May 20, 2010

Replace Jackson on $20 bill?

Students seek to put Chief Joseph on $20 bill

By Kristen CatesStudents at Hays-Lodgepole High School are doing their part to promote using more images of Native Americans on items printed by the federal government—most notably the $20 bill.

Sandra Sather-Westley, a reading and literacy teacher at the high school, encouraged her students to research and write about the controversy that for years has surrounded having an image of President Andrew Jackson's face on the $20 bill. She also asked the students to come up with a better person to be represented.
And:The result of the students' research and writing is a petition that they are sending out to every Native American agency, legislator and state official they could think of, seeking to have Chief Joseph, the legendary leader of the Nez Perce, replace Jackson on the $20 bill.

Sather-Westley said this isn't necessarily a new idea. Over the years, people campaigned for President Ronald Reagan and civil-rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be placed on the $20 bill.
And:Chief Joseph wasn't the only name tossed in the hat. Students researched Native American leaders such as Geronimo and Sacagawea—a dollar coin already features her image—but came to the consensus that Chief Joseph was the best choice.

"He was more comfortable to whites and spoke about peace," Sather-Westley said. "There's really quite an undercurrent. We don't feel that Andrew Jackson is representative of the best."
Comment:  My Native contacts occasionally express disgust at the idea of having Jackson on their money. I'd say it's time to stop celebrating his expansion of America at the expense of the Indians.

Chief Joseph seems like a good, safe choice to replace him. Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and Tecumseh would be too radical for today's Americans.

For more on the subject, see Replace Grant on $50 Bill? and Review of RELENTLESS PURSUIT.

Below:  Out with the Indian hater...

and in with the peacemaker?


dmarks said...

Chief Joseph also has that excellent, accurate, and iconic photo. For others like Tecumseh, there's only artwork, and that might open the door to controversial portrayals.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rob, sorry to post an unrelated comment, but it seemed the easiest and best way to contact you.

I've been reading both your good points and your crazy rants (sometimes in the same post) for about 6 months now and they're always enjoyable in one way or another.

I was in the toy aisle with my daughter the other day and I started to notice something that I thought you might have thoughts on. I noticed that whenever Disney puts out a product or a series that features multiple "Disney Princesses" Pocahontas is always left out. Every other human Disney Princess from one of their Summer blockbuster animated musicals is featured, but not her.

On the one hand I imagine that as the archetype of the "Indian Princess" stereotype I'm sure less exposure of Pocahontas in general is just fine with you.

On the other hand, she's a Disney Princess damn it!

Sara said...

Chief Joseph is very regal, and would be a huge improvement over Jackson, but I think Black Elk would be better. Although, I am not convinced that either of them would be thrilled to be on U.S. currency...

dmarks said...

Sara: Good point. I was also wondering what any of them would have thought of it.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I have a $20 bill, I usually break it down to $10 or less. I never really carry a $20 bill on my wallet. Jackson represents a hatemonger, and in the eyes of Natives, he is reminscent to the KKK. Chief Joseph seems like a wise choice.


dmarks said...

Geno; Do you break down the $20 for convenience sake, or out of despite for AJ?

Anonymous said...

Most of the time I would break it down for "convenience sake", but in reality, I don't even worry about about it. Its just money that isn't stay in your wallet forever.


Anonymous said...

Chief Joseph would work pretty well. Black Elk would imply the "All Indians are Sioux." thing that we should try to avoid. So would Red Cloud, though Red Cloud was a peacemaker. (A bit controversial though: He was involved in an attempt to assassinate Crazy Horse.)

Speaking of which, I have little doubt the one most people would choose for an Indian on currency is Churchill's "photo of Crazy Horse" that isn't him.

As for Pocahontas, she wasn't a princess. But neither was Mulan (general, yes; princess, no). Disney still calls them princesses.