Medals relating to Native Americans

This page shows medals that relate to Native Americans in some way. Please remember that most of the medals that I am showing were created in the late 19th and early 20th century. This means that, particularly in the earlier years, Native Americans are frequently depicted as background for famous European explorers or important American events. This changes with time because many of the American artists admired Native American arts and studied both culture and art to incorporate it into their own works.

Browse the medals and enjoy them in their historic context.

Please let me know if I missed a Native American-related medal that is already on this site but not part of this collection.

Pan-American Exposition Award Medal 1901
by Hermon Atkins MacNeil
HAM-PAE
Gilded bronze

The medal's obverse bears Liberty walking alongside a Buffalo. Around top, PAN-AMERICAN EXPOSITION; in exergue, field for dedication.

The medal's reverse bears South-American and North-American Native Americans smoking peace pipe together, shields with representations of their respective continents at their feet. Above, BVFFALO / VSA MCMI

The Pan-American Exposition was a World's Fair held in Buffalo, New York from May 1st through November 2nd, 1901. The exposition is most remembered for the shooting of U.S. President William McKinley. Anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot him on September 6th while he was visiting the fair.

The medal exists in plain bronze, silver and gilted bronze variants. The silver variants are very rare but no mintages have been reported.

The medal measures 64mm in diameter and was manufactured by the Gorham Silver Company.

References: Baxter 106, Marqusee 250

Yosemite National Park Medal
YNP
Bronze

This uniface medal's obverse bears bust of Native American chief in feather headdress facing right. Around right side, YOSEMITE NAT'L PARK

The reverse bears maker's mark ROBBINS CO / ATTLEBORO / MASS

This beautiful medal bears no signature and no date. The design and craftsmanship make me believe that it was done by one of the better known medallists but I would really appreciate to get some data on this piece. I would date it no later than the 1940s, but I could be totally wrong.

American Orchid Society Medal1924
BA-AOS
18Kt Gold

This medal's obverse bears kneeling Native American brave facing right, holding risp of orchids growing from raised ground on right. In ground at right, signed (BA monogram).

On the medal's reverse, around circumference, AMERICAN (flower) ORCHID (flower) SOCIETY; in center field, AWARDED TO / C. M. WOOLEY / FOR 100-FOOT / GROUP OF ORCHIDS. / NEW YORK / MAY 10, 1928.

The edge is marked with MEDALLIC ART CO. N.Y. 18Kt

This is a very feminine medal in which the Native American brave seems lost in contemplation while studying the risp of orchids. He seems totally relaxed with his right arm hanging at his side, the hand closed loosely around a length of string or plant fiber. The theme conveys both the native origin of the plants and the gentle nature of the hobby of orchid cultivation. We're leaving aside for the moment the fiercely competitive aspect of any organized club activity.

This beautiful medal was converted into a brooch or a pendant at some point in the past by soldering a clasp and a loop to its reverse. We can be grateful that the obverse was left alone and that the alterations appear to have been performed by a skilled jeweler.

The circular medal measures 41.4mm in diameter and was struck in 18Kt gold by the Medallic Art Company of New York.

References: Marqusee 9

Hopi - Prayer for Rain 1931
by Hermon A MacNeil
SOM-3.1
Hematite red with sea-green highlights around reliefs
SOM-3.2
Light tan with sea-green highlights
SOM-3.3
Golden bronze with tan patina
SOM-3.4
Intense sea-green patina
SOM-3.5
Silver

This medal was chosen as the third issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series in 1931. The obverse bears five Hopi rain dancers, two with snakes in their mouths, two distracting the snakes with eagle feathers, and one crouching to gather up snakes. In exergue, incuse HOPI; at lower right, H A macNeil

The reverse bears dancers racing from mesa onto the desert, hands full of snakes to be returned to their dens. Lightning flashes above. In exergue, incuse PRAYER FOR RAIN; at lower left, incuse ©

This medal's theme was based on bas-relief panels that MacNeil had made decades earlier after a visit to a Hopi reservation. In the brochure accompanying the medal he wrote:

"The two incidents of the Hopi Prayer for Rain on the mesas of northeastern Arizona depicted on this medal are chosen by your sculptor because of the extraordinary vital enthusiasm and power that the Indians throw into this ceremony. Having witnessed it and been thrilled by the intensity of their emotion and on further study by the complicated and perfectly natural development of this drama, I cannot help feel that in it we find a basic note underlying all religions. All these Southwest Indians, living as they do in an arid region, have developed their religion along the lines of their greatest need - water."

This is one of the SOM medals that come in several strikingly different finshes. You can scroll the medal images between variants.

Struck by the Medallic Art Company of New York, the medal is an ovoid measuring 74mm x 70mm. The reported mintage of this medal is 1,713 medals in bronze and 25 in silver.

References: Baxter 354, Marqusee 251

SOM-3.1
Bronze
74.0mm x 70.0mm (2.91in x 2.76in)
Hematite red with sea-green highlights around reliefs
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS THIRD ISSUE
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y.
SOM-3.2
Bronze
74.0mm x 70.0mm (2.91in x 2.76in)
Light tan with sea-green highlights
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS THIRD ISSUE
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y.
SOM-3.3
Bronze
74.0mm x 70.0mm (2.91in x 2.76in)
Golden bronze with tan patina
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS THIRD ISSUE
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y
SOM-3.4
Bronze
74.0mm x 70.0mm (2.91in x 2.76in)
Intense sea-green patina
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS THIRD ISSUE
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y.
SOM-3.5
Silver
74.0mm x 70.0mm (2.91in x 2.76in)
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS THIRD ISSUE - ONE OF LIMITED ISSUE OF 700
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. - .999+ PURE SILVER
SOM-3 Romance Brochure #1 SOM-3 Romance Brochure #2 SOM-3 Romance Brochure #3 SOM-3 Romance Brochure #4
Buffalo Centennial1932
BC-100
Bronze

The obverse bears kneeling native American brave, peering into distance; behind, grain elevator, air plane, locomotive, powerline and smokestacks. Above, SURELY BUFFALO ADVANCES.

The reverse bears image of Buffalo City Hall. Above, BUFFALO CENTENNIAL; below, 1832 - 1932.

The Buffalo City Hall was completed just one year before the city's centennial. It is one of the largest and tallest municipal buildings in the United States and one of the tallest buildings in Western New York. It was designed by John Wade, chief architect, with the assistance of George Dietel. The friezes were sculpted by Albert Stewart and the sculpture executed by Rene Paul Chambellan.

This medal measures 57mm (2 1/4in) in diameter.

References: Marqusee 16

Iowa Fiberbox Company - 25th Anniversary Medal1945
RC-IFC
Silver-plated Bronze

The uniface medal's obverse bears a kneeling brave, facing left, wearing feather headdress, balancing an open box on shoulder. Around, IOWA FIBER · BOX · COMPANY · KEOKUK, IOWA · TWENTY-FIFTH · ANNIVERSARY; in truncation, STRENGTH; to left and right of figure, 1920 / 1945; signed above figure's foot, CHAMBELLAN / Sc

This very handsome uniface medal comes screwed onto a wooden paperweight. It is beautifully modeled and has all the hallmarks of one of Chambellan's better commercial medals. While I have not removed the medal from its base to check for a mint mark, I assume that it was struck by the Medallic Art Company of New York.

The round medal measures 63mm in diameter and is struck in silver-plated bronze.

Alfred V. Kidder Award1950
by Tatiana Proskouriakoff
AVK-1
Golden bronze with tan patina

The medal's obverse bears a classic Mayan motif of two priests at an altar. Incuse on altar, 1950; In exergue, THE / ALFRED VINCENT / KIDDER / AWARD

The reverse shows a Southwestern pueblo under cliff or in cave, maybe Mesa Verde. Above, FOR / ACHIEVEMENT / IN / AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY; signed T.P. along rim in lower right.

The edge is marked at 12:00, ROBBINS CO. ATTLEBORO / GENUINE BRONZE

Alfred Vincent Kidder (October 29, 1885 June 11, 1963) was an American archaeologist considered the foremost of the southwestern United States and Mesoamerica during the first half of the 20th century. He saw a disciplined system of archaeological techniques as a means to extend the principles of anthropology into the prehistoric past and so was the originator of the first comprehensive, systematic approach to North American archaeology.

Established in 1950, the Alfred Vincent Kidder Award for Eminence in the Field of American Archaeology was given every three years to an outstanding archaeologist specializing in the archaeology of the Americas. The award has been given alternately to specialists in Mesoamerican archaeology and the archaeology of the Southwestern region &emdash; areas that were both central to the pioneering and exemplary work of A. V. Kidder.

This award, presented by the AAA but selected by the Archaeology Division of AAA, is now given every two years.

The medal expresses the two different archeaological areas of interest through the imagery on the two sides, both of which were designed by Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1909-1985). She not only designed the medal but was also the award's fifth recipient. The Mayan motif on the obverse represents the Mesoamerican area, whereas the pueblo scene on the reverse represents the Northamerican Southwest.

The medal measures 76mm (3in) in diameter and was struck in bronze by the Robbins Company of Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Proclaiming Liberty 1955
by Malvina Hoffman
SOM-51.1
Golden bronze with olive brown patina
SOM-51.3
Silver

This design by Hoffman was chosen as the 51st issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series.

The obverse bears stylized compass rose and Greek cross dividing the heads of European (NW), Asian (NE), American Indian (SW), and African (SE). Around, PROCLAIMING LIBERTY EVERY ONE TO HIS BROTHER

The reverse bears a northern polar projection of the world map, resembling the UN emblem. Around, NO MAN IS AN ISLAND ENTIRE OF ITSELF - EVERY MAN IS A PIECE OF THE CONTINENT; at left, JOHN DONNE 1575-1631; at right, © M.H.

Malvina Hoffman traveled the globe for several years to create a display for the Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition in 1933-34. The plan was to make precise sculptures of all "The Races of Mankind." Malvina Hoffman ended up casting 97 bronze sculptures for the exhibit, which remained a major attraction for the Field Museum for many decades.

Her SOM medal picked up on this work. She wrote in her "From the Artist"

"The thought prompting the design and quotations on this medal is the ever timely problem: how the races of the world can learn to understand one another."

The medal measures 73mm in diameter and was produced by the Medallic Art Company of New York. Its reported production quantity is 722 in bronze.

SOM-51.1
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Golden bronze with olive brown patina
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 51ST ISSUE - MAY 1955 MALVINA HOFFMAN, SC.
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. BRONZE
SOM-51.2
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Metallic graphite brown patina
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 51ST ISSUE - MAY 1955 MALVINA HOFFMAN, SC.
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. BRONZE
SOM-51.3
Silver
73.0mm (2.87in)
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 51ST ISSUE - MAY 1955 MALVINA HOFFMAN, SC. - ONE OF LIMITED ISSUE OF 700
© MEDALLIC ART CO. DANBURY CT. .999 FINE SILVER
Apache Buffalo Hunt 1959
SOM-59.1
Red-gold bronze with light tan patina
SOM-59.3
Golden bronze with light tan patina

This medal was chosen as the 59th issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series in 1959. The obverse bears an Apache on horseback drawing an arrow on a running bison. Above, APACHE BUFFALO HUNT. The reverse bears a male dancer with head-dress, wooden swords, and cloth streamers. Above, APACHE FIRE DANCER, at lower right, © HOUSER.

In the brochure which acommpanied the medal Houser explained both the Bison hunt and the Fire Dance in detail.

The medal measures 73mm in diameter and was produced by the Medallic Art Company of New York. Its reported production quantity is 713 pieces in bronze.

SOM-59.1
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Red-gold bronze with light tan patina
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 59TH ISSUE - MAY 1959 ALLAN HOUSER, SC.
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. BRONZE
SOM-59.2
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Golden bronze with light tan patina
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 59TH ISSUE - MAY 1959 ALLAN HOUSER, SC.
MEDALLIC ART CO.-DANBURY, CONN
SOM-59.3
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Golden bronze with light tan patina
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 59TH ISSUE - MAY 1959 ALLAN HOUSER, SC.
MACO-NY-BRONZE
Alaska and Hawaii 1965
by Margaret Grigor
SOM-71.1
Golden bronze with light tan patina

This medal was chosen as the 71st issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series in 1965.

The obverse bears two Eskimo men, one ice fishing, tomcod near hole, one chopping ice blocks for a house. Around upper left, ALASKA

The reverse bears two Hawaiian women, one grinding poi, one mending floor mat. Around upper right, HAWAII; in lower left, signed GRIGOR / ©

In her message "From the Artist" Grigor wrote:

"Since it will be many years before either of our newest states, Alaska and Hawaii, will be able to celebrate an anniversary of statehood... I wanted to celebrate their addition to the Union. To me the most interesting characteristic of both new states is that each has brought into our country a new and different culture and way of life."

Members' reaction to the medal was enthusiasticly positive.

The medal measures 73mm in diameter and was produced by the Medallic Art Company of New York. The reported mintage is 909 pieces in bronze.

SOM-71.1
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Golden bronze with light tan patina
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 71ST ISSUE - MAY 1965 MARGARET GRIGOR, SC.(C)
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. BRONZE
SOM-71.2
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Golden bronze with light tan patina
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 71ST ISSUE - MAY 1965 MARGARET GRIGOR, SC.(C)
MEDALLIC ART CO.-DANBURY, CONN
SOM-71 Romance Brochure