To spark her imagination, Glenna Goodacre, the sculptor who designed the Sacagawea image on the Golden Dollar, used a real person, Randy'L He-dow Teton.

Randy'L He-Dow Teton Inspired the Coin's Design

Meet Randy'L He-dow Teton. She's the mysterious face behind the Golden Dollar.

In 1998, the University of New Mexico college student, then 22, spent an afternoon modeling for sculptor Goodacre. It was just a couple of hours, but it really paid off.

During the session, it didn't seem like anything would result. But a few weeks later, Goodacre called with big news: "We got it!"

Teton says, "It was hard to comprehend. I was so startled, I called my family, but no one believed I would be on the new dollar coin. No one even knew about the Sacagawea coin."

Randy'L He-dow Teton, Goodacre's model for the new Golden Dollar coin, poses beside an enlargement of the obverse image.

How did Teton and Goodacre meet? Let's go back to the start. It's 1998 and the U.S. Mint has invited New Mexico sculptor Goodacre to submit designs for the new dollar coin. But sculptors can't sculpt out of thin air! Goodacre needs a model. So she travels to the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum (IAIA), in Santa Fe, NM.

There, she asks at the front desk if they know any young Shoshone women in the area. She's in luck. Teton's mother, who works at the museum, shows Goodacre pictures of her three daughters. That very night, Goodacre contacts Teton in Albuquerque.

Modeling wasn't easy, recalls Teton. "Pose this way, hold your head that way, point, stand up, turn your head..." The instructions went on and on. "I had to hold poses for a long time without breathing," she says. "I was glad when it was all over."

Teton is proud about modeling for the Golden Dollar. What does she like about the Golden Dollar image? "Its strength, gracefulness, and humbleness. The dignity in her eyes." she says, "To me, the image doesn't represent me, it represents all Native American women. All women have the dignity of the Golden Dollar's image."

Both at her college and back home at Idaho's Fort Hall Indian Reservation, where she grew up, everyone knows Teton is the Golden Dollar face. She receives so many questions about the coin and modeling for it, that she's even set up her own informational Web page.

By modeling, Teton carved a unique spot for herself. As the Golden Dollar coin takes its place in history, so will she.

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