Indian head pennies were produced from 1859 to 1909, when they were replaced by the familiar Lincoln cent of today. They are primarily made of copper. Older ones include small amounts of nickel. Later ones use a bit of tin or zinc.
These pennies do not depict a Native American. Rather, it is Lady Liberty wearing a man’s Native headdress. The argument was that Liberty’s usual Phrygian cap was more a symbol of the freed slave than the independent freeman. It was argued “the featured tiara is as characteristic of the primitive races of our hemisphere, as the turban is of the Asiatic” and that it was more appropriate to represent those who “were never in bondage to any man.” One can only assume the writer to have a very romantic view of Native Americans.