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The Life of Sacajewea

Updated: Jan 15

This work is about the life of Sacajewea (c. 1788 – 1812), a young American Indian Shoshoni women, born in Lemhi County, Idaho. In 1805-1806, Sacajewea was acting as an interpreter and guide on the Lewis and Clarke Expedition, in their exploration of the Western United States. She traveled thousands of miles, from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean during this time, becoming famous for her incredible journey.


Her skills as a translator were invaluable, as was her intimate knowledge of some difficult terrain. Perhaps the most significant was her calming presence towards both the expeditioners and the Native Americans they encountered, who might have otherwise been hostile to the strangers. Remarkably, Sacajawea did it all while caring for the son she bore just two months before departing.


After reaching the Pacific, Sacajawea returned with the rest of the Corps and her husband and

son—having survived illness, flash floods, temperature extremes, food shortages, mosquito swarms and so much more—to their starting point, the Hidatsa-Mandan settlement, on August 14, 1806. For his service Charbonneau received 320 acres of land and $500.33. Sacajawea however, received no compensation.


Today, some scholars contend that the romanticized versions of the Sacajawea “legend” popularized before and after the publication of Dye’s novel do the real woman a disservice, as her true legacy of accomplishments speaks for itself.


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