Extraordinary women who have revolutionized their fields have graced U.S. currency over the last couple of years. Figures like astronaut Sally Ride and poet Maya Angelou have been featured as part of the American Women Quarters Program. And now, a celebrated group of ballerinas will appear on the 2023 Native American $1 coin. Designed to honor “American Indians in Ballet,” the design shows Maria Tallchief in a balletic pose.
This coin pays tribute to the “Five Moons,” a golden generation of dancers from Oklahoma who performed in renowned ballet companies around the world before founding their own dancing groups or joining world-class institutions as artistic directors. Tallchief, from the Osage Nation, was widely regarded as America’s first major prima ballerina. Her, along with sister Marjorie Tallchief, Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, and Moscelyne Larkin, achieved international stardom during the 20th century.
Designed by Artistic Infusion Program Designer Ben Sowards and sculpted by U.S. Mint Medallic Artist Phebe Hemphill, the coin presents the dancers in front of a lunar motif as a nod to the “Five Moons” name, and aims to represent not only these ballerinas, but also the generations of dancers they inspired throughout the years. “Their legacy of achievement and inclusion continues to influence ballet today,” writes the U.S. Mint. The obverse design will keep the well-known figure of Sacagawea carrying her son.
While these coins are produced as collectibles and will not be put into general circulation, they can still be used as legal tender. For those hoping to bump into Tallchief's likeness when they get their change back, this isn't the only time the ballerina will be featured in U.S. currency. The U.S. Mint has announced that Tallchief will appear as the 10th coin in the American Women Quarters Program, too, which will be issued in 2023.
The U.S. Mint has designed a $1 coin that honors “American Indians in Ballet” and features Maria Tallchief—widely regarded as America’s first major prima ballerina—in a balletic pose.
This coin pays tribute to the “Five Moons,” a golden generation of dancers from Oklahoma who performed in renowned ballet companies around the world.