Friday, 03 February 2012 21:46

Chief Silver Certificates

If Notes Could Talk

One of my all time favorite Large Size notes is the 1899 Large Size Blue Seal Five Dollar “Chief” Note.

This note shows, as its center and central figure, the image of brave Chief Running Antelope who became Head Chief of the Hunkpapa in 1851. He was born in South Dakota in 1821 and raised in native traditional skills and values. As diplomat, communicator, and warrior Chief Running Antelope was a friend and advisor to Chief Sitting Bull during the Plains Indian conflicts. He believed, however, that native nations should compromise with not fight against whites. If you are looking at a Chief Silver Certificate you are looking at a picture of the only American Indian to be featured on US Currency. The engraved picture is not without controversy, however. The story is that Chief Running Antelope is shown wearing a Pawnee head dress, not Hunkpapa, because the one the Chief actually wore was too tall for the engraving. Another version of that story is that the Chief was told to wear the Pawnee head dress during the photographic session which he adamantly refused to do. Either way, the head dress show on his head is Pawnee.

Chief Running Antelope was pictured on the five dollar Silver Certificate in 1899. Unfortunately, he died long before the printing, sometime between 1896 and 1897.

These notes are also known as “onepapa,” (a bit of a misnomer for the Oncpapa/Hunkpapa Tribe of the Sioux Nation), “Chief Antelope,” “Chief Onepapa” or quite often just the “$5 Chief..”

The notes are highly sought-after, collectable, and if graded at a higher scale, extremely valuable.

So what would the notes tell us, if they could talk?

Please post a comment.

For a look at more Silver Certificates:

See this link for Idaho information:

Published in Currency News

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