On the South Dakota 1 Goldback Denomination, Pax, symbolizing Peace, graces the series for the first time. She is portrayed as a Lakota Native American, adorned in traditional attire, performing the hoop dance—a dance she personally demonstrated to the artist during a research visit. The essence of peace in this design was deeply influenced by the Lakota performer's heartfelt speech. She crafted her regalia, a tapestry of her name, tribe, lineage, tales, and personal zeal. The terms 'Lakota', 'Nakota', and 'Dakota' in their indigenous dialects mean “The Friendly Ones”. This profound message inspired the artist, leading to the inclusion of the phrase “Alliance of Friends” on the Goldback Denomination.
The hoop dance embodies the essence of forging peace with all entities, viewing them as kin. The performer emphasized that genuine peace arises when one embraces every individual, regardless of their background, and extends this camaraderie to animals, flora, and even natural elements. This artwork encapsulates these sentiments, from the revered Bear Butte or “Mato Paha” in the backdrop to the animals encircling the Virtue of Peace.
The piece intricately showcases the cancega drum with the Sacred Hoop or Medicine wheel, and subtly highlights the seven sacred elements shared with the artist: land, air, water, rocks, animals, plants, and fire. The Prairie Crocus, or Pasque flower, in the bottom right, symbolizes life's fleeting nature and cyclical seasons, resonating with the hoop dance and cancega's symbolism. This flower, heralding spring, completes its life cycle in a mere two weeks, mirroring our ephemeral existence, built upon the legacy of our ancestors. True peace, as the Lakota woman conveyed, stems from harmonizing with our surroundings. The words at Pax’s feet on the South Dakota 1 Goldback Denomination resonate with her teachings, urging all to “Seek Peace”.
The window, the candlestick in the right corner of the window sill and the columns on each side of the design, are each inspired from St. Mary of the Mountains Catholic Cathedral in Virginia City, (now, Saint Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church & Museum), which was also an inspiration for this artwork. The window below Mary’s dress hides the word “Love”, the symbol of a square, a compass, a wagon wheel, and rosary beads. The viewer will also note the ash tree, symbolizing marriage and Las Vegas’s status as the marriage capital of the world; and a family of ring-necked pheasants, which showcase the selfless acts of nurture and protecting their family and young.