Column: US Mint offers refunds for 'Shawnee' pouch

"Some government announcements are so weird, you know there just has to be a story there. And in this case, there is.

The United States Mint -- you know, the guys who make your money -- issued a news release this week declaring that $130 refunds were being offered to anyone who bought a 2004 Lewis and Clark commemorative coin that was accompanied by a handcrafted pouch produced by Ohio's Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band.

The Shawnee group was one of a variety of Indian tribes that had been hired by the federal government to manufacture pouches sold with the limited run of 50,000 silver dollars. The Ohio Shawnees were involved in making about 2,000 pouches and were cited in the "certificate of authenticity" that came with each coin-and-pouch set.

The problem, the mint said this week, is that "neither state nor federal authorities recognize the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band of Ohio as an official Indian tribe." As such, "the pouch is not an authentic American Indian arts and crafts product."

"We value authenticity," said Greg Hernandez, a spokesman for the mint. "Once we learned of the issue, we immediately took action.""

Get the Story:
David Lazarus: Tribal question a matter of dollars (The Los Angeles Times 11/2)
Press Release: United States Mint Offers Refund for Pouches That Are Not Authentic American Indian Products (US Mint 10/31)

$rl United States Mint -