Sacajawea coin model celebrates 20 years

Indian Country Today

On Thursday's show we have the Sacajawea coin model Shoshone-Bannock citizen Randy'L Teton. Also on the show, Indian Country Today's Aliyah Chavez talks election results.

Twenty years ago, U.S. Mint released a $1 coin dedicated to Sacajawea.  On Thursday we sat down with Shoshone-Bannock citizen Randy'L Teton, the Sacajawea model on the coin.

Teton explained the different spellings of Sacajawea. This historic figure is spelled and pronounced differently by many tribes. For example, The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation spell her name with a "K." Sacajawea was Lemhi Shoshone and the tribe spell it with a "J" and when U.S. Mint made the coin, it split the difference and used a "G."

Indian Country Today's Reporter-Producer Aliyah Chavez is also on the newscast with some of the campaign trail stories she's been working on for more than a year.

Some quotes from Thursday's show

Randy'L Teton:

"Well, let me tell you, when I pursued going into higher education off my reservation, there was always that fear of, am I going to make it, you know, am I going to finish? And honestly, choosing a school in New Mexico was probably the best thing ever because it landed me the opportunity to meet wonderful people in New Mexico. I was going to University of New Mexico and I was reached out by a famous artist out of Santa Fe. Her name is Glenna Goodacre and rest in peace, she actually passed away earlier this year. But she reached out to me in search of a Shoshone girl to get a better sense of what Sacajawea, who she knew at that time was Shoshone from Idaho. And myself, I am Shoshone-Bannock from Fort Hall, Idaho. And you know, she reached out, she went to the nearby Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in downtown Santa Fe and happened to talk to my mother, who actually was a former museum director for my tribe, for our tribal museum. And in that conversation, she was able to learn a lot of things about Sacajawea."

"And if I can just take a step back, Glenna Goodacre was approached by the United States Mint for a project to replace the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. That was not doing so well in the public, people didn't really utilize it. So, there was a huge list of potential females that made an impact in United States history. And we're so thankful Sacajawea was chosen. And so this artist did not know anything about who Sacajawea was other than she traveled with Lewis and Clark."

"And when she had a conversation with my mother for about three hours, her last question was, is, do you have any daughters? My mother at that time took out her wallet that had all of our pictures in it, and immediately, the artist says I want her. And I happened to look pretty much the same that I do, kind of have that natural look, the long black hair. And my mom said, you know, you're lucky because she is going to school at University of New Mexico. So, I got a call. My mom said that this lady would like me to model. I agreed. I didn't really know what that meant. I didn't really understand at that time what the project was about. I went to Santa Fe, I spent a whole weekend with Glenna Goodacre understanding what this secret project is about."

"And I was just thankful to be part of this historical project, to be honest. I really did not know that my face would be on United States currency. I am labeled today as the youngest and only living model on the United States currency. And I have a story to share just with my journey, but also understanding who Sacajawea is as a Shoshone girl. I don't believe she was a woman yet when she traveled with Lewis and Clark. She was probably about 14 with her baby, a brand new baby. And if you can imagine being 14 with a brand new baby and having to take care of 20 plus men that you don't know, that was her situation. And honestly, I can't think of being in her moccasins of what she was thinking daily of being a young wife, a young mother, and being able to have this responsibility on her. But what I am glad about is that she was chosen to be on the new dollar coin. So you know, lots of good stuff here."

Aliyah Chavez:

"As of Thursday morning, there's a number of states who still haven't called which way they're leaning in terms of President Trump or a former Vice President Joe Biden. A number of those states, one being Nevada that has a big Native population. Another state being Arizona, which also I'm sure you're very familiar has a large chunk of people who are eligible to vote. So those are two states already that have large Native populations. Another one being Wisconsin. I know that there was a number of Native vote outreach programs there as well. So even as we're watching the presidential race, I think there's a lot of Native votes that either still have to be counted or have played a very integral role in terms of choosing the next president and how that'll line up."

"We followed 111 candidates running up and down the ballot. That's for the United States Congress, for state legislatures, all the way to city councils and county commission races. So as of Thursday morning, we can say that 61 of those candidates won their races. 31 lost their races, and we're still waiting to hear the results of 16 other races. So we'll continue following that and folks can check out Indian Country Today. We'll be posting updates there. The other sort of data that I wanted to touch upon that I thought was really interesting going into Tuesday evening, we were following 66 Native women who were running for office. We can say that 37 of those 66 Native women won their races. 21 lost, and we're still waiting to hear about eight others. So, very interesting. To see at this point, we can say that more Native candidates won than lost. And we're still waiting of course, to hear results from others."

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Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com. 

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