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The highest-ranking Native American in the U.S. Army during the Civil War will be honored on the tails side of the 2022 $1 coin. The coin will be available to collectors in bags, boxes, and rolls on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

Ely S. Parker, Tonawanda Seneca, penned the formal surrender documents on April 9, 1865, for the end of the Civil War at Appomattox, Virginia, according to the U.S. Mint.

Lt. Col. Parker studied to become a lawyer but was unable to take the bar exam because he was not a citizen, according to New York state law at the time. Citizenship for Native Americans was not granted until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. He became an engineer and supervised government projects. He met and befriended Ulysses S. Grant while supervising government projects as an engineer.

Lt. Col. Parker served as adjutant to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and later rose to the rank of brevetted brigadier general. Brevet is an honorary promotion in the military. After the war, President Grant appointed him to serve as commissioner of Indian Affairs, the first Native American to hold that post, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The position is now called the director of the BIA after reorganization of the agency.

Ely S. Parker, Tonawanda Seneca (Photo by Mathew Brady, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration).

In the early days of the Civil War, Lt. Col. Parker had tried to form a regiment of Haudenosaunee volunteers but was turned away by New York’s governor. He was also unable to volunteer to join individually because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. As the need for troops grew, Native Americans were admitted to the military.

(Related: Design chosen for Wilma Mankiller coin)

History shows Lt. Col. Parker was present when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered in April 1865. Reportedly Gen. Lee mistook Lt. Col. Parker for a Black man, then apologized, saying "I am glad to see one real American here." Lt. Col. Parker is said to have responded, "We are all Americans, sir."

Before the war, Lt. Col. Parker had worked as an interpreter and diplomat as the Seneca chiefs negotiated land and treaty rights. In 1852, he was made a Seneca sachem, or chief.

Lt. Col. Parker was born in 1825 on the Tonawanda Reservation in western New York and died in 1895.

The 2022 coin shows an engraved image of Lt. Col. Parker with a quill pen, a book, and a copy of his signature. It’s also inscribed with his tribe, “Tonawanda Seneca,” and his birth name, “Ha-Sa-No-An-Da.”

Like the other coins in the Native American series, the heads side of the coin shows an image of Sacajawea, the Shoshone guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with her infant son. Another included the $10 coin of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower, according to the U.S. Mint.

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