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Canada 2009 Native American Thunderbird Totem $5 Pure Silver Maple Leaf - Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Special Edition SML Specimen Brilliant Uncirculated

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A Native American Thunderbird totem adorns this special Olympic edition pure silver maple leaf!

Sold out at the Mint!The 2010 Winter Olympic (officially known as the XXI Olympic Winter Games) will be held from February 12 to February 28, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with some events held in Whistler, British Columbia. The 2010 Winter Olympics will be the third Olympics hosted by Canada, and the first by the province of British Columbia. Previously, Canada was host to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. These will also be the first winter games to be held in a National Hockey League (NHL) market since the league started allowing its professional hockey players to participate in 1998.

SingleGreenMapleLeaf.jpgTo commemorate this spectacular event, the Royal Canadian Mint has struck this special Silver Maple Leaf coin, 2nd in the the first series of one ounce, pure silver bullion Olympic commemorative coins ever! The 1st in this series is the 2008 Special Edition 2010 Winter Games SML and the 3rd is the 2010 Hockey Olympic SML!

In a tribute to the first inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest, this pure silver coin bears the intriguing image of the Thunderbird, cleverly formed to approximate the shape of a Canadian maple leaf. The Thunderbird motif was designed by Native American artist Rick Harry (Xwa Lack Tun). Please see the articles below for more information about the Thunderbird and the artist.

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For more information on the inukshuk, the official symbol of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics (and symbol of the Territory of Nunavut), please see the article lower on this page.

For type collectors, please note that the following portraits of Queen Elizabeth II have appeared on Silver Maple Leaf coins:

  1988-1989  2nd effigy by Arnold Machin
  1990-2003  3rd effigy by Dora de Pédery-Hunt
  2004-pres.  4th effigy by Susanna Blunt

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Canada 2009 Olympic Thunderbird SML both sides

The Legend of the Thunderbird

A Thunderbird on a totem pole of the Pacific NorthwestThe Thunderbird is a legendary creature in North American indigenous peoples' history and culture. It is considered a supernatural being, greater and stronger than nearly all other creatures. The Thunderbird's home is at the top of Black Tusk, where it sits and surveys the world. So potent is this mythic bird that high winds result when it flaps its wings, lighting flashes when it merely blinks its eyes, and thunder explodes for miles around when its wings collide!

The Thunderbird is especially important, and richly depicted, in the art, songs and oral histories of many Pacific Northwest Coast cultures, but is also found in various forms among the peoples of the American Southwest and Great Plains. The totem of the Thunderbird is one of great power and auspiciousness, not to be taken lightly. For more information on totems and totem poles, please see the presentation lower on the page.

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About the Artist - Rick Harry (Xwa Lack Tun)
Rick Harry, whose native name is Xwa Lack Tun, is an aboriginal (American Indian) artist. He is a sculptor of international reputation, having been recognized for projects with galleries, corporations and private clients across North America (such as the carving of the double yellow cedar doors at the head office of BC Hydro in Vancouver, BC.).

Harry was born and raised in Squamish, British Columbia, and received formal art training at Capilano College and the Emily Carr Institute. His Coast Salish and Kwakiutl heritage informs all of his work. Harry's art focuses on how the traditional Native American stories, lore, legends and beliefs relate to our day-to-day lives, and how this traditional knowledge can assist us in healing ourselves and leading more productive and fulfilling lives. Respect for all people, regardless of race or religion, is a central theme for Xwa Lack Tun.

The images below offer a rare and intimate glimpse behind the scenes, showing the artistic process from beginning to end, starting with conceptual drawings, progressing to full-scale models, and ending in the finished sculpture. Along the way Rick Harry enjoys a little traditional music of his own making to lighten up and inspire the artistic endeavor.

Artist Rick Harry Creates Small Concept DrawingsArtist Rick Harry begins the full scale modelArtist Rick Harry drawing
Artist Rick Harry coloring the modelArtist Rick Harry working on the detailed spirit drawingArtist Rick Harry's carved plaque
Artist Rick Harry enjoys some down timeArtist Rick Harry is a musical artist as wellArtist Rick Harry's finished sculpture

Technology Note
The Royal Canadian Mint refines the purest silver in the world. This one ounce silver coin is 99.99% pure!

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The Specimen Finish
This coin features the uniquely-Canadian "specimen" finish, a three-fold combination of different finishes. The design (raised area or relief) includes both brilliant and mirrored surfaces, while the fields (background) are subtly striated, resulting in a contrasting, matte appearance. No other mint in the world employs the specimen finish.

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A Native American Thunderbird totem, designed by Coast Salish and Kwakiutl artist Xwa Lack Tun (Rick Harry). Eleven maple leaves swirl in the breeze generated by its wings. The legends FINE SILVER 1 OZ and 9999 guarantee the weight and purity.


Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England, in profile facing right. This portrait, the fourth effigy of the queen to appear on Canadian coinage, was executed by the artist Susanna Blunt. To the left is the official logo of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, with the Olympic rings and the legend VANCOUVER 2010.The date, denomination and the legend ELIZABETH II also appear.

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Country Canada
Year of Issue 2009
Face Value 5 Dollars
Weight 31.39 g
Diameter 38 mm
Finish Specimen
Composition .9999 Fine (Pure) Silver
Edge Reeded (milled, serrated)
Artist Rick Harry (Xwa Lack Tun)
Packaging Archival Quality Mylar Holder

Totems and Totem Poles
Two Native American Totem Poles from ThunderbirdTwo Native American Totem Poles from Thunderbird Park, Victoria, British Columbia: a Gitxsan pole on th Park, British Columbia: a Gitxsan pole on the left and a Kwakwaka'wakw Pole on the right According to the beliefs of some of North America's aboriginal peoples, every person has a “totem” - an animal, plant or inanimate object with whom s/he shares special characteristics. These traits define one's personal identity within a family and clan.

Totem poles are monumental sculptures carved from giant trees, where each image represents a certain totem. Along the coast of the Pacific Northwest, where tribes had easy access to the immense western red cedar, artists began carving groups of totems onto massive logs. Chiefs often commissioned totem poles to reveal the power of their families for all to see. Imagine the impression made by a 70 foot high totem pole towering overhead! Raising a totem pole was a major undertaking for a tribe that was celebrated with song, drum and dance.

When the fur traders and their iron tools arrived on the west coast, the carving of totem poles soared to new heights. Now you can make this unique art form a significant part of your collection with this stunning sterling silver coin. Its proof finish perfectly enhances its high relief, while no legends mar the obverse, allowing the powerful design to stand on its own!

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InukshukLandmark in a Barren Land
An inukshuk (plural form: inuksuit; singular form often pronounced inutsuk in certain Inuit dialects) is a stone landmark used as a milestone or directional marker by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. Inuksuit have become the de facto symbol of the Territory of Nunavut since its establishment on April 1, 1999. An inukshuk can even be found on the official flag of the territory.

Inuksuit differ from some cairns in significance. The Arctic Circle, dominated by permafrost, has few natural landmarks and thus the inukshuk was central to navigation across the barren tundra. They vary in shape and size, and perform a diverse array of tasks. It is a symbol with deep roots in the Inuit culture, a directional marker that signifies safety, hope and friendship. As time goes by more and more Canadians of non-Inuit origin are adopting this uniquely Canadian symbol as one of their own.

Official Flag of the Territory of Nunavut

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