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5.7.4a United States, New York, Copper Pattern (Obverse)

Obverse side: Standing Indian with bow and tomahawk.

Produced at a private mint, either in New York City or Rahway Mills, New Jersey.

United States, New York, Copper Pattern, 1787 (Obverse). National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

Take a look at both sides of the coin. What symbols are represented on each side? Are any of these symbols familiar to you? Are any similar to ones you have seen during your study of the events you have learned about in history? In the year this coin was minted, the United States was at war with Native groups in the upper Midwest and had passed a policy that allowed for settlement on land that was still held by Native Americans. What does it mean to use Native Americans as symbols for the United States in such a moment?


In Source 3, you read that states had their own money systems, which made buying and selling things difficult. This is a coin that was minted in New York or New Jersey. Who might want to use this coin? What do you think some challenges would be for merchants who were using this coin to buy and sell goods in their shops? What would be the challenges for someone who was using this coin in Virginia or Massachusetts?


Teachers can ask students about the symbols on the coin, a Native American on one side and two women on the other. Discuss that these were symbolized representations of both Natives and women. The image of the Native American included a stereotypical representation of Native Americans. Teachers can have students investigate the Native tribes that allied and fought against the colonists. Let students know that the United States was then fighting a war against Native Americans in the upper Midwest who had formed a “Western Confederacy” to resist US settlement on their land. The students should also learn that the Confederation Congress had passed a series of land ordinances that assumed Native Americans would lose their land to settlers. These conflicts continued until 1795. On this coin, the woman carrying the scales represents justice, and the woman carrying the pike or rod with the liberty cap represents liberty. Teachers can ask students to identify contemporary currency and consider what symbols we have on our coins. As an extension activity, students can develop their own coins with symbols and explain why they selected their symbols.