The $2 1/2 Gold Indian Shares a rather unique story with it's sibling coin, the $5 gold Indian, which is nearly identical in design, but double the metal content. The story begins with then President Theodore Roosevelt, who took an acute interest in changing the currency coins of the United States to reflect the power, technology, and wealth of his great nation. Roosevelt felt that the current coins lacked the beauty and sophistication that should be present in the mintings of the United States.
Roosevelt had commissioned his sculptor friend Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create a new design for the $20 Double Eagle, and Roosevelt was quite pleased with Saint-Gaudens' work. Had Saint-Gaudens not died of cancer in 1907, chances are that the $2 1/2 coin and $5 coin would probably be similar in design to the $20 Double Eagle design.
In fact, the assumption at the was time was that Saint-Gaudens' work would be adapted to the smaller coins, however, a Congressional act had been passed that mandated that each legal tender coin bare several inscriptions including "United States Of America" and "E Pluribus Unum", and it was expected that new legislation would also require the motto "In God We Trust" . Whether it was opposition from the U.S. Mint (There was dissent between Saint-Gaudens and then Mint Director George E. Roberts) or truly a difficulty in scaling down the design of the $20 Double Eagle or $10 Eagle for use on the $2 1/2 coin, also known as the Quarter-Eagle, eventually a new design was ordered. Since Saint-Gauden's had passed, the assignment of creating a new design was tasked to Bela Lyon Pratt, a protege of Saint-Gaudens, and the Indian Coin was born.