Monday, September 10, 2007

Honoring Native American Contributions to U.S. History

The following is a U.S. Senate press release from last week:

The U.S. Congress has approved a bill championed by U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) to honor the contributions of Native Americans to U.S. history. The House of Representatives passed the bill Tuesday, which was previously approved by the Senate in July. Dorgan, chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, sponsored a similar companion bill in the Senate.

This legislation, known as the Native American $1 Coin Act of 2007, H.R. 2358, would issue a coin each year with a new design honoring a different Native American individual or contribution, while keeping the image of Sakakawea, who is currently on the dollar coin, on the front of the coin.

“Sakakawea, who helped guide Lewis and Clark on their expedition through the American West, is the only Native American currently on a U.S. coin, and this bill will improve the design, marketing and distribution of the current dollar coin,” said Dorgan. “We are now one step closer to issuing these special Native American coins to pay tribute to the first Americans.”
The bill was introduced by Congressman Dale E. Kildee (D-MI), co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus, in the House of Representatives.

“This bill will honor the strength and wisdom of Indian country by authorizing the Secretary of Treasury to mint and issue coins that commemorate the outstanding contributions of Native Americans,” said Congressman Dale E. Kildee. “The designs of this coin will take the American people through a journey of the different experiences of Native peoples by exposing them to their unique histories while preserving the memory of Sacagawea.”

The legislation would amend the Presidential $1 Coin Act to issue a new coin design each year beginning in 2009 for the duration of the Presidential $1 Coin Act. The bill would improve the circulation and marketing of the current Sakakawea dollar coin. Each coin’s new image honoring a Native American individual or contribution would be chosen by the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the Congressional Native American Caucus and the National Congress of American Indians.

The bill now goes to President Bush for his approval.