Why were Buffalo chosen for U.S. Coins

Published in Buffalo

Why were Buffalo (American Bison) chosen as a design for U.S. coins?

There are two main reasons why the buffalo was chosen for the Buffalo Nickel, the inspiration for the Buffalo Gold Dollar:

  • Symbol of the American West: The bison was a powerful and iconic animal associated with the untamed spirit of the American frontier. During the early 20th century, there was a surge of interest in Western themes, and the bison embodied this rugged individualism and pioneering spirit that many Americans admired.
  • Connection to Native Americans: The bison played a central role in the lives of many Native American tribes. They provided sustenance, shelter, and materials for tools and clothing. Including the bison on the coin was seen as a way to acknowledge the deep connection between Native Americans and the land.

It’s interesting to note that the designer, James Earle Fraser, also incorporated a Native American profile on the obverse of the Buffalo Nickel. This further emphasized the connection between the bison and the indigenous peoples of North America.