What is Labor Day?
Labor Day, celebrated the first Monday in September, honors the social and economic achievements of American workers. The United States Mint celebrates Labor Day by acknowledging laborers across the country, throughout history, and within its own organization.
From exploring jobs at the United States Mint to learning about the proud tradition of the Mohawk Ironworkers, celebrate Labor Day with these free lesson plans and resources below.
The 2015 Native American $1 Coin commemorates the contributions of the Kahnawake Mohawk and Mohawk Akwesasne communities to “high iron” construction work and the building of New York City skyscrapers.
Interesting facts about the 2015 Native American $1 Coin:
- The tradition of Mohawk high iron working dates to 1886, when the Dominion Bridge Company started a bridge from the Kahnawake Mohawk community across the St. Lawrence River. At one point, one in four men at Akwesasne worked in high-rise construction.
- Native ironworkers were in increasing demand in the 20th century as skyscrapers, tall bridges and other high elevation projects began to go up around North America. Crews from Kahnawake and the Mohawk Akwesasne communities in upstate New York and Canada made the trek to New York City to build its skyline, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and work above the 80th floor on the World Trade Center twin towers.
- The tradition entered a new and poignant phase after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, witnessed at close hand by a Mohawk construction crew on a nearby building. Dozens of Mohawk ironworkers volunteered for the dangerous job of removing debris from Ground Zero.
Games and Activities
Visit the Mint’s Games page for word searches, coloring pages, and other hands-on educational activities about coins.
From the Mohawk Ironworkers to national parks employees to those who built Mount Rushmore, examples of labor that shaped our nation is all around us. Teach your students about these workers with these themed lesson plans:
Courageous Builders (Grades K-1)
Students will define and give examples of courageousness. Students will describe the job of an ironworker and the related challenges.
Working the Land: Natural Occupations (Grades 4-6)
The students will research different jobs associated with the national parks and forests.
Working Diary (Grades 7-8)
Starting with the Mount Rushmore National Memorial quarter, students will research and evaluate the lives of the workers who created Mount Rushmore using primary and secondary resources.
Jobs at the Mint
From science to security to manufacturing, there are many careers at the Mint. Some of these jobs may even surprise you! Watch the video below to hear employees from Headquarters and West Point talk about their work with STEM.
To learn more about economics and industry, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics Publications and Special Studies page.