The Golden Dollar's "heads" side features the Indian guide of the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition, Sacagawea. She is portrayed in three-quarter profile. Glenna Goodacre, the obverse's artist, goes against numismatic tradition by having the portrait look straight at the holder. Goodacre's model is a present-day Shoshone college student, Randy'L He-dow Teton. The obverse also shows on Sacagawea carrying on her back Jean Baptiste, her infant son.
With the aim of complementing the obverse, the selected reverse design features a soaring eagle encircled by 17 stars. The 17 stars symbolize each Union state members during the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition.