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SACAGAWEA, WE HARDLY KNOW YE
By Ed Reiter
(NOTE: The Sacagawea dollar got a new lease on life in 2009, when the
Paging Lewis and Clark: We need you to organize a new expedition.
Specifically, we need a search party to locate the Sacagawea dollar we thought we would be getting from Uncle Sam.
It turns out the folks in
The political correctness of portraying Sacagawea bothered me from the beginning. I’ve said all along that this coin should showcase the Statue of Liberty instead. That was the design favored by the coin’s legislative father, Congressman Michael Castle of Delaware – and with good reason, for it would help ensure public acceptance. Lack of such acceptance played a major role in the downfall of the new coin’s immediate predecessor, the ill-fated Susan B. Anthony dollar.
But Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin was determined to shove a Sacagawea dollar down our throats – apparently because first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was shoving it down his throat. And so
Still, while the selection (or rather, the imposition) of the Sacagawea theme was offensively high-handed, Rubin and his underlings did make a real effort to come up with a first-rate design – and they seemed to have succeeded. The preliminary portraits by
But when the final design was unveiled
These ill-advised revisions reportedly were ordered in an effort to make the Indian woman “prettier.” Instead, they have blunted not only the aesthetic appeal of the original artwork but, ironically, the political message the theme was intended to convey. Instead of true-to-life portraiture like that on the
Goodacre said she revised her design six separate times before her artistic overseers were satisfied. If they’re smart, they’ll go back to her original – the one the Mint proudly posted at its Internet Web site for several months.
We’d still be getting political correctness, to be sure. But that’s a lot better than political ineptness.