The U.S. Mint released a coin commemorating the work of Alaska Native leader Elizabeth Peratrovich on Wednesday.
The 2020 Native American $1 coin is currently only available online, but Alaskans are advocating for a wider release.
“What we would like is to have it go through the Seattle reserve and have 5 million coins released into general circulation, so that we have a visible reminder of the work done by those who have gone before us,” said Paulette Moreno, grand president of the Alaska Native Sisterhood.
Peratrovich, who was from Southeast Alaska and a member of the Tlingit Lukaax̱.ádi clan in the Raven moiety, worked on the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945 by Alaska’s territorial government. This Sunday is the 75th anniversary of the bill’s passage, known statewide as Elizabeth Peratrovich Day.
It’s the first time an Alaska Native person has been depicted on U.S. currency. The golden coin features Sacagawea on the front and an image of Peratrovich with a formline raven on the back.
A resolution, House Joint Resolution 9, requesting that the U.S. Mint make the coin more widely available, recently passed both houses of the Alaska Legislature. It’s awaiting the governor’s signature.
Moreno said that effort was led largely by the 4-H Youth in Governance program. High-school-aged students from across the state visited Juneau last year to ask lawmakers to pass the resolution.
“In their communities all over Alaska, they wanted to be able to reach into their pocket, their backpack or their purse and hold the coin that symbolized their right to fair and equal citizenship,” Moreno said.
The Alaska Native Sisterhood and Alaska Native Brotherhood are encouraging Alaskans to contact their congressional delegation to ask them to support wider release of the coin.