The Royal Canadian Mint has joined McGill University’s First Peoples’ House 17th Annual Pow Wow to unveil a coloured silver coin celebrating the spectacular pageantry of the Fancy Dance, a modern Indigenous art form that is a powerful and captivating expression of Indigenous pride and heritage.
The two-ounce “Fancy Dance” coin, which has a denomination of $30, has a weight of 62.69 grams; a diameter of 50 millimetres; and a mintage of 3,500 pieces. It celebrates the art form that originated in the U.S.—specifically, Oklahoma—during the early 20th century, when it was performed for entertainment purposes. It gradually caught on in other regions and has since become one of the most popular dance categories at today’s competitive pow wows, where dancers are judged for their dancing abilities and their regalia.
“This land’s cultural heritage began with the art, music, dance, and traditions of Indigenous peoples, and it is exciting to see these traditions reflected in a new coin from the Royal Canadian Mint,” said Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary for Crown-Indigenous relations, who attended the coin’s unveiling. “As we work toward meaningful reconciliation and a future where all Indigenous peoples have a real and fair chance at success, the inspiring design of the Mint’s Fancy Dance coin reminds us of the importance of recognizing and celebrating Indigenous traditions.”
The reverse image, by Kanien’kehá:ka artist Garrison Garrow, captures the fast-paced energy of a modern pow wow dance style—the Fancy Dance.
A male dancer dominates the reverse, where finely detailed engraving adds a sense of energetic movement while an application of colour highlights the intricate nature of his regalia. From the Thunderbird of the Plains peoples to the Iroquois design on the apron, the array of motifs, textures and traditional elements (including the sacred eagle feathers) strongly evokes the pow wow’s cultural importance.
The obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
“The Royal Canadian Mint prides itself on telling the fascinating story of Canada through coins and celebrating First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures is fundamental to achieving that goal,” said Jennifer Camelon, interim president and CEO of the Mint.
“Our beautifully coloured coin celebrating the dazzling art of the Fancy Dance is yet another opportunity for Indigenous artists from across Canada to share their talent, traditions and cultures.