Wilma Mankiller Replace Jackson
It's time for a woman to replace Jackson on the $20 bill—and that woman should be Native.

Dump Jackson From the $20; Replace him with a Mankiller

Steve Russell

It’s time for an update on the women organizing what some people like to call Andrew Jackson’s “removal” from the $20 bill, after what President Jackson called the policy that put the United States at the forefront of ethnic cleansing before anybody had heard of ethnic cleansing. We who were on the receiving end of that policy called the result the Trail of Tears.

As mentioned in our first report on this organizing effort, there is another reason why Jackson ought not to be on any Federal Reserve Notes, a reason that ought to be powerful even for those who choose to remember Jackson’s expansion of U.S. democracy rather than his genocidal tendencies. Jackson did not believe in paper money and he was adamantly opposed to the idea of a central bank chartered by the government.

Jackson would have considered his veto of renewing the charter for the forerunner of the Federal Reserve Bank to have been an accomplishment right up there with separating the Five Tribes from their property in the Southeastern United States. To then put his picture on paper money issued by the Federal Reserve bespeaks either historical ignorance or a purpose to insult Jackson’s memory.

A third reason for Jackson Removal is that a woman has never appeared on U.S. paper money and, if that slight is to be remedied, somebody has to be removed. There is no more deserving candidate to be removed from the currency to make way for a representative of half the population.

We noted in our first report that Indians do not exactly have the same complaint as women, because one Indian has made an appearance, Hunkpapa Lakota Running Antelope. Also, Cherokee Houston B. Teehee, in the now defunct Register of the Currency office, had his signature on all paper money between 1915 and 1919. The bills with Teehee’s signature are a collector’s item for some Cherokees. Running Antelope’s appearance was brief and it was on a silver certificate, making his portrait a collector’s item for everybody and beyond the reach of most modern Indians.

Women on 20s is an organization that set out to remedy the exclusion of women from paper currency before the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, granting women the right to vote in federal elections. That anniversary will be celebrated in 2020.

The women have thought this out carefully. They informed themselves on the rules for picking portraits on the money and they researched all the individuals currently on U.S. currency. Their conclusion was that Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill was the obvious candidate to yield his place to a woman because his ignominious role in Indian Removal is better known in our time and because Jackson himself would not have approved of Federal Reserve Notes in the first place.

Women on 20s, in consultation with professional historians, put together a lengthy ballot of women among which the public was invited to choose. The plan was to pick three finalists and then place Cherokee Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller on the final ballot in recognition of the Trail of Tears as one of the primary reasons for replacing Andrew Jackson.

The preliminary voting is over and the final ballot contains Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks, which puts Chief Mankiller in distinguished company. Go here to learn about these four distinguished historical figures.

Finally, cast your ballot here for the woman you believe most qualified to accomplish Jackson Removal off the $20 bill.

Not to expose our bias here at Indian Country Today Media Network, but we find an ironic sense of justice in the prospect of a Cherokee woman accomplishing Jackson Removal.

RELATED: The Odds on Jackson Removal and a Native on Paper Money—Yes, It Happened

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