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Oglala Sioux Tribe to have its own privately minted coins

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The Oglala Sioux Tribe will soon have its own set of privately minted commemorative coins with designs honoring Native American heritage and culture.

The Native American Mint, which produces and markets coins for other tribes, held a contest to design a one dollar coin, as well as five other coins of smaller denominations. The winners were announced Wednesday.

The private mint, based in California, plans to produce some dollar coins in silver. Other dollar coins and the smaller denomination coins would be minted from a copper-zinc alloy, according to Garry Bishop of the organization Serving the Lakota, who organized the design contest.

All of the coins would be offered in uncirculated condition, and the dollar coin would be available in about six months.  No proof editions would be minted, Bishop said.

The coins would not be legal tender and could not be used as money, which would be a violation of federal law.

"They won't be used as currency," Bishop said. "We'd get in a lot of trouble if we did that."

Bishop said the coins, which will be minted in Germany, will be mostly sold to collectors, especially in Europe. He said there is a strong demand in Europe for Native American products.

He said the tribe will receive a few thousand dollars once the designs are complete. The tribe will not see any royalties until after 25,000 coins are sold, and then will receive a set fee per coin sold.

Gold coins might be minted in the future if the silver coins sell well, he said.

There were two grand prize winners in the contest to design the dollar coin — Morningstar Yellow Bird and Hope Conquering Bear. The two designs will be featured on the obverse and reverse of the coin.

Runners-up were Merle Locke, Charles Mousseaux, Dean Two Sticks, Victor Runnels, Kevin Short and Shawn Slother. Their designs will be used in the other denominations of coins.

The Native American Mint is hosting an awards ceremony dinner with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Office of Economic Development on June 22 at 5 p.m. at Billy Mills Hall in Pine Ridge Village.

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