Have you ever met a living coin? I had the privilege to do just that when Cameron Kiefer, summer intern at the American Numismatics Association, introduced me to RandyíL Teton. If you donít know who she is, just look at
the portrait on the Sacagawea dollar, and youíll see her face. It was Randy that posed for Glenna Goodacre, the designer of the golden dollarís obverse. I met Randy while attending the Summer Seminar at Colorado Springs as she interned with the ANAís museum department. Even after I butchered her name introducing her to my classmates, she still graciously allowed me to interview her at the end of my week there.
Originally, I had a list of questions that mainly centered on numismatic themes. However, the night before the interview, Randy gave a presentation on her life before and after her modeling ďgig,Ē and in turn I created some
new questions to spring off of that information. Some neat facts from her talk included:
- Her total pay for the modeling job was gas mileage for the trip from
Santa Fe to Albuquerque.
- They used a Wal-Mart doll as the model for Sacagaweaís son, Jean Baptiste
- The governmentís selection process for the coinís design was as
bureaucratic as everything else the government does.
So, without further ado, hereís Randy.
-A-RandyíL Hedow Teton. Hedow in Soshone is meadowlark and in Bannock
itís ďclose to ground.Ē
-Q-Where are you from?
-A- Grew up in Lincoln Creek outside of Blackfoot located in Southeastern Idaho. Thatís where my whole family still resides today.
-A-I really donít have a current job job. Iím pretty open to
anything and I play it off my contracts.
-A- I gave that some thought. Iím a movie fan. I always go to movies. So I would have to say I donít have a favorite, I have a lot that I like. One of them being ďWoman on Top,Ē itís Brazilian. I usually like foreign films, anything comedy and humor.
-A- Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie. He is a renowned Native American writer from the state of Washington. Heís written several other books and he also has that movie that recently came out called ďSmoke Signals.Ē Thatís actually derived from several of his past books he had written when he was in college, and Reservation Blues was one of them.
-Q-Childís book about Sacagawea?
-A-Naya Nuki by Kenneth Thomasma. Heís a non-native teacher from Wyoming. He wrote this book a couple years back about two girls, Naya Nuki and Sacagawea getting enslaved by the Minitarees and their whole flight into returning back home. Mostly it really highlights Naya Nuki. But it is a good book and I recommend it.
-Q-Your computer comfort (pen and paper or email junkie)?
-A- Iím both. I get tired of the email. Itís too time consuming. You end up spending more time on it than you think you are. So I prefer the traditional pen and paper.
-Q-Your immediate family?
-A- Iím the second to the oldest. They called me the ďLittle MomĒ cause I was the one that always disciplined them, to help my mom and my dad. I guess I was a stricter kind of sister. They still considered me that. I do have two little brothers and I have two little sisters. Weíre very close and have been ever since we were small. Weíve always been pretty close due to the way my mother taught us to be. I have to say itís mostly my mother. Sheís the type that kind of binds us together. All are still in Idaho except for my mom who resides in Santa Fe.
-Q-What is your most embarrassing teenager event you can share?
-A- Well, letís just say I was silly when I was growing up. There are probably several
moments when I embarrassed myself in front of my family. As you know I have a large extensive family so there always moments when we all gathered together, and the kids would make fun of each other, and we would do stupid things just to get attention. So I would have to say my whole childhood was pretty silly. I really didnít have an embarrassing embarrassing moment. All of them were just silly acts of childhood.
-Q-What accomplishment(s) (either professionally or non-professionally) has
given you the most satisfaction?
-A-Graduating from college. Iím the first in my immediate family to receive a college degree. I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art History and a minor in Native American studies out of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Before that, I received my Associates degree in Museum Studies from the Institute of American Indian
Arts in Santa Fe.
-Q-Why did you get a degree in that field?
-A-Because my mother was our tribal director for ten years. I practically grew up in the museum field, knowing how to care for objects, and the whole efforts of preserving our past and our culture and traditions. I think thatís been one of my lifeís important goals of accomplishments in the future for me. Thereís not that many Native Americans in the field. So just to be able to teach another non-Native about our history would be complete gratitude so they can better respect the variety of Native Americans living today. There is so much diversity nowadays. But when I was growing up, I remember going to a museum, and there would be a non-Native teaching Natives about Native American history. I thought that was so wrong. Where the majority of them received that knowledge was from books. And a lot of time books are writing stereotypical. So thatís one of the reasons why Iíve always stressed going into the museum field. At the moment, Iím pursuing my Masters degree in the museum field.
-Q-What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a spokesperson for Native
-A- I would have to say being able to be open-minded to all the issues that are going on, or that Native Americans are facing. There are so many issues that are political, and itís kind of hard for me to get into that realm because I am not a political kind of person. It seems that when I got the modeling ďgigĒ as I like to call it, I was automatically put into
that position. Because Native Americans nowadays, weíre all striving for sovereignty so each tribe has their own problems. To be the spokesperson for all indigenous people, itís kind of hard for me to kind of pinpoint what issue I would like to highlight in their behalf. So I would have to say thatís the most difficult, actually having to gain the support from each of the tribes because itís pretty hard. I think Iíve been doing okay so far. Iíve havenít received any negative comments or any feedback; itís all been
-Q-Are you a coin collector?
-A- Well, starting to become one. Actually I find the currency and the tokens and all the coins, the ones with the Native American images on them, more interesting to me because one thing I said last night was the whole history behind that token or that note is very
interesting to me. To have a Native American on there, why did they select a Native American? I mean I always wonder what was going through whoever selected that image. To me, it makes me proud to be a Native American because we actually have a long history of currency dating all the way back to the 1700s, and they have Native American images on them. So Native American people have been a part of U.S. history for the longest time, and I find that very important to me to collect. I collect it for eye appeal. Iím not going to be really technical and get to the grading and all that. I collect what is interesting to me and thatís what is interesting to me.
-Q-Any moment with Glenna Goodacre that stands out from the rest?
-A- Letís see. I have to say the first time we met, and that was at her studio in doing the
two-hour photo shoot. She made me feel really relaxed because I was nervous. To be honest I was really nervous. I had no clue what to do. As a kid growing up, you imitate models, and people on the runway. Youíre just having fun as part of girlsí dress-up. For me, that was doing it. Doing just that, it was dressing up; it was acting. She was crazy because she be teasing me and so I had fun with that. I think that was the most memorable moments that we had. Nowadays we are close, but we both have our own private lives, and sheís doing her own thing and Iím doing mine. We try to stay in contact with each other, from here to there. Probably later on Iíll end up remembering something and Iíll be like ďOh, I should have told him that.Ē That always happens to me.
-Q-What are your future plans (short and long range)?
-A- Short term is receiving my Masters. Long term, I would like to establish a cultural center that actually highlights not only my tribeís history, but more or less the Great
Basin. The Great Basin is very large and extends from Idaho, Wyoming to Nevada, and Oregon and Washington Ė parts of those areas. The cultural centers that exist today are mainly small non-profit centers due to the tribes not having the budget for such a large institution. So that is what I would like to do. I think itís real important in todayís changing society. It all narrows down to preserving what is left, and Iím not saying
that we donít have anything left, itís just preserving what knowledge the elders hold. Because a lot of the elders are passing away, itís one of my wishes to return back home and record what knowledge they have. I think thatís really important.
-Q-What is the most important lesson you have learned from numismatics?
-A-Actually, from the time Iíve been here as an intern and also part of the summer seminar, I learned a lot of things about how to handle coins, what to look for, what not to look for. I learned a few conservation techniques. Iíve also learned how to catalog and register coins and bank notes. I find numismatics very interesting. One thing I also learned was the history of the Mint and the process behind the coinís making. And to look not only at what is there that youíre holding in your hands, but look beyond that at the
Mint directors, the coin treasurers, and the engravers. I took a class in which we talked about all that, and I thought that was just even more interesting to me than the coin itself, because those were the people that made it happen. It showed how the coin reflected that time in history.
Open microphone to add anything about yourself:
That Iím very proud. Iím happy but like I said last night, it is a struggle because Iím doing this all by myself Ė there is no other model out there for me to kind of talk with and compare things with. Iím doing this all by myself. But I think Iím doing okay. Iím trying to do as much as I can. You never know where the road will lead, cause like I said, thereís so many paths that Iím able to take, and itís just choosing which path to take. Right now Iím just taking it real slow. I was always taught that things would come to you if youíre just patient. So, Iím patient and I have a lot of people who ask me ďWell,
how come youíre not doing this? How come youíre not doing that?Ē Well, it has to come to me; Iím not going to go running after it. Iím going to do what I like to do, and that is I want to maintain a stable job which is kind of hard for me cause Iím always called onto the road. So thatís why I said I donít really have a job because Iím always here and there, different states, doing different things. So, that is my job. But I just want to say
that Iím proud of this, Iím happy to be here as part of the Summer Seminar. Itís my first time here, and first time in Colorado Springs, and so far so good. And I just think itís wonderful to meet all the instructors and even the YNs. Itís wonderful to see the younger generation getting involved and actually taking an interest in coins. Because when I was growing up, you didnít see that many coin collectors especially at that age. Especially
where I came from, you didnít see any. So, I just think thatís really, really wonderful, and just to keep doing it.