Seven proposed designs for the 2023 Native American $1 coin were reviewed this week by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). Each features Maria Tallchief, the country’s first prima ballerina.
Introduced in 2009 and authorized under Public Law 110-82, the United States Mint’s Native American dollar series features annually changing reverses (tails) that honor the significant contributions made by Indian tribes and Native Americans individuals to the history and development of the United States. .
The obverse (head side) of the dollar set is common, sharing the portrait of Glenna Goodacre of Sacagawea carrying her infant son, Jean-Baptiste.
2023 design theme change
The themed design for 2023 celebrates American Indians in ballet, focusing on prima ballerina Maria Tallchief (Osage surname: Ki He Kah Stah Tsa.) This represents a change from the intent previously announced by the Mint to honor Charles Alexander Eastman, a Santee Dakota physician, writer, speaker, and Native American rights activist.
Tallchief will also be honored on one of the five 2023 U.S. Women’s Quarter Dollars, providing the opportunity to combine the two pieces in products and marketing campaigns.
The CASC and CFA recommended the same design, reverse No. 4, which depicts five representative figures of Native American ballerinas with Tallchief in the foreground. The design is also preferred by Elise Paschen, Tallchief’s daughter. The Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for making the final selection.
Candidate designs for the 2023 Native American $1 coins
US Mint descriptions and images of the seven candidate models follow.
Maria Tallchief: American Indians in Ballet
A spectacular performance in Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird in 1949 made prima ballerina Maria Tallchief (Osage, 1925-2013) a superstar. Tallchief and her husband George Balanchine transformed American classical ballet into an international leader in the art form.
In addition to Maria Tallchief, four other Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma achieved international recognition in the 20th century, including Maria’s younger sister, Marjorie Tallchief Skibine (Osage, 1926-2021), Myra Yvonne Chouteau (Shawnee, 1929-2016 ), Rosella Hightower (Choctaw, 1920-2008) and Moscelyne Larkin (Shawnee-Peoria/Russian, 1925-2012). Celebrated as the “Five Moons” in murals, dance and sculpture, together they have inspired generations of Native American dancers and helped break down barriers in the world of dance for other people of color.
All of the following candidate designs feature a depiction of Maria Tallchief’s dance and the inscriptions “American Indians in Ballet”, “United States of America”, and “$1”.
NA$1-01 and NA$1-01A includes the addition of five-pointed stars, a reference to Tallchief and his Native American ballet contemporaries. The constellation of stars in NA$1-01A is a reference to Osage’s creation stories and the stage sets used in some of Tallchief’s performances.
NA$1-02 and NA$1-02A have the additional inscription “Maria Tallchief”.
NA$1-03 and NA$1-04 feature five representative figures of Native American ballerinas, with Maria Tallchief in the foreground. NA$1-04 includes the additional inscription “Maria Tallchief”.
NA$1-05 features a close-up depiction of Maria Tallchief and a pair of ballerinas, both framed by the ballerina’s ribbons. The inscription “Maria Tallchief” is also included.