Discovering Montana

News Releases

For Immediate Release - March 6, 2000
Contact: Anastasia Burton
Press Secretary
(406) 444-5523

Governor Encourages Use of Sacagawea Golden Dollar Coin

Governor Marc Racicot announced today he would like to encourage all Montanans to use the new Sacagawea golden dollar coin.

Governor Racicot said, "As the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition approaches, many celebrants will be criss-crossing our state, following in the footsteps of Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea. Therefore, it is not only fitting, but also our privilege as Montanans, to honor the memory of this young Indian heroine. In so doing, we honor all Native Americans by celebrating the issuance of the Sacagawea Golden Dollar and promoting its use in all daily business transactions throughout our state."

The issuance of the newly-minted Sacagawea Golden Dollar Coin is of particular interest to Montanans, the Governor noted. "Montana historians, Harry Fritz and the late K. Ross Toole, observed that the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the most time in our state, and made their most important discoveries here as well. While in Montana, the Expedition mapped all the main drainage areas, recorded their most crucial tests, and discovered the sources of the Missouri River."

Sacagawea, a young Shoshone woman, played a significant role in the Corps of Discovery. She traveled with her husband and child to the Pacific Ocean and back with the Expedition. Sacagawea was also a part of one of Montana's most important historic events -- the negotiations between the Salish Indians and Lewis and Clark at Ross Hole in the upper Bitterroot in September, 1805. From this tribe, the Corps received fresh horses, without which Expedition members most likely would have perished. Artist C.M. Russell immortalized this event in his painting, "Lewis and Clark Meeting Indians at Ross' Hole", which hangs in the House of Representatives Chambers in the State Capitol in Helena.

Sacagawea was born in the Shoshone tribe. At approximately nine years of age, she was kidnapped by the Hidatsa tribe and raised at the Mandan Villages, near what is now Bismarck, North Dakota.

The teen-age Sacagawea's presence with her baby was an indication to the Indian tribes that the Corps of Discovery was not a war party. In addition to her translation skills, she provided her traveling companions with food and medicine from the plants and berries she gathered, and also made moccasins and clothing from leather.

Historians believe she died in 1812 in what is now South Dakota.

Governor Racicot made his remarks this morning at a press conference held to announce the availability of grants to help communities pay for Lewis and Clark bicentennial project. The bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition will be celebrated beginning in 2003 through 2006.

In 1998, a citizens committee in Philadelphia voted to recommend Sacagawea be honored on the millennium golden dollar coin. The following month, Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin, accepted the committee's vote to honor her. Montana's Congressional delegation also worked to ensure Sacagawea be honored on the new coin. Its design was unveiled at a White House ceremony on May 4, 1999. Supporters hope use of the coin will also result in more efficient government, since the Treasury will no longer have to continually replace worn-out cotton dollar bills.

The Sacagawea Golden Dollar is available at businesses and banks throughout Montana.


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