2017 Native American $1 Coin

Background

The 2017 Native American $1 Coin commemorates Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee Syllabary.

Introduction

Sequoyah adapted writing to the Cherokee language by devising symbols for each syllable. His achievement is one of a handful of examples in world history regarding the development of an original writing system. After 12 years of work, Sequoyah unveiled the alphabet in a demonstration with his daughter Ah-yo-ka. News spread quickly and Cherokees flocked to learn the system. In 1821, the Cherokee Nation adopted it as its own. Within months, thousands of Cherokee became literate.

Contribution

The Cherokee Syllabary gave birth to Native American journalism. The first American Indian newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, included editorials which embodied the Cherokees’ determination to retain their lands, news on activities of the Cherokee government, as well as relations with the federal and state governments. This written language helped create a dialogue between Cherokee Nation and the United States Government, and assisted in the preservation of interests, hopes and struggles of individuals during a unique time in our history.

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Coin Characteristics

The obverse design retains the central figure of the “Sacagawea” design first produced in 2000.

The reverse design features a profile of Sequoyah writing “Sequoyah from Cherokee Nation” in syllabary along the border of the design.

Obverse Inscriptions

  • LIBERTY
  • IN GOD WE TRUST

Reverse Inscriptions

  • UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
  • $1
  • Sequoyah

Mint and Mint Mark

Artist Information

Obverse
  • Designer: Glenna Goodacre
Reverse
  • Sculptor: Charles L. Vickers
  • Designer: Chris Costello, Artistic Infusion Program
Content last reviewed January 12, 2017

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