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Ceremony Honors Nez Perce Chief Joseph Featured on New U.S. Treasury Inflation-Indexed I Bond


April 23, 1999

The U.S. Treasury's Bureau of the Public Debt today unveiled the new Chief Joseph $200 denomination series I inflation-indexed savings bond at a ceremony in Lewiston, Idaho. The new $200 I Bond will go on sale May 1, 1999. The bond features a portrait of Chief Joseph and a background vignette of him mounted on an Appaloosa horse, known for being bred by the Nez Perce. Participating in today's event are Van Zeck, Commissioner of the Public Debt from Washington, D.C., Governor Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, and Samuel Penney, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.

Chief Joseph is one of eight distinguished Americans featured on the new I Bond. Though he consistently opposed war, when conflict became inevitable, Chief Joseph and other leaders led the Nez Perce on a courageous retreat in 1877 for more than a thousand miles through Montana and Idaho. After a five-day battle during freezing weather conditions with no food or blankets, only 30 miles from safety at the Canadian border, he surrendered out of concern for the women and children. In his final years, Chief Joseph spoke eloquently of the injustice of United States policy toward his people and held out hope that one day freedom and equality would come for Native Americans.

“Chief Joseph's strong leadership and his belief in what was right for Native Americans represents an important part of this country's history and diverse strength,” said Commissioner Zeck. “We are proud to be able to honor the country's past and at the same time help Americans save for their future.”

Treasury's new inflation-indexed savings bond is designed for Americans seeking to protect the purchasing power of their investments from inflation. I Bonds offer a guaranteed real rate of return over and above inflation. I Bonds are sold at face value -- you pay $200 for a $200 bond --and they grow in value with inflation-indexed earnings for up to 30 years. The I Bond earnings rate is a combination of two separate rates: a fixed rate of return, currently 3.3%, which remains the same throughout the life of the bond and a variable semi-annual inflation rate based on changes in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers announced every six months.

Honored on the eight I Bond denominations are the following great Americans:

  • Helen Keller ($50) - author and advocate for individuals with disabilities;
  • Dr. Hector Garcia ($75) - advocate for Mexican-American rights;
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ($100) - prominent civil rights leader;
  • Chief Joseph ($200) - Nez Perce Chief & Native American leader;
  • General George Marshall ($500) - author of Marshall Plan & Nobel Peace Prize recipient;
  • Albert Einstein ($1,000) - creator of Theory of Relativity & Nobel Prize recipient;
  • Marian Anderson ($5,000) - world-renowned African-American vocalist;
  • Spark Matsunaga ($10,000) - former U.S. Senator & Congressman, World War II hero.

The $200 and $10,000 I Bond denominations go on sale May 1, 1999; the other six denominations went on sale September 1, 1998. I Bonds can be purchased from financial institutions, through a payroll savings plan where you work or the new U.S. Savings Bonds EasySaver Plan. For more information on I Bonds and other new initiatives in the savings bond program visit: