Lewis and Clark Expedition with Sacagawea

May 6, 2021
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Sacagawea Statue (Clatsop County, Oregon scenic images) (clatDA0087)


1788 Lemhi river Valley

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Sacagawea summary: Real and accurate information regarding the history of Sacagawea is hard to find. The Salmon Eater or Agaidika tribe was who she was born into. At the age of twelve (1800) she was kidnapped by a group of Hidatsa and the battle that provoked it caused the death of four women, four men and several boys from the Shoshone tribe. She was then taken to what is now Washburn, North Dakota.

During the winter of 1804 Lewis and Clark interviewed several men to hire a guide. Sacagawea was pregnant for the first time and was married to Charbonneau. Charbonneau was hired because of his wife who spoke Shoshone because Lewis and Clark knew they would need help from these tribes.

She was given the nickname of Janey by Clark and delivered her son, Jean Baptiste on 2/11/1805. In April of the same year the expedition headed out. One of their boats capsized and Sacagawea was quick enough to rescue several items including the important records and journals Lewis and Clark kept. For this reason the Sacagawea River was named after her in May of that year.

During a negotiation for horses to cross the Rockies it was discovered that the chief they were negotiating with was Sacagawea’s brother. Often people make the misconception she was integral to guiding and while this was an important role, many also believe the fact an Indian woman traveled with these men helped to keep them from being seen as a threat.

An icon to American History, Sacagawea was an integral part of the Lewis and Clark expedition and legend. She has been used as a symbol for women’s rights more than once, including as part of the National American Woman Suffrage Association during the early part of the twentieth century. There have been countless plaques and statues erected in her memory.

Sacagawea: Assisted the Lewis and Clark Expedition

The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-06 was the fulfillment of a longtime dream of Thomas Jefferson, and the success of that incredible enterprise owes much to its two leaders, the scientific-minded Meriwether Lewis and the more practical-minded William Clark. What their Corps of Discovery accomplished–essentially opening up all the possibilities of the vast trans-Mississippi West to the people of the United States–has rightly been called one of the great feats of exploration. But Lewis and Clark did not do it alone. Their most famous assistant during the transcontinental trek was a young Indian woman whose life remains largely a mystery but whose legend lives on as strong as ever–Sacagawea.

Many know her better as Sacajawea (and some know her as Sakakawea). ‘Among scholars there’s a preferred spelling [Sacagawea], said Lewis and Clark scholar James P. Ronda during an interview that appeared in the August 1999 Wild West Magazine, but there is never going to be a preferred spelling among the general public. In any case, hers is a Hidatsa name and was translated by Captains Lewis and Clark as Bird Woman.

Early twentieth-century historians tended to glorify her role, writes Harold P. Howard in his 1971 book Sacajawea. More recent writers are inclined to minimize her contribution, and even to adopt a somewhat scornful view of her assistance to the explorers. The truth no doubt lies somewhere in between. It certainly was not the Sacagawea Expedition; she did not guide Captains Lewis and Clark all the way to the Pacific Ocean. But she did know some of the geography they passed through, and she did interpret for them when they came across Shoshone-speaking Indians. Her accomplishments have not been overlooked by the U.S. government. A Sacagawea one-dollar coin (if you see it spelled Saca-jawea, you can assume it’s a counterfeit) is expected to replace the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin in the year 2000.

The Corps of Discovery left Camp Dubois, outside St. Louis, on May 14, 1804, but Sacagawea only became part of the picture in November, after the explorers made winter camp at Fort Mandan in present-day North Dakota. The two captains hired her husband, the French-Canadian fur trapper Toussaint Charbonneau, as an interpreter, with the understanding that she would come along to interpret the Shoshone language. Sacagawea was only about 16 and pregnant.

Her people were the Lemhi Shoshones, who made their home in what is now southeastern Idaho and southwestern Montana. About 1800 she was captured by a Hidatsa raiding party at the Three Forks of the Missouri River. Sometime in 1804, she and another woman were purchased by middle-aged Charbonneau, who lived among the Hidatsa and Mandan Indians, to be his wives. Eight weeks before Lewis and Clark and company departed their camp on the upper Missouri, Sacagawea gave birth to her first child. The boy was named Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, but he was more often called Pompey or Pomp. When the Corps of Discovery continued upriver in early April 1805, Toussaint Charbonneau and Sacagawea were part of the team, and so was Pomp, whom his mother carried on a cradleboard.

Source: www.historynet.com
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