The United States Mint has released candidate designs that commemorate Alaska Native Civil Rights Leader Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law as part of the Native American $1 Coin Program.
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.
“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,” Governor Bill Walker said on June 30th. “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.”
In 1945, the Peratroviches testified in front of the Territorial Legislature, reminding lawmakers of the Bill of Rights and the inherent equality of all people. The body was considering anti-discrimination legislation during a time when discrimination was widespread, and storefronts and businesses displayed “No Natives Allowed” signs. Elizabeth was the last to testify on the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act, and witnesses say her passionate testimony ultimately led to the bill’s passage nearly 20 years before Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Elizabeth and Roy were deeply involved in their community, and served as grand presidents of the Alaska Native Sisterhood and Alaska Native Brotherhood respectively. They also helped the American Red Cross raise funds during World War II.
The Department of the Treasury will approve a final design for release in 2020. The obverse (heads side) design retains the central figure of the “Sacagawea” design first produced in 2000, and the reverse (tails side) will feature a design that commemorates Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law.