I like to follow local newspapers looking for articles about coin designers that may have information beyond that seen in the numismatic press. This piece is about the SUBJECT of a new coin, the Native American Five Moons ballerinas.
The United States Mint announced a new $1 coin will be releasing this year featuring esteemed Native American ballerina dancer, Maria Tallchief, along with four others representing the Five Moons – an Oklahoma-based group of Native American ballerinas during the 20th century.
The coin is the latest addition to the U.S. Mint's Native American $1 Coin Program which began in 2009. Authorized by the Native American $1 Coin Act (Public Law 105-124), which was signed into law in 1997, these coins feature designs celebrating the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the history and development of the United States, according to the U.S. Mint.
This year's coin features Maria Tallchief, a member of the Osage Nation and one of the Five Moons ballerinas that had tremendous success in their art while defying racial barriers, opening the door for women of color in the ballet industry, and helping shape ballet in America during the 20th Century in general.
Alongside Tallchief was Myra Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin, and Tallchief's sister Marjorie. Although Tallchief is the only name featured on the coin, releasing later this year, it is suggested the four other dancers in the background are the other members of the Five Moons. Each of these women performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo before pursuing successful careers both on stage and in leadership roles with companies like the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Tulsa Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, and the Paris Opéra Ballet.
A bronze sculpture was even erected in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2007 to honor the Five Moons and several dance festivals in their name occur frequently. The sculpture, however, was unfortunately destroyed by thieves in 2022.
Tallchief, who is considered America's first major prima ballerinas and is said to have revolutionized ballet, was inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame in 1996, and received a National Medal of Arts in 1999. Tallchief passed away in 2013 due to complications related to a dancing injury she sustained the year prior.
To read the complete article, see:
New $1 coin to feature Native American ballerinas ‘Five Moons'
Wayne Homren, Editor
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