Apostle Islands quarter released
RED CLIFF, Wis. — Surveying the design of newly minted U.S. quarters featuring the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Rick Peterson suggested a small change.
"Looking outside, we should probably have a snowmobile instead of a kayak," he joked of the coin's design, which features a visitor to the park with a backdrop of the Devils Island sea caves and lighthouse.
But Peterson, chairman of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said the Northwestern Wisconsin climate is a small price to pay for his reservation's proximity to 21 "majestic" islands.
"That's one of the things that makes this area unique," he said. "It's such a special place for all of us. Anybody who lives here knows that things like late or early winters are part of the tradeoff for living in what we consider God's country."
About 500 people, including 200 children from local elementary schools, gathered to celebrate the official launch of the Apostle Islands quarter at a ceremony at Legendary Waters Resort and Casino.
The event featured the presentation of two of the first quarters produced — one from each of the U.S. Mint's plants, in Denver and Philadelphia. Each student received a free coin, and local residents and coin collectors had an opportunity to obtain rolls of the new quarters.
Local officials are hoping for long-lasting national exposure for the Apostle Islands with the release of the quarter. It's the 42nd national site to be featured on the reverse side of quarters since 2010 as part of the "America the Beautiful" series.
"This is an exciting day for all of Wisconsin, especially the Ashland and Bayfield county area," former Bayfield Mayor Larry McDonald declared.
The program commemorates one prominent national site — such as a park, forest, lakeshore or monument — from each of the 56 U.S. states and territories. The quarters are released at a rate of five a year, with the series set to conclude in 2021.
Henry Buffalo, a Red Cliff elder, spoke about the importance of the islands to the Anishinaabe people, who first inhabited the land centuries ago.
He said the Red Cliff and Bad River bands were instrumental in obtaining federal protection for the Apostle Islands, while also advocating to maintain their tribal lands and their hunting and fishing rights. It was in 1970 that President Richard Nixon signed legislation establishing the national lakeshore.
Buffalo touted it as a positive example of agencies working together to promote conservation and tribal rights while also spurring tourism and economic development in the region.
"We've been partners for a long time — the tribal governments, the federal government, the state governments, the local governments," he said. "And that's not going to end soon. It's always important in those relationships to look out for each other."
Apostle Islands Superintendent Bob Krumenaker added that it is important to carry on the stewardship of the Ojibwe people. He said national parks "embody our heritage, both natural and cultural, as well as our future as the least-impacted, most-protected and most-resilient lands in our nation."
"Places are important to people," Krumenaker said, "and Americans are in love with their national parks not simply because they are great vacation destinations."
The U.S. Department of the Treasury selected the national park or site to be recognized from each state in consultation with governors and other executive officials. With the Apostle Islands, Krumenaker said, they chose the location that is not only the most scenic but also provides the most-intact ecosystem in Wisconsin.
Marc Landry, acting associate director of the mint's Numismatic and Bullion Directorate, said the Apostle Islands are one of only two lakeshores featured in the America the Beautiful series.
He said the quarter conveys the "splendor, beauty and purpose" of the Apostle Islands, and predicted that it would inspire "millions" of Americans to research the lakeshore.
"Just as the guiding light beacons from the Devils Island lighthouse — as it has done for decades — the Apostle Islands quarter will serve as a shining example of the inherent value of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and the people who protect it and frequent it," Landry told the crowd.
Landry said this week's release holds some added distinction for the mint. It becomes the 100th design to be featured opposite the familiar George Washington portrait, which took its place on the front of quarters in 1932.
It's also a big year for the Northland, with Voyageurs National Park next in line as Minnesota's representative in the series. Featuring a loon swimming in front of a rock cliff, that quarter is set for a June release.
Mintage totals can vary greatly based on demand, but the six quarters released since the beginning of 2017 have seen an average production of about 400 million.
Officials said efforts are being made to widely circulate the Apostle Islands quarters locally. If you can't wait, or want to buy in bulk, coins can also be purchased online at catalog.usmint.gov/coin-programs/america-the-beautiful-quarters-program.