Since 2009, The United States Mint has annually minted a new one dollar coin honouring a Native American or group of Native Americans. The reverse of the 2019 Native American coin bears my design honoring the contributions of Native Americans to the U.S. Space Program. Specifically, it highlights engineer Mary Golda Ross and Native American astronauts including John Herrington.

2019 Native American dollar coin
2019 Native American dollar coin with proof finish, engraved by Joseph Menna

My design includes a mathematical equation. Knowing that it was beyond my capabilities to come up with an equation dealing with orbital dynamics that I could confidently say was relevant to Ross’s work, I included in my original submission a placeholder equation. Once my design was selected, The U.S. Mint reached out to NASA engineer Willis Jenkins to provide the equation one sees on the coin.

To learn the interesting story of Mary Golda Ross and to read more about the coin, including a few of my comments on its design as well as remarks from the NASA engineer who provided the equation, see this excellent article from the Winter 2018 issue of American Indian, the magazine of Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.


Karen Johnson

What a beautiful design and so well-thought out! Thanks for sharing the interesting article on Mary Ross. It’s so amazing to think of what she was able to do without all the technology we have today.


Thank you, Karen. I agree, what Mary accomplished seems all the more remarkable when one remembers she did it w/out today’s technology, and even more impressive considering she would have been unique in her workplace, as both a woman and a Native American.

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