Sacajawea Golden Dollar

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
The Sacagawea Golden Dollar
The first new coin of the millennium

Source: The U.S. Mint

Sacagawea Golden Dollar
The Sacagawea Golden Dollar coins debuted in January 2000. The new dollar coin replaced the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) dollar coin, which had circulated since 1979. Because demand had increased for a dollar coin in commerce, the government's supply of SBA dollars was nearly exhausted, creating a need for a new dollar coin that would be easily distinguishable from other change.

Ever wanted to know where the dollar sign originated?
The United States Dollar Coin Act of 1997 required the Treasury Department to place into circulation a new dollar coin similar in size to the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, golden in color with a distinctive edge. The law required the Treasury Secretary, in consultation with Congress, to select the designs for both sides of the new coin, although the design on the tails (reverse) side is required under the statute to depict an eagle.

Is It Really Gold?

Both the Golden Dollar and the SBA are clad coins, sharing a three-layer composite construction, with a pure copper core sandwiched between and metallurgically bonded to the outer layers of alloy material. The overall composition of the new Golden Dollar is 88.5% copper, 6.0% zinc, 3.5 % manganese, and 2.0% nickel. The coin's composite construction provides security features that allow machines to distinguish it from slugs, tokens, and foreign coins.

Image of Sen. Ben Campbel w/ Philip Diehl and Glenna Goodacre Holding New Sacagawea Dollar Coin
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and U.S. Mint director Philip Diehl with artist Glenna Goodacre, designer of the coin's image of Sacagawea.
Who Was Sacagawea?

Sacagawea was the Shoshone Indian who assisted the historic Lewis and Clark expedition. Between 1804-1806, while still a teenager, she guided the adventurers from the Northern Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean and back. Her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, and their son who was born during the trip, Jean Baptiste, also accompanied the group.

Without Sacagawea's navigational, diplomatic, and translating skills, the famous Lewis and Clark expedition would have perished. For one, she helped Lewis and Clark obtain the horses they needed to continue their journey.

Famous U.S. Women Considered for the Coin:

More American Indian Heritage features

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