The Sacagawea Dollar coin was created through
the United States $1 Coin Act of 1997.
purpose of the Act was to replace the Susan B. Anthony Dollar.
Even though the Anthony Dollar never gained wide circulation, increased
use of the coin by
mass transit systems and vending machines led to its projected
Faced with the prospect of minting additional quantities of an
unpopular coin to meet the demand, Congress authorized the U.S. Mint to
develop a new dollar coin with a gold color and distinctive edge, to
make it easy to identify.
On May 19, 1998, the Treasury department formed
the Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee (DCDAC) to select a design
for the new dollar coin.
Three weeks later, the DCDAC recommended that the new dollar coin bear
a design of Liberty represented by Sacagawea, the Native American woman
who assisted Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the American West
On May 4, 1999, the Mint unveiled the selected design for the Sacagawea
Dollar coin at a White House ceremony. Artist Glenna Goodacre portrayed
Sacagawea in three-quarter profile. On her back, she carried her infant
son Jean Baptiste. Six months pregnant when she joined the expedition,
Sacagawea gave birth to Jean Baptiste early in the journey. Thomas D.
Rogers designed the reverse, featuring a soaring eagle encircled by 17
stars, representing the number of states at the time Lewis and Clark
began their westward odyssey. The Sacagawea coin was released to
the public in January, 2000.
The selection of the Sacagawea Dollar coin was
not without controversy. Some questioned the Treasury's predicted
popularity of the design. The General Accounting Office (GAO) conducted a telephone survey in late 1998 to gauge
the public’s preference
for either Sacagawea or the Statue of Liberty as the image on the new
dollar coin. The GAO reported that 65 percent of the survey respondents
preferred the Statue of Liberty, and 27 percent preferred Sacagawea.
Another 2 percent said either choice was acceptable, about 3 percent
said neither was acceptable, and 3 percent said they had no opinion.
The Treasury Department dismissed the findings of the GAO over concern
that the survey was too narrow; only Americans with telephones were
contacted and all questions were asked in the English language.
Furthermore, Treasury defended their own outreach effort, saying it
sufficiently captured the public's views on the Sacagawea coin, but
provided no statistical evidence to show their results were applicable
to the adult population of the U.S. mainland.
The Model of Sacagawea
There is no known cotemporary portrait of Sacagawea, so artist
Glenna Goodacre asked Randy'L He-dow Teton of the Shoshone tribe to
model for the Sacagawea Dollar coin, first issued in 2000. Ms. Teton
toured the country extensively to promote the introduction of the new
golden dollar and as a motivational speaker to encourage Native
Image courtesy of US Mint.
Despite a $53 million promotional campaign by
the federal government,
the Sacagawea Dollar coin failed to catch on with the general
population. Mintage fell from 1.286 billion in the year 2000 to 7.6
million by 2002. The major culprit cited for the failure of the dollar
coin is the continued presence of the $1 paper bill. If the experience
of other nations that have successfully introduced a high-value coin
means anything, then the dollar note must be removed from circulation
for the dollar coin to have a chance.
In 2009, the Sacagawea Dollar began carrying a new reverse, in
accordance with the Native American $1 Coin Act. The
will change each year to commemorate contributions made by Indian
tribes and individual Native Americans to the United States.
The coins will be issued in somewhat chronological order of the events
or lives of the persons depicted on the reverse.
After the last of the presidential
dollar coins are issued, expected sometime just before the year
2020, the Native American $1 Coin Program will continue,
although reverse designs will be selected without regard to
There are no Sacagawea coin key dates. However, a die variety discovered in 2005 for
the 2000-P has collectors
searching through one Sacagawea Dollar coin roll after another. As part
of the initial public awareness blitz, the Mint partnered with General
Mills to insert 5500 of the new coins in randomly selected boxes of
Cheerios cereal in late 1999, giving the food giant enough time to get
them onto store shelves by early January. Sometime after the 5500
Sacagawea Dollars were sent to General Mills, but before more coins for
circulation were struck, the Mint altered the reverse die to correct a
manufacturing issue. In doing so, the amount of detail on the eagle's
tail feathers was slightly reduced. Thus, Sacagawea Dollars sent to the
Federal Reserve for widespread distribution in late January and beyond
all were of the second die variety.
Of all the Sacagawea Dollar coins minted in 2000, only 5500 of them, or
0.00043% of the overall total, were produced by the first die variety,
and all of them found their way into private hands through Cheerios
boxes. As of 2011, only a few sales of the "Cheerios Dollars" have been
recorded, but the selling price per coin has reached as high as $11,500. According to some of the
services, they've seen only a few dozen of the Cheerios Dollars, so
far. Whether or not these high prices hold firm in the future is
anyone's guess, but one thing is certain: Collectors seeking a Cheerios
Dollar example have an extraordinarily tiny supply from which to
Other than the Cheerios
Dollar, there hasn't been a great deal of numismatic interest
focused on the Sacagawea Dollar. This is not surprising, considering
that it is a fairly new coin available in huge quantities. Still,
judging by some of the selling prices of ultra-high grade examples in MS-68
or better, its clear that out of a enormous universe of Sacagawea
Dollar coins, not that many of them have been preserved in a near
perfection state. So, if you want to make this coin series your
specialty while hoping someday other collectors will pay a lot more for
what you're buying today, your best hope is to concentrate on coins
graded MS-68 or higher. Be careful, because there are lots of "alphabet
soup" grading companies out there slapping "MS-70" labels on every
other Sacagawea Dollar. Don't fall for it. You may have to spend
a little extra for coins graded by the services of PCGS, NGC, ICG, or
ANACS, but in return, you'll get the coins other collectors will pay
the most attention to.