November 27, 2012

2013 Sacagawea dollar reverse unveiled

2013 Native American $1 Dollar Design Image

By Darrin Lee UnserA new reverse design for the 2013 Native American $1 coin was unveiled by the United States Mint last week. The dollar design represents the theme of "The Delaware Treaty (1778)."

Expected to debut early next year on new $1 coins, the design marks the fifth in a series of annually changing reverses to appear on Native American coinage. Congress mandated rotating dollar designs with the passage of the Native American $1 Coin Act.
And:2013 Native American dollars feature a reverse design that is emblematic of the Delaware Treaty of 1778. After having declared independence just a few years before, the first formal treaty signed in the name of the United States was with an Indian tribe, the Delaware, at Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh) on September 17, 1778.

To signify that treaty, the dollar design shows images of a turkey, howling wolf and turtle. These three creatures are symbols of the clans of the Delaware Tribe. A string of thirteen stars surround the design representing the thirteen original colonies.

Comment:  On the positive side, the design itself looks nice. I don't have any artistic complaints about it.

But I wonder if the Delaware Treaty of 1778 is worth commemorating. I think the British signed treaties with the Indians before the Revolution, so it wasn't literally the first treaty.

It was the first United States treaty, but other than that, I'm not sure it's historically important. In the articles I read, no one ever mentions it.

And I question the use of three animals to depict the event. We're talking about Delaware leaders using their rhetorical skills and intellectual prowess to negotiate a legal document. And the best we can do to represent this act of statesmanship is a menagerie? Doesn't this convey the impression that Indians are animal-like?

How about this? If you can't think of a sophisticated way to portray a Native event, don't portray it. In particular, don't use clichéd eagle, wolf, hawk, or bear symbols. Especially with such a tenuous connection to the event.

In notational form:

Delaware signed treaty => Delaware have clans => Clans based on animals => Pictures of animals


Delaware signed treaty => Pictures of animals?

I don't consider that a great chain of reasoning. It's like saying:

Lincoln wrote and delivered the Gettysburg Address => Lincoln was known as a rail-splitter => Picture of a log.

Is a piece of wood the best representation of Lincoln's rhetorical achievement? No? The same applies to clan animals and a historic treaty signing.

For more on the subject, see 2012 Sacagawea Dollar Reverse Unveiled and 2011 Sacagawea Dollar Reverse Unveiled.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

And coincidentally, the Michigan state government this past week declared the wolf a game species, over the objections of the state's Native nations. The main guy pushing this (and yes, Rob, he's a Republican) said that because Natives are minority, their views should be ignored.