Iconic Five Moons Ballerinas to Be Featured on the U.S. $1 Coin

November 22, 2022

Every year since 2009, the U.S. Mint has issued $1 coins featuring designs celebrating influential Native American figures and tribes through its $1 Native American Coin Program. This coming year, the coin will feature iconic dancers Maria Tallchief (Osage), Marjorie Tallchief (Osage), Rosella Hightower (Choctaw), Moscelyne Larkin (Shawnee-Peoria) and Yvonne Chouteau (Shawnee)—together, the “Five Moons.” This iconic group of five from Oklahoma made history in the 20th century as the first Native American ballerinas to perform in renowned ballet companies around the world. Each would also go on to become artistic directors or found schools that are still active to this day.

Starting at noon EST on February 6, 2023, the Mint will open sales for bags and rolls of the Native American $1 coin featuring the Five Moons dancers on the reverse side; the coin will maintain its standard image of Shoshone historical figure Sacagawea and her son, Jean Baptiste, on the obverse.

Left: A close-up of the US Native American $1 Coin. A gold coin with a ballerina on center in penche attitude representing Maria Tallchief. Four ballerina figures behind her in various balletic poses, and five phases of the moon behind them all. Around the edge, text reads "United States of America" at the top and "American Indians in Ballet" at the bottom. "Maria Tallchief" and "$1" are printed to the left of Tallchief's supporting leg. Right: A close-up of the US Native American $1 Coin. Sacagawea, shown chest up from the back, turns her head to look at the viewer. Her son, an infant, is held on her back with a traditional fabric carrier. The text "Liberty" is inscribed above her head.
United States Mint image. Courtesy U.S. Mint.

Designed by Benjamin Sowards and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, the reverse image shows Maria Tallchief, the first American prima ballerina, in an attitude penchée on center. She is lined on either side by four figures in varying iterations of retiré or sous-sus on pointe. According to the Mint, the four dancers represent not only Marjorie Tallchief, Hightower, Larkin and Chouteau, but “the generations of dancers they inspired” with their achievements. In the background, a lunar motif is a nod to “Five Moons.”

The Mint notes that Native American $1 coins are produced as collectibles and will not be put into general circulation. However, they may still be used as legal tender.

So next time you see a $1 coin, make sure to check both sides to see if yours is graced by the Five Moons ballerinas!