“F*** You, Sacagawea” – U.S. Treasury
Notariaty and immortality– something all human beings long for in some form or fashion. Thus, when an individual is memorialized by his/her society, it could be considered the ultimate honor for a distinguished existence. That is, unless your memorialization causes those who would otherwise remember you fondly to curse your name and the mere mention of your existence.
In the year 2000, the United States Mint, in its infinite wisdom, decided to issue a coin with a $1 value commemorating Sacagawea and her contribution to the Lewis and Clark expedition of the Louisiana Purchase. The “Sacagawea Dollar” was born, and the US Mint launched an aggressive marketing campaign including print media and television ads, along with partnerships with Wal-Mart and General Mills.
I cant decide if either a racist mole, buried deep in the heart of the Treasury Department had it out for Native Americans and/or women and wanted to mock their respective contributions to society by creating a worthless tender with their face on it, or someone actually thought this was a good idea.
I was leaving a parking garage the other week, and when I handed the attendant/scholar a $10 bill, I received 5 Sacagawea dollars as change. My brother owed me $10 once many years ago and tried paying me back with the money from our family’s Monopoly game– this felt eerily similar.
After pleading with the attendant for single dollars, I was refused and the chorus of car horns behind me indicated that I was alone in my quest to demand widely accepted legal tender.
So, on the empty city streets at roughly 9 PM on a Tuesday, I do what I always do when I’m irritated–figure out how I can make other people irritated by the same thing so I’ll have something to occupy myself with. I googled “Sacagawea Dollar” and that’s when I discovered the Treasury’s partnership with Wal-Mart to market the coin–so I decided to head to belly of the beast to test the strength of this partnership, between worthless Sacagawea dollars and a clientele most of whom have never heard of Sacagawea and were probably wondering why their quarters looked strange.
It was everything I hoped it would be– and more. I approached a cashier and asked if she had ever heard of the Sacagawea dollar- “SACK UH WHAT?” SAC-A-GAW-EA. “SACK UH JEWS…WHAT”. Really? Sack of Jews? Yes, I have a backpack filled with Hebrews. NO- THIS COIN. “Oh the Indian dollar. Nah we ain’t take those.” Guess who else “ain’t take those”…vending machines, street vendors (reaaallly didnt like it), and Wendy’s.
I’d like to congratulate our elected officials and government employees on a job well done– 12 years later and no one knows what the hell that thing is or who Sacagawea is. Even my iPad doesn’t know because it keeps highlighting her name as a misspelling.
Also, let’s not forget that most Native American tribes bartered, and didn’t use currency until we came along and forced them to. Classy move, America. That’s like memorializing the peril of slavery with a new line of wheelbarrows and sunscreen.
Rather than look at them in my change bin each day as a reminder of our government’s idiocy and cause undue aggression toward a long-since-deceased Native American woman, I sent them as a donation to Sacagawea State Park. I hope they accept the coins–the irony would be more than I could bear, otherwise.