2023 Native American $1 Coin Depicts Maria Tallchief

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 prominently features Maria Tallchief, the nation’s first prima ballerina.

Above are US Mint line art images of the seven 2023 Native American $1 Coin Candidate Designs. Each depicts Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina and celebrates American Indians in ballet.

Introduced in 2009 and authorized under Public Law 110-82, the US Mint’s series of Native American dollars features annually changing reverses (tails side) that honor the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the history and development of the United States .

2019-P Enhanced Uncirculated Native American $1 Coin - Obverse,bThis CoinNews photo shows the obverse of a Native American $1 Coin. This design is common across all coins in the series.

Obverses (heads side) of the dollar series are common, sharing Glenna Goodacre’s portrait 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 family name: Ki He Kah Stah Tsa.) This represents a change from the Mint’s previously announced intent of honoring Charles Alexander Eastman, a Santee Dakota physician, Writer, lecturer, and activist for Native American rights.

Tallchief will also be honored on one of the five 2023 American Women quarter dollars, providing opportunities to pair the two coins in products and in marketing campaigns.

Recommended design

The CCAC and CFA recommended the same design, reverse #4, which depicts five figures representative of Native American ballerinas with Tallchief in the foreground. The design is also preferred by Elise Paschen, Tallchief’s daughter. The Treasury Secretary is tasked with making the final selection.

Candidate design 04Candidate 04, the recommended design for the 2023 Native American $1 Coin

2023 Native American $1 Coin Candidate Designs

US Mint descriptions and images of all seven candidate designs follow.


Maria Tallchief: American Indians in Ballet

A spectacular performance in Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird in 1949 made a superstar of prima ballerina Maria Tallchief (Osage, 1925-2013). Tall chief 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 mural, dance, and sculpture, together they inspired generations of American Indian dancers and helped break barriers in the dance world for other people of color.

All of the following candidate designs feature a depiction of Maria Tallchief dancing and the inscriptions “American Indians in Ballet,” “United States of America,” and “$1.”

Candidate design 01Candidate design 01 Candidate Design 01ACandidate Design 01A

NA$1-01 other NA$1-01A includes the addition of five-pointed stars, a reference to Tallchief and her Native American ballet contemporaries. The constellation of stars in NA$1-01A is a reference to Osage creation stories and stage backdrops used in some of Tallchief’s performances.

Candidate design 02Candidate design 02 Candidate Design 02ACandidate Design 02A

NA$1-02 other NA$1-02A have the additional inscription “Maria Tallchief.”

Candidate design 03Candidate design 03 Candidate design 04candidate design

NA$1-03 other NA$1-04 feature five figures representative of Native American ballerinas, with Maria Tallchief in the foreground. NA$1-04 includes the additional inscription “Maria Tallchief.”

Candidate design 05Candidate design 05

NA$1-05 features a close-up depiction of Maria Tallchief and a pair of ballet shoes, both framed by the ballet shoe ribbons. The inscription “Maria Tallchief” is also included.

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