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Alaska Native leader to be commemorated on coin

July 7th | Shady Grove Oliver Print this article   Email this article  

The face of Tlingit Alaska Native civil rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich will soon be featured on the $1 coin, opposite Sacagawea.

She is the same woman recognized every Feb. 16, on a day named in her honor, for her contributions to the state.

The U.S. Mint released prospective designs for the new commemorative coin at the end of June. There are several different renditions up for consideration, all of which recognize Alaska's Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945.

"Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich stood up to fight the unfair, inhumane, and degrading treatment of Alaska Native peoples, and their efforts towards positive change reverberate to this day," said Gov. Bill Walker in a statement.

Elizabeth Peratrovich was born in Petersburg, a member of the Raven moiety of the Lukaax╠▒.?di clan. After marrying her husband, Roy, they lived in Klawock and later moved to Juneau. While in the city, they each became central figures in the Alaska Native Sisterhood and Brotherhood, respectively, and took up the cause of bringing down discriminatory policies and practices in the then-territory.

Elizabeth testified before the territorial legislature in support of the Anti-Discrimination Act:

"I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind them, of our Bill of Rights," she said.

The bill ultimately passed, nearly two decades before the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"Their words and actions continue to be an inspiration and reminder of the power that all people have to impact their government; this honor is truly deserved," said Gov. Walker, in the statement.

According to a release from the governor's office, the Department of the Treasury will now approve one final design. Many of the options focus on a depiction of Elizabeth Peratrovich's face, while others center around a Raven design or a dancer wearing a Chilkat blanket.

Regardless of which is chosen, the "tails" side of the coin will feature the new design. The "heads" side will be the 2000 Sacagawea image.

"The Act (Public Law 110-82) authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue $1 coins with reverse designs bearing images celebrating the important developmental and historical contributions made by First Peoples to the United States," the release noted.

The coin will be released in 2020.


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