two Moons, a Cheyenne. He called Iron Tail “the best Indian head I can remember”, but stated that his purpose was to make a type, not a portrait. Iron tail spent many years traveling with the Wild West Show, claiming to be the the model for the coin. Over the years, Fraser also named several other Native Americans that he said served as inspiration.

Chief_Iron_Tail,_Informal,_Profile

Chief Iron Tail

{History} Noord-Amerikaanse Indianen // Native North-American Indians

{History} Noord-Amerikaanse Indianen // Native North-American Indians Chief Two Moons

Early on and up until 1931, Two Guns White Calf, of the Blackfoot tribe began claiming he was the model used for the coin. Although Fraser denied it, he did say that a great number of artists had used his “magnificent head” as a model for both sculptures and portraits.

By Snyder, Frank R. Flickr: Miami U. Libraries - Digital Collections [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

By Snyder, Frank R. Flickr: Miami U. Libraries – Digital Collections [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons Chief Two Guns White Calf

Perhaps the most famous and well known claimant, was an actor named John Big Tree, a Seneca. Although there were many inconsistencies in his story, he stood by his claim, even appearing on TV and various other public events as the “nickel Indian” until his death in 1967.

Chief John Big Tree

Whether a composite, or a portrait of a real person, there is no doubt that this coin is a very iconic piece of American history. Over 1.2 billion were minted between it’s debut in 1913 and its demise in 1938 (check back to find out why we used the word demise, in part two of our series on Buffalo nickels).  Although we may never know the real story of whose image was used, one thing is for sure:  The buffalo nickel itself saw a lot of use in its day, purchasing items such as a loaf of bread or a cup of coffee.  My how times have changed!

In Your Dreams

Originally a Native American beauty, the dreamcatcher has woven its way into bedrooms worldwide.  A delicate web set in willow hoop lures wandering consciousness while dreamers lie peacefully snoring; the concept is very attractive and has been adopted by extraneous cultures.  Like many Native American cultural traditions, the dreamcatcher has been misappropriated by non-native people.  Nonetheless, it is a valuable collectible today.

The legend of the dreamcatcher begins with Asibikaashi, the Spider Woman who once captured the morning sun for the Ojibwe people. In fulfillment of a prophecy, the Ojibwe people spread to the four corners of North America making the journey for Asibikaashi difficult and thus caring for her children and the land near impossible.  To carry on her wise undertaking, the Mothers, Sisters and Grandmothers began weaving magic webs for the children to protect them in the night and greet them with the morning sun each day.

According to Ojibwe legend, dreamcatchers filter out all bad dreams, only allowing the passage of positive thoughts to enter consciousness.  With the rising sun and evaporating of the morning dew, bad dreams confusedly caught in the web would perish while good ones would pass through the center hole, sliding down the feather to the sleeper.  The dreamcatcher possesses the great power to change and control dreams, regardless of the sleeper’s cognizance.

Dreamcatchers were woven of twigs, sinew and feathers since ancient times, utilizing the profound teachings of nature.  Thread from the stalk of stinging nettle compromised the eight points of the web, in respect for Asibikaashi and her eight legs.  Once the twigs were gathered fresh, they were left out to dry into a circle form.  The circle represents strength and unification of life for the Native American people.  Then sacred feathers, gemstones and bits of everyday life such as arrowheads and beads were given to each web to complete it’s spiritual function.

Not only beautiful arts and crafts, dreamcatchers carry a specific cultural heritage and act as a teacher of the natural world.  A feather set into the center teaches an infant the importance of good air, which is essential for life.  Even the slightest movement of the feather signals the passage of another good dream.  Their material is not created with permanence, to signify the precipitous passing of youth.  The care and meaning by which dreamcatchers are made is all part of their significance to the Ojibwe people.

Very specifically belonging to Ojibwe culture, it was not until the 1960’s or so that they were adopted by Native Americans of a number of diverse nations.  Through intermarriage and trade, the dreamcatcher made its way across an expanding America.  In this sense, they have become known by many as a symbol of unity and identity among Indian Nations.  Though creating positive connections among First Nations, many Native Americans view Western cultures’ hollow misunderstanding and manufacturing to be disrespectful and offensive.

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Of course in the history of America, respect for other cultures hasn’t always been at the top of an expansive priority list.  Dreamcatchers are sold today in abundance as cheap home decorations and as collectibles.  With tacky tag lines and denominating sales tags, some people have forgotten their value as objects of spiritual wisdom and art.  They have been widely commercialized as seen through the popularity of dreamcatcher tattoos and earrings.

On eBay, dreamcatchers are now manufactured from the Middle East to China, coming in a variety of shapes, styles and price tags.  Later Ojibwa dreamcatchers can even be found for sale.

Have you ever owned a dreamcatcher?  We’d love to hear your perspective in the comments below or on our social media!
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