Manataka American Indian Council


 

SACAJAWEA
"THE BIRD WOMAN"

 

 

Sacajawea (Sak-a-ja-we'-ah), a young indian woman of the great Lemhi Shoshone was born about 1787 in the Snake River Country, what is today southern Idaho.  She was to become famous around the world. 

Sometime between the age of ten and fourteen, she was captured by a Hidatsa war party, a hostile Minnetaree tribe from the east in North Dakota.  Suddenly there was shouting and screaming in the Shoshoni camp.  To her horror she saw the Hidatsa warriors killing her people. They rounded up the survivors and took them away to the Minnetaree village.  Many weeks later, after a long and dangerous journey, they arrived a the Hidatsa village of the Minnetaree.  She was given a new name.  Sakaa-ja-wiija, meaning "Bird Woman". 

For more than three years, she worked hard in the Hidatsa village.   Then one day, Sacajawea learned that she had been traded to a French Canadian fur trader, Toussaint Charbonneau.  He was nearly three times older than Sacajawea and had lived among the Minnetarees and Mandans for several years.

At about the same time in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson completed the purchase of the Louisiana Territories from Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the French for 15 million dollars.  The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of what was then the United States.  Meriwether Lewis, the President's young private secretary of thirty years old, and his friend Captain William Clark, along with other teams were appointed by the President to explore the vast wilderness west of the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

They planned to travel up the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains in hopes to find a river which would empty into the Pacific Ocean.  On November 3, 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, called "The Corps of Discovery" arrived in Hadatsa territory.  They built Fort Mandan across the river from the Minnetarees and Mandan villages.

It was there they engaged Toussaint Charbonneau as an interpreter and guide.  Sacajawea had just given birth to her son on February 11, 1805.  Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, but everybody called him "Pompey" which meant Little Chief.  She went along with the party of explorers, carrying her papoose on her back, anxious and hoping to return to her own people, who ranged from Three Forks, Montana, westward into Idaho.  It was not long after Sacajawea, and not her husband, who became the unofficial guide to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Charbonneau was loud, lazy and a rough man. 

On April 7, 1805  the expedition left Fort Mandan, near what is known today as Bismark, North Dakota.  Sacajawea and her son are mentioned almost daily in the explorer's famous journal.  The Captains and several of their men wrote in meticulous details each days events and discoveries in their journals.  They wrote about her sacrifices, perserverance, and  heroic deeds.  There was hunger and feasting.  There was bitter cold in the "Shining Mountains" as the Rocky Mountains were called by the Shoshoni.  Carrying her son on her back, Sacajawea led the team of explorers through uncharted terrain.  Clad in doe-skin, and the only woman in the party, Sacajawea was unafraid walking hundreds of miles.  She saved the men from starvation in the bitter cold winter and healed them with herbs and roots. 

She sat in at Tribal Council meetings with the Chiefs, as no Indian woman had done before, negotiating for food and supplies.  She spoke several languages and served as interpreter to the Captains.  Sacajawea was a quite woman.  She seldom complained and as long as she was given a few trinkets to wear, she was happy.   She gained the respect and admiration of the men in the expedition. 

When the party reached Three Forks, Montana, Sacajawea met her own people and learned that her brother, Cameahwait, had become a Headman of a Shoshoni village.  She was able to obtain aid and ponies from her people, without which the party would not have been able to continue. 

On October 30, 1805 they arrived on the shores of the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia River.  They had passed through many Indian territories on their journey westward.  Sioux, Anikaras, Shoshoni, Nez Perce, Blackfoot, Skillots, Flatheads, Chinook and Clatsops to name a few.

At one of their encampments, Fort Clatsops, they met a Chinook Chief Comowool.  He was wearing the most beautiful robe the Captains had ever seen.  It was made entirely of the skins of white otter.  They wanted to trade for the robe as a gift for President Jefferson.  But, Comowool would not accept anything the Captains were willing to trade.  He kept staring at the blue beaded belt that Sacajawea was wearing.  She had received it years before from her mother.  Blue beads were like gold to the Indian.  He wanted the belt.  Without hesitation, Sacajawea handed the Comowool her belt in trade for the precious robe for the Great White Father in Washington.   

On March 23, 1806, the Captains gave Fort Clatsop and everything in it to Comowool and started on the long journey home. On August 14, 1806, they arrived back at the Mandan villages, after two and one half years.  Charbonneau was paid five hundred dollars, good wages for the time.  He was last heard of in 1839, when he was about 80 years old and showed up at the Indian Affairs Office in St. Louis and asked the superintendent for his back pay as interpreter to  the Mandans.  Sacajawea was paid nothing for her services, she was simply Charbonneau's wife.

Pompey was sent to Europe to be educated as promised by the red-headed Captain Clark.  When he was 18, be became friends with a German Prince, who was visiting America and traveled with him in Europe for six years.  What became of Sacajawea remains a mystery. 

Most historians agree on April 12, 1811 Sacajawea set out with Charbonneau on a Missouri River expedition. She later settled at a fur trading post, not fare from where she joined the Lewis and Clark Expedition nearly seven years earlier.  A fur trader reported her death on December 20, 1812 of fever.  But in 1875 a missionary found an old woman among the Shoshoni who claimed to be Sacajawea, now nearly 100 years old.  She died near Fort Washakie in Wyoming on April 9, 1884. 

We will never know for certain, but we do know that the country Sacajawea helped explore will never forget her.  There are more statutes erected in her honor than any other woman in American history, yet Sacajawea had no idea that her leadership would some day inspire awe and admiration.   There are at least three mountains, two lakes and twenty-four monuments named after her today.


 

THE TRUTH ABOUT SACAJAWEA

by Kenneth Thomasma

Here is the first book ever to tell the eyewitness truth about Sacajawea. Author, Ken Thomasma went to the two million words written by Lewis and Clark and their men describing everyday of their epic journey to the Pacific Ocean. Ken took every entry made about Sacajawea and her infant son, Pompy, and paraphrased the entry. Ken adds a commentary after each entry and gives and update on the expedition. With THE TRUTH ABOUT SACAJAWEA the reader will understand exactly what the teenage Shoshoni mother contributed to the success of the United States Army's Corps of Discovery. This is the book used by the United States Treasury Department to help develop the new circulating Sacajawea Golden Dollar Coin. Ken made several trips to Washington, DC, once to the United States Mint with others to pick the design of the dollar coin, and a second trip to join hundreds of people on the south lawn of the White House to celebrate the unveiling of the design of the new dollar by the First Lady, Hillary Clinton. THE TRUTH ABOUT SACAJAWEA also gives the reader a quick overview of the entire Lewis and Clark Expedition in just ninety-six pages. Grandview Publishing Company; September 1998, Soft Cover, $12.95 

Proceeds from book purchases go to support the nonprofit, cultural, educational and religious purposes of the Manataka American Indian Council.  Thank you for your support.

Notice: Occasionally books may be discontinued or out of stock without prior notice. With written permission, your order may be filled from the 'shelf'.  Shelf books are new, but some may be slightly discolored or sale tags may be still attached. Fulfillment rate: 98.6%.

 


 

SACAJAWEA: HER TRUE STORY
by Rich Haney

A superb and important biography.

SACAJAWEA: Her True Story is a stunning new book. It is a beautfully written and starkly documented biography of America's all-time most memorialized female. It is also vitally important because it defines when (1884) and where (Wyoming) Sacajawea died and where (Wyoming's Wind River Reservation) she is buried. This is in sharp contrast to noted historians such as Steven Ambrose who claim Sacajawea died in 1812 in South Dakota. I defy Ambrose or anyone else to challenge Mr. Haney's conclusions and documentations. Like him, I have long considered Sacajawea my favorite historical figure, especially since I am now daily reminded of her because of her latest memorial, the Year 2000 Golden Sacajawea Dollar Coin. Thus, I have waited for such a book, and I treasure it. It makes me wonder if anointed historians, such as Ambrose, can get away with murder along with their dispensing of usually unchallenged misinformation. Xlibris Corporation; January 2000, Soft Cover, 159pp  $18.95

Proceeds from book purchases go to support the nonprofit, cultural, educational and religious purposes of the Manataka American Indian Council.  Thank you for your support.

Notice: Occasionally books may be discontinued or out of stock without prior notice. With written permission, your order may be filled from the 'shelf'.  Shelf books are new, but some may be slightly discolored or sale tags may be still attached. Fulfillment rate: 98.6%.

 


 

SACAJAWEA
by Anna L. Waldo

Clad in a doeskin, alone and unafraid, she stood straight and proud before the onrushing forces of America's destiny: Sacajawea, child of a Shoshoni chief, lone woman on Lewis and Clark's historic trek — beautiful spear of a dying nation.

She knew many men, walked many miles. From the whispering prairies, across the Great Divide to the crystal capped Rockies and on to the emerald promise of the Pacific Northwest, her story over flows with emotion and action ripped from the bursting fabric of a raw new land.

Ten years in the writing, SACAJAWEA unfolds an immense canvas of people and events, and captures the eternal longings of a woman who always yearned for one great passion — and always it lay beyond the next mountain. Avon Publishers. July 1984, Soft Cover, 1,424pp  $18.95

Proceeds from book purchases go to support the nonprofit, cultural, educational and religious purposes of the Manataka American Indian Council.  Thank you for your support.

Notice: Occasionally books may be discontinued or out of stock without prior notice. With written permission, your order may be filled from the 'shelf'.  Shelf books are new, but some may be slightly discolored or sale tags may be still attached. Fulfillment rate: 98.6%.

 

 

 


 

 

 

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — A bronze statue of Sacajawea was erected in a cemetery near Fort Washakie where the famous guide to Lewis and Clark is rumored to be buried.


L.M. “Bud’’ Boller, Jr., of Dubois, sculpted the statue, which was installed May 24, 2003
Sacajawea statue in Salmon, Idaho. It shows the Shoshone woman at age 17, standing on the Pacific coast in Washington State.


She is barefoot, holding her buckskin dress above the water, and examining a sand dollar she found. Boller said it is the same sand dollar that would later be worn around the neck of Chief Washakie.  The statue was commissioned several years ago by the Eastern Shoshone.


It was blessed after being installed, but a formal dedication ceremony is not planned until June, Eastern Shoshone Business Council Chairman Vernon Hill said.


“We’re talking like we might dedicate it around the annual Eastern Shoshone Indian Days, but that hasn’t been decided yet,’’ he said.  Sacajawea is rumored to be buried at the cemetery between her son, Baptiste Charbonneau, and her nephew, Bazil, whom she adopted.  The statue stands west of her alleged grave site.

 

 

EMAIL          HOME          INDEX          TRADING POST