Congress on Tuesday approved a redesign of the Sacagawea dollar in hopes of enticing consumer and business use of the gold-colored dollar.
Under legislation passed by voice vote in the House and sent to President Bush for his signature, new editions of the coin honoring the young Shoshone who helped Lewis and Clark on their trek to the Pacific Ocean more than 200 years ago will come out in 2009.
The new coins will continue to depict Sacagawea and her child, but they will feature scenes on the reverse side, changed annually, commemorating the achievements of other Native Americans and Indian tribes.
“These designs will take the American people to a journey of different experiences of native people by exposing them to their unique histories while preserving the memories of Sacagawea,” said Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., sponsor of the bill.
The Sacagawea dollar was first minted in 2000 to replace the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. But like its predecessor, it failed to win public acceptance and today is produced only for sale to collectors.
The U.S. Mint this year has produced about 7.5 million Sacagawea coins. By comparison, through July this year the Mint has made about 775 million of the new presidential $1 coins. Those coins depict U.S. presidents, starting with George Washington, with a new coin coming out every three months.
The bill requires that the newly designed Sacagawea coins comprise at least 20 percent of all $1 coins minted each year and instructs the Treasury Department to carry out an aggressive campaign to encourage commercial enterprises to accept and dispense the coins.
The designs will be decided by the secretary of the Treasury in consultation with Congress, the National Congress of American Indians, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
Among design suggestions are the Cherokee written language, the Iroquois Confederacy, the World War II codetalkers and Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe.
Currently, the reverse of the coin shows an eagle with 17 stars representing the states at the time of the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition.