The United Cherokee Nation (UCN)
(formerly known as the Cherokee Nation of 1839) is one of approximately
two hundred US-based groups claiming to have Cherokee ties. Many such
groups are dismissed as bogus by Federally-recognised organisations such
as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO), The United Keetoowah Band of
Cherokee in Oklahoma (UKB), or the Eastern Band of Cherokee (EBC) of
North Carolina - and it is because of this that the coin above has
become the centre of ongoing litigation and controversy.
It was designed and minted as a
fund-raiser by the current Chief of the United Cherokee Nation, Robin
Mayes, who is the great-great-grandson of Chief John Ross; Ross was the
longest-serving Cherokee Chief, heading the tribe from 1827 to 1866.
However, whilst the UCN membership is comprised of Native
Americans of Cherokee heritage, its unrecognised nature left it open to
litigation by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, who object to the right
of competing groups to use the name "Cherokee Nation", or to
sell or distribute tribal membership cards, vehicle license plates,
coins or other items featuring that name. As a result, sales of the
UCN's 1 Adela coin were effectively halted after only a few had reached
the open market, and the matter remains unresolved.
The apparent English "D" on the
coin's obverse is actually a character from the Cherokee syllabary and is
the first character in the word Adela pronounced "ah", in the center of
the character D is 1 signifying the coin's denomination - 1 Adela; the
Arabic numeral "1" was
used because there is no single character representing "one" ("sa-wu" in Cherokee).
The word "Adela" itself - pronounced ah-day-la - means "money".
The remainder of the script is translatable as the closest approximation
to "Cherokee Nation" in the Cherokee language.
The arc behind Ross's head, signifies
the rising sun, and the bird signifies a phoenix reborn - both of which
symbolise the UCN's aim of reviving of the Cherokee Nation
Government with in the bounds of the 1839 Constitution of the Cherokee.
The Cherokee name for the bird is "coowescoowee", which means the
great white bird. Coowescoowee was also Chief John Ross's Cherokee name.
The reverse of the coin has a
likeness of the original 1839 Cherokee Nation Seal (also used as a the
Seal of the UCN), which differs from the one used by
Federally-recognised Cherokee groups, insofar as it has a wreath of oak
leaves rather than laurel. The uppermost point of the seal's 7-pointed
star represents the "Creator", while the two downward points represent
the perpetuation of creation.