Native American $1 Coin for 2022 Will Feature Colonel Ely Parker

Ely S. Parker

Since 2009, the United States Mint has issued $1 coins as part of its Native American $1 coin program, a successor to the 2000-2008 Sacagawea Golden Dollar program. The Sacagawea coins honored the Shoshone Indian woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Those coins had a design with Sacagawea on the front and an eagle on the back. The Native American coin series still has Sacagawea on the front but features a different design each year on the reverse side. These designs honor various contributions made by Native Americans either individually or collectively. Colonel Ely Parker (1828-1895) will be honored on the reverse of the 2022 coin.

Born in New York, Parker was a member of the Tonawanda Seneca tribe. His Seneca birth name, Ha-Sa-No-An-Da is inscribed on the coin. Parker was a civil engineer who was assigned to Galena, Illinois in 1857 to supervise a government project. During his time there, Parker met and became acquainted with former U.S. Army officer Ulysses S. Grant, then working in his father’s leather goods business just prior to the Civil War.

Parker’s friendship with Grant came in handy when he tried to join the army as an engineer, only to be turned down due to his race. When he contacted Grant about this, the general obtained a commission for him as a captain of engineers in May of 1863. Eventually, Parker became Grant’s adjutant and later military secretary, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Parker helped draft the terms of surrender of Robert E. Lee’s army at Appomattox Court House in April 1865; the actual surrender documents were in Parker’s handwriting. The coin design is a rendition of Parker in his military uniform, writing out the surrender terms with a quill pen. After the war, Parker remained Grant’s military secretary until the latter’s retirement from the army in 1869. That same year, the now President Grant appointed Parker as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the first Native American to hold that position.

Grant’s Staff at City Point, VA, April 1865. Parker is second from right.

According to the U.S. Mint, the Native American $1 Coins are “circulating quality produced as collectibles, not for everyday transactions. However, they may be still used as legal tender”. They will be minted in both Denver and Philadelphia and will be available in rolls, bags, and boxes on February 9th, 2020.

Ely Parker Coin, United States Mint Image


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