POCATELLO — Randy’L Teton struggled to come up with a name for her business until the day she spoke in front of a crowd in Philadelphia.
A man in the audience kept teasing Teton, calling her the “Face of Gold” and it stuck.
The model for the Sacagawea dollar coin recounted her historical experience at the Pocatello Rotary Club’s luncheon on Thursday.
“We asked for an authentic dress to wear in the pictures,” Teton said. “To my surprise, it fit perfectly — everything about it. I really felt good at that time. We were surrounded by good energy.”
The woman from Blackfoot was busy attending school at the University of New Mexico when artist Glenna Goodacre contacted her, saying she needed a model who was a Shoshone.
At the time, Goodacre was having problems creating a design she liked for the coin contest as Sacagawea was never portrayed in Lewis and Clark’s journals.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m not the model type. I’m not tall and I don’t weigh 100 pounds,’ ” Teton said. “But I think that history and culture are so important and that’s what really enticed me to pose for the pictures.”
All six of Goodacre’s 3-D clay renditions of the Sacagawea coin ended up being finalists in the design contest.
“These images actually brought up controversial topics for my tribe. Particularly the ones where she is pointing,” Teton said. “Even today, Sacagawea is not considered a heroine. She is thought of as a traitor. The elders thought she brought the white people to the land.”
Teton emphasized that the image on the coin is of Sacagawea, not her.
“The forehead, cheeks and chin are mine, the rest are Sacagawea’s,” Teton said, as laughter erupted from the audience.
Teton’s entire family was present at the unveiling ceremony in Washington D.C.
The Sacagawea dollar has been minted every year since 2000.
“A lot of people ask me what I’m doing now,” Teton said. “Besides being a mother, I am helping to create the next line of tribal leaders. I work with juniors and seniors in the area to create mentorships and organize community service projects. After extensive travel in my past, I am back home and giving back.”