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Detail Lewis & Clark at Three Forks.jpg
Sacagawea (right) with Lewis and Clark at the Three Forks, mural at Montana House of Representatives
BornMay 1788
Lemhi River Valley,
near present-day Salmon, Idaho
DiedDecember 20, 1812 (aged 24) or April 9, 1884 (aged 95)
Nationality Lemhi Shoshone
Other namesSakakawea, Sacajawea
Known forAccompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Spouse(s) Toussaint Charbonneau

Sacagawea ( /səˌkɑːɡəˈwə/ ; also Sakakawea or Sacajawea; May 1788 – December 20, 1812) was a Lemhi Shoshone woman who is known for her help to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in achieving their chartered mission objectives by exploring the Louisiana Territory.

Lemhi Shoshone

The Lemhi Shoshone are a tribe of Northern Shoshone, called the Akaitikka, Agaidika, or "Eaters of Salmon". The name "Lemhi" comes from Fort Lemhi, a Mormon mission to this group. They traditionally lived in the Lemhi River Valley and along the upper Salmon River in Idaho. Bands were very fluid and nomadic, and they often interacted with and intermarried other bands of Shoshone and other tribes, such as the Bannock. Today most of them are enrolled in the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation of Idaho.

Lewis and Clark Expedition American overland expedition to the Pacific coast

The Lewis and Clark Expedition from May 1804 to September 1806, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross the western portion of the United States. It began in Pittsburgh, Pa, made its way westward, and passed through the Continental Divide of the Americas to reach the Pacific coast. The Corps of Discovery was a selected group of US Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark.

Louisiana Territory

The Territory of Louisiana or Louisiana Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1805, until June 4, 1812, when it was renamed the Missouri Territory.


Sacagawea traveled with the expedition thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean. She helped establish cultural contacts with Native American populations in addition to her contributions to natural history.

North Dakota State of the United States of America

North Dakota is a U.S. state in the midwestern and northern regions of the United States. It is the nineteenth largest in area, the fourth smallest by population, and the fourth most sparsely populated of the 50 states. North Dakota was admitted to the Union on November 3, 1889, along with its neighboring state, South Dakota. Its capital is Bismarck, and its largest city is Fargo.

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2003. [1]

National Womens Hall of Fame

The National Women's Hall of Fame is an American institution created in 1969 by a group of people in Seneca Falls, New York, the location of the 1848 women's rights convention.

Cultural significance

Sacagawea is known to have been an important member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The National American Woman Suffrage Association of the early twentieth century adopted her as a symbol of women's worth and independence, erecting several statues and plaques in her memory, and doing much to spread the story of her accomplishments. [2]

National American Woman Suffrage Association organization

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was an organization formed on February 18, 1890 to advocate in favor of women's suffrage in the United States. It was created by the merger of two existing organizations, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). Its membership, which was about seven thousand at the time it was formed, eventually increased to two million, making it the largest voluntary organization in the nation. It played a pivotal role in the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which in 1920 guaranteed women's right to vote.

I n 1977, she was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2001, she was given the title of Honorary Sergeant, Regular Army, by then-president Bill Clinton. [3]

Fort Worth, Texas City in Texas, United States

Fort Worth is a city in the U.S. state of Texas. It is the 15th-largest city in the United States and fifth-largest city in Texas. It is the county seat of Tarrant County, covering nearly 350 square miles (910 km2) into four other counties: Denton, Johnson, Parker, and Wise. According to the 2017 census estimates, Fort Worth's population is 874,168. Fort Worth is the second-largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington metropolitan area, which is the 4th most populous metropolitan area in the United States.

Bill Clinton 42nd president of the United States

William Jefferson Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Prior to the presidency, he was the governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981, and again from 1983 to 1992, and the attorney general of Arkansas from 1977 to 1979. A member of the Democratic Party, Clinton was ideologically a New Democrat, and many of his policies reflected a centrist "Third Way" political philosophy.


Reliable historical information about Sacagawea is very limited. She was born into an Agaidika (Salmon Eater) of Lemhi Shoshone tribe between Kenney Creek and Agency Creek near Salmon, Idaho, in Lemhi County.[ citation needed ] In 1800, when she was about twelve years old, she and several other girls were kidnapped by a group of Hidatsa in a battle that resulted in the deaths of several Shoshone: four men, four women, and several boys. She was held captive at a Hidatsa village near present-day Washburn, North Dakota. [4]

The Shoshone or Shoshoni are a Native American tribe with four large cultural/linguistic divisions:

Salmon, Idaho City in Idaho, United States

Salmon is a city in Lemhi County, Idaho, United States. The population was 3,112 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Lemhi County.

Idaho State of the United States of America

Idaho is a state in the northwestern region of the United States. It borders the state of Montana to the east and northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west. To the north, it shares a small portion of the Canadian border with the province of British Columbia. With a population of approximately 1.7 million and an area of 83,569 square miles (216,440 km2), Idaho is the 14th largest, the 12th least populous and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. The state's capital and largest city is Boise.

At about age thirteen, Sacagawea was sold into a nonconsensual marriage to Toussaint Charbonneau, a Quebecois trapper living in the village. He had also bought another young Shoshone, known as Otter Woman, as his wife. Charbonneau was variously reported to have purchased both girls to be his wives from the Hidatsa or to have won Sacagawea while gambling. [4]

The Lewis and Clark expedition

Sacagawea was pregnant with her first child when the Corps of Discovery arrived near the Hidatsa villages to spend the winter of 1804–05. Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark built Fort Mandan. They interviewed several trappers who might be able to interpret or guide the expedition up the Missouri River in the springtime. They agreed to hire Charbonneau as an interpreter because they discovered his wife spoke Shoshone, and they knew they would need the help of Shoshone tribes at the headwaters of the Missouri.

Clark recorded in his journal [lower-alpha 1] on November 4, 1804:

a french man by Name Chabonah, who Speaks the Big Belley language visit us, he wished to hire & informed us his 2 Squars (squaws) were Snake Indians, we engau (engaged) him to go on with us and take one of his wives to interpret the Snake language  ... [6]

Charbonneau and Sacagawea moved into the expedition's fort a week later. Clark nicknamed her "Janey." [lower-alpha 2] Lewis recorded the birth of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau on February 11, 1805, noting that another of the party's interpreters administered crushed rattlesnake rattles to speed the delivery. Clark and other European Americans nicknamed the boy "Little Pomp" or "Pompy."

In April, the expedition left Fort Mandan and headed up the Missouri River in pirogues . They had to be poled against the current and sometimes pulled from the riverbanks. On May 14, 1805, Sacagawea rescued items that had jumped out of a capsized boat, including the journals and records of Lewis and Clark. The corps commanders, who praised her quick action, named the Sacagawea River in her honor on May 20, 1805. By August 1805, the corps had located a Shoshone tribe and was attempting to trade for horses to cross the Rocky Mountains. They used Sacagawea to interpret and discovered that the tribe's chief, Cameahwait, was her brother.

Lewis and Clark reach the Shosone camp led by Sacagawea. Lewis and Clark Reach Shoshone Camp Led by Sacajawea.jpg
Lewis and Clark reach the Shosone camp led by Sacagawea.

Lewis recorded their reunion in his journal:

Shortly after Capt. Clark arrived with the Interpreter Charbono, and the Indian woman, who proved to be a sister of the Chief Cameahwait. The meeting of those people was really affecting, particularly between Sah cah-gar-we-ah and an Indian woman, who had been taken prisoner at the same time with her, and who had afterwards escaped from the Minnetares and rejoined her nation. [7]

And Clark in his:

... The Intertrepeter & Squar who were before me at Some distance danced for the joyful Sight, and She made signs to me that they were her nation ... [7]

The Shoshone agreed to barter horses to the group, and to provide guides to lead them over the cold and barren Rocky Mountains. The trip was so hard that they were reduced to eating tallow candles to survive. When they descended into the more temperate regions on the other side, Sacagawea helped to find and cook camas roots to help them regain their strength.

As the expedition approached the mouth of the Columbia River on the Pacific Coast, Sacagawea gave up her beaded belt to enable the captains to trade for a fur robe they wished to give to President Thomas Jefferson.

Clark's journal entry for November 20, 1805, reads:

one of the Indians had on a roab made of 2 Sea Otter Skins the fur of them were more butifull than any fur I had ever Seen both Capt. Lewis & my Self endeavored to purchase the roab with different articles at length we precured it for a belt of blue beeds which the Squar—wife of our interpreter Shabono wore around her waste. ... [8] [ sic ]

A painting of Lewis and Clark Expedition titled Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia by Charles Marion Russell depicting Sacagawea with arms outstretched Lewis and clark-expedition.jpg
A painting of Lewis and Clark Expedition titled Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia by Charles Marion Russell depicting Sacagawea with arms outstretched

When the corps reached the Pacific Ocean, all members of the expeditionincluding Sacagawea and Clark's black manservant York voted on November 24 on the location for building their winter fort. In January, when a whale's carcass washed up onto the beach south of Fort Clatsop, Sacagawea insisted on her right to go see this "monstrous fish."

On the return trip, they approached the Rocky Mountains in July 1806. On July 6, Clark recorded "The Indian woman informed me that she had been in this plain frequently and knew it well ... She said we would discover a gap in the mountains in our direction ..." (which is now Gibbons Pass). A week later, on July 13, Sacagawea advised Clark to cross into the Yellowstone River basin at what is now known as Bozeman Pass. Later, this was chosen as the optimal route for the Northern Pacific Railway to cross the continental divide.

While Sacagawea has been depicted as a guide for the expedition, [9] she is recorded as providing direction in only a few instances. Her work as an interpreter certainly helped the party to negotiate with the Shoshone; however, her greatest value to the mission may have been simply her presence during the arduous journey, which demonstrated the peaceful intent of the expedition. While traveling through what is now Franklin County, Washington, Clark noted, "The Indian woman confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter," and, "the wife of Shabono our interpeter we find reconsiles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions a woman with a party of men is a token of peace." [10]

As he traveled downriver from Fort Mandan at the end of the journey, Clark wrote to Charbonneau:

You have been a long time with me and conducted your Self in Such a manner as to gain my friendship, your woman who accompanied you that long dangerous and fatigueing rout to the Pacific Ocian and back diserved a greater reward for her attention and services on that rout than we had in our power to give her at the Mandans. As to your little Son (my boy Pomp) you well know my fondness of him and my anxiety to take him and raise him as my own child ... If you are desposed to accept either of my offers to you and will bring down you Son your famn [femme, woman] Janey had best come along with you to take care of the boy untill I get him ... Wishing you and your family great success & with anxious expectations of seeing my little danceing boy Baptiest I shall remain your Friend, William Clark [11] [ sic ]

Later life and death

After the expedition, Charbonneau and Sacagawea spent three years among the Hidatsa before accepting William Clark's invitation to settle in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1809. They entrusted Jean-Baptiste's education to Clark, who enrolled the young man in the Saint Louis Academy boarding school. Sacagawea gave birth to a daughter, Lizette, sometime after 1810.

According to Bonnie "Spirit Wind-Walker" Butterfield, historical documents suggest Sacagawea died in 1812 of an unknown sickness:

Sakakawea obelisk at the believed site of her death, Mobridge, South Dakota, 2003 SacagaweaPhilKonstantin.jpg
Sakakawea obelisk at the believed site of her death, Mobridge, South Dakota, 2003

An 1811 journal entry made by Henry Brackenridge, a fur dealer at Fort Manuel Lisa Trading Post on the Missouri River, stated that, both, Sacagawea and Charbonneau were living at the fort. He recorded that Sacagawea "...had become sickly and longed to revisit her native country." The following year, John Luttig, a clerk at Fort Manuel Lisa, recorded in his journal on December 20, 1812, that: "...the wife of Charbonneau, a Snake Squaw [the common term used to denote Shoshone Indians], died of putrid fever." He went on to say that she was "aged about 25 years. She left a fine infant girl". [12] Documents held by Clark show that her son Baptiste already had been entrusted by Charbonneau into Clark's care for a boarding school education, at Clark's insistence (Jackson, 1962). [13]

A few months later, 15 men were killed in an Indian attack on Fort Lisa, then located at the mouth of the Bighorn River. [12] John Luttig and Sacagawea's young daughter were among the survivors. Toussaint Charbonneau was mistakenly thought to have been killed at this time, but he apparently lived to at least age 76. He had signed over formal custody of his son to William Clark in 1813. [14]

As further proof that Sacagawea died in 1812, Butterfield writes:

An adoption document made in the Orphans Court Records in St. Louis, Missouri, states, 'On August 11, 1813, William Clark became the guardian of 'Tousant Charbonneau, a boy about ten years, and Lizette Charbonneau, a girl about one year old.' For a Missouri State Court at the time, to designate a child as orphaned and to allow an adoption, both parents had to be confirmed dead in court papers.

The last recorded document citing Sacagawea's existence appears in William Clark's original notes written between 1825 and 1826. He lists the names of each of the expedition members and their last known whereabouts. For Sacagawea he writes: "Se car ja we au— Dead." (Jackson, 1962). [13]

Some American Indian oral traditions relate that rather than dying in 1812, Sacagawea left her husband Charbonneau, crossed the Great Plains, and married into a Comanche tribe.[ citation needed ] She was said to have returned to the Shoshone in Wyoming in 1860, where she died in 1884. [15]


The question of Sacagawea's final resting place caught the attention of national suffragists seeking voting rights for women, according to author Raymond Wilson. [16] Wilson argues that Sacagawea became a role model whom suffragettes pointed to "with pride." Wilson goes on to note:

Interest in Sacajawea peaked and controversy intensified when Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard, professor of political economy at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and an active supporter of the Nineteenth Amendment, campaigned for federal legislation to erect an edifice honoring Sacajawea's death in 1884. [16]

Marker of Sacajawea's assumed grave, Fort Washakie, Wyoming SacagaweaGravePhilKonstantin.jpg
Marker of Sacajawea's assumed grave, Fort Washakie, Wyoming

In 1925, Dr. Charles Eastman, a Dakota Sioux physician, was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to locate Sacagawea's remains. Eastman visited many different Native American tribes, to interview elderly individuals who might have known or heard of Sacagawea, and learned of a Shoshone woman at the Wind River Reservation with the Comanche name Porivo (chief woman). Some of the people he interviewed said that she spoke of a long journey wherein she had helped white men, and that she had a silver Jefferson peace medal of the type carried by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He found a Comanche woman called Tacutine who said that Porivo was her grandmother. She had married into a Comanche tribe and had a number of children, including Tacutine's father Ticannaf. Porivo left the tribe after her husband Jerk-Meat was killed. [17]

According to these narratives, Porivo lived for some time at Fort Bridger in Wyoming with her sons Bazil and Baptiste, who each knew several languages, including English and French. Eventually, she found her way back to the Lemhi Shoshone at the Wind River Indian Reservation, where she was recorded as "Bazil's mother". [17] This woman, Porivo is believed to have died on April 9, 1884. [18] [ citation needed ]

It was Eastman's conclusion that Porivo was Sacagawea. [19] In 1963, a monument to "Sacajawea of the Shoshonis" was erected at Fort Washakie on the Wind River reservation near Lander, Wyoming, on the basis of this claim. [20]

The belief that Sacagawea lived to old age and died in Wyoming was widely disseminated in the United States in the biography Sacajawea (1933) by University of Wyoming professor and historian Grace Raymond Hebard. Critics have called into question Hebard's 30 years of research, which led to the biography of the Shoshone woman. [21] Hebard presents a stout-hearted woman in her portrayal of Sacajawea that is "undeniably long on romance and short on hard evidence, suffering from a sentimentalization of Indian culture". [22]


Lizette Charbonneau

Sacagawea gave birth to a daughter, Lizette Charbonneau, sometime after 1810. However, there is no later record of Lizette among Clark's papers. It is believed that she died in childhood.

Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau

Sacagawea's son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau continued a restless and adventurous life. He carried lifelong celebrity status as the infant who went with the explorers to the Pacific Ocean and back. When he was 18, he was befriended by a German Prince, Duke Paul Wilhelm of Württemberg, who took him to Europe. There, Jean-Baptiste spent six years living among royalty, while learning four languages and fathering a child in Germany named Anton Fries. [23]

After his infant son died, Jean-Baptiste came back from Europe in 1829 to live the life of a Western frontiersman. He became a gold miner and a hotel clerk and in 1846 led a group of Mormons to California. While in California he became a magistrate for the Mission San Luis Rey. He disliked the way Indians were treated in the Missions and left to become a hotel clerk in Auburn, California, once the center of gold rush activity. [24]

After working six years in Auburn, the restless Jean-Baptiste left in search of riches in the gold mines of Montana. He was 61 years old, and the trip was too much for him. He became ill with pneumonia and died in a remote area near Danner, Oregon, on May 16, 1866. [24]

Spelling of name

A long-running controversy has surrounded the correct spelling, pronunciation, and etymology of the woman's name; however, linguists working on Hidatsa since the 1870s have always considered the name's Hidatsa etymology essentially indisputable. The name is a compound of two common Hidatsa nouns, cagáàga [tsakáàka] 'bird' and míà [míà] 'woman'. The compound is written as Cagáàgawia 'Bird Woman' in modern Hidatsa orthography, and pronounced [tsakáàkawia] (/m/ is pronounced [w] between vowels in Hidatsa). The double /aa/ in the name indicates a long vowel and the diacritics a falling pitch pattern. Hidatsa is a pitch-accent language that does not have stress; therefore, in the Hidatsa pronunciation all syllables in [tsaɡáàɡawia] are pronounced with roughly the same relative emphasis. However, most English speakers perceive the accented syllable (the long /aa/) as stressed. In faithful rendering of the name Cagáàgawia to other languages, it is advisable to emphasize the second, long syllable, not the last, as is common in English. [25]

The name has several spelling traditions in English. The origin of each tradition is described in the following sections.


Sacagawea /səˌkɑːɡəˈwə/ is the most widely used spelling of her name, and is pronounced with a hard "g" sound, rather than a soft "g" or "j" sound. Lewis and Clark's original journals mention Sacagawea by name seventeen times, spelled eight different ways, each time with a "g". Clark used Sahkahgarwea, Sahcahgagwea, Sarcargahwea, and Sahcahgahweah, while Lewis used Sahcahgahwea, Sahcahgarweah, Sahcargarweah, and Sahcahgar Wea.

The spelling Sacagawea was established in 1910 as the proper usage in government documents by the United States Bureau of American Ethnology, and is the spelling adopted by the United States Mint for use with the dollar coin, as well as the United States Board on Geographic Names and the U.S. National Park Service. The spelling is used by a large number of historical scholars. [26]


Sakakawea /səˌkɑːkəˈwə/ is the next most widely adopted spelling, and the most often accepted among specialists. [27] Proponents say the name comes from the Hidatsa language tsakáka wía, "bird woman". [28] [29] Charbonneau told expedition members that his wife's name meant "Bird Woman", and in May 1805 Lewis used the Hidatsa meaning in his journal:

a handsome river of about fifty yards in width discharged itself into the shell river ... this stream we called Sah-ca-gah-we-ah or bird woman's River, after our interpreter the Snake woman.

Sakakawea is the official spelling of her name according to the Three Affiliated Tribes, which include the Hidatsa, and is widely used throughout North Dakota (where she is considered a state heroine), notably in the naming of Lake Sakakawea, the extensive reservoir of Garrison Dam on the Missouri River.

The North Dakota State Historical Society quotes Russell Reid's book Sakakawea: The Bird Woman:

Her Hidatsa name, which Charbonneau stated meant "Bird Woman," should be spelled "Tsakakawias" according to the foremost Hidatsa language authority, Dr. Washington Matthews. When this name is anglicized for easy pronunciation, it becomes Sakakawea, "Sakaka" meaning "bird" and "wea" meaning "woman." This is the spelling adopted by North Dakota. The spelling authorized for the use of federal agencies by the United States Geographic Board is Sacagawea. Although not closely following Hidatsa spelling, the pronunciation is quite similar and the Geographic Board acknowledged the name to be a Hidatsa word meaning "Bird Woman. [30]

Nevertheless, Irving W. Anderson, President of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, argued:

... the Sakakawea spelling similarly is not found in the Lewis and Clark journals. To the contrary, this spelling traces its origin neither through a personal connection with her nor in any primary literature of the expedition. It has been independently constructed from two Hidatsa Indian words found in the dictionary Ethnography and Philology of the Hidatsa Indians (1877), published by the Government Printing Office. [31] Compiled by a United States Army surgeon, Dr. Washington Matthews, 65 years following Sacagawea's death, the words appear verbatim in the dictionary as "tsa-ka-ka, noun; a bird," and "mia [wia, bia], noun; a woman. [5]


The name Sacajawea or Sacajewea /ˌsækəəˈwə/ , in contrast to the Hidatsa etymology, is said to be derived from Shoshone Saca-tzaw-meah, meaning "boat puller" or "boat launcher". [5] It is the preferred spelling used by the Lemhi Shoshone people, some of whom claim that her Hidatsa captors merely reinterpreted her existing Shoshone name in their own language, and pronounced it in their own dialect [32]  – they heard a name that approximated "tsakaka" and "wia", and interpreted it as "bird woman", substituting the hard "g/k" pronunciation for the softer "tz/j" sound that did not exist in the Hidatsa language.

The use of this spelling almost certainly originated from the use of the "j" spelling by Nicholas Biddle, who annotated the Lewis and Clark Expedition's journals for publication in 1814. This use became more widespread with the publication of the 1902 novel The Conquest: The True Story of Lewis and Clark , written by Eva Emery Dye. It is likely Dye used Biddle's secondary source for the spelling, and her highly popular book made it ubiquitous throughout the United States (previously most non-scholars had never even heard of Sacagawea). [33]

Rozina George, great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Cameahwait, says the Agaidika tribe of Lemhi Shoshone do not recognize the spelling or pronunciation Sacagawea, and schools and other memorials erected in the area surrounding her birthplace use the spelling Sacajawea.

The Lemhi Shoshone call her Sacajawea. It is derived from the Shoshone word for her name, Saca tzah we yaa. In his Cash Book, William Clark spells Sacajawea with a "J". Also, William Clark and Private George Shannon explained to Nicholas Biddle (Published the first Lewis and Clark Journals in 1814) about the pronunciation of her name and how the tz sounds more like a "j". What better authority on the pronunciation of her name than Clark and Shannon who traveled with her and constantly heard the pronunciation of her name? We do not believe it is a Minnetaree (Hidatsa) word for her name. Sacajawea was a Lemhi Shoshone not a Hidatsa. [34]

Idaho native John Rees explored the "boat launcher" etymology in a long letter to the United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs written in the 1920s; it was republished in 1970 by the Lemhi County Historical Society as a pamphlet entitled "Madame Charbonneau" and contains many of the arguments in favor of the Shoshone derivation of the name. [5] [32]

The spelling Sacajawea, although widely taught until the late twentieth century, is generally considered incorrect in modern academia. Linguistics professor Dr. Sven Liljeblad from the Idaho State University in Pocatello has concluded that "it is unlikely that Sacajawea is a Shoshoni word. ... The term for 'boat' in Shoshoni is saiki, but the rest of the alleged compound would be incomprehensible to a native speaker of Shoshoni." [5] The spelling has subsided from general use, although the corresponding "soft j" pronunciation persists in American culture.


The artwork The Dinner Party by feminist artist Judy Chicago features a place setting for Sacagawea in Wing Three of the installation, titled American Revolution to the Women's Revolution. [35]


Some fictional accounts speculate that Sacagawea was romantically involved with Lewis or Clark during their expedition,[ which? ] however, while the journals show that she was friendly with Clark and would often do favors for him, the idea of a romantic liaison was created by novelists who wrote about the expedition much later. This fiction was perpetuated in the Western film The Far Horizons (1955).

In her novel Sacajawea (1984), Anna Lee Waldo explored the story of Sacajawea's returning to Wyoming 50 years after her departure. The author was well aware of the historical research supporting an 1812 death, but she chose to explore the oral tradition.

Film and television

Several movies, both documentaries and fiction, have been made about, or featuring, Sacagawea. [36]

In 1967, the actress Victoria Vetri, under the name Angela Dorian, played Sacajawea in the episode "The Girl Who Walked the West" of the syndicated television series, Death Valley Days . [37]


Two early twentieth-century novels shaped much of the public perception of Sacagawea. The Conquest: The True Story of Lewis and Clark (1902), was written by American suffragist Eva Emery Dye and published in anticipation of the expedition's centennial. [38] The National American Woman Suffrage Association embraced her as a female hero, and numerous stories and essays about her appeared in ladies' journals. A few decades later, Grace Raymond Hebard published Sacajawea: Guide and Interpreter of Lewis and Clark (1933) to even greater success. [9]

Sacagawea has since become a popular figure in historical and young adult novels, including Anna Lee Waldo's novel Sacajawea (1984).




Sacagawea on US Dollar coin.
1 Dollar (United States).jpg
Obverse: Sacagawea with her son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, US national motto, year and Liberty on top.Reverse: Eagle in flight, country name, face value and E pluribus unum (Out of many, one).
Coin popularly known as Sacagawea dollar.


Geography and parks

Sacajawea and Jean-Baptiste (1905), Washington Park (Portland, Oregon), Alice Cooper, sculptor Pdx washpark sacajawea w.jpeg
Sacajawea and Jean-Baptiste (1905), Washington Park (Portland, Oregon), Alice Cooper, sculptor



  • USS Sacagawea, one of several United States ships named in her honor

See also


  1. Journal entries by Clark, Lewis, et al., are brief segments of "our nation's 'living history' legacy of documented exploration across our fledgling republic's pristine western frontier. It is a story written in inspired spelling and with an urgent sense of purpose by ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary deeds." [5]
  2. William Clark created the nickname "Janey" for Sacagawea, which he transcribed twice, November 24, 1805, in his journal, and in a letter to Toussaint, August 20, 1806. It is thought that Clark's use of "Janey" derived from "jane," colloquial army slang for "girl." [5]

Related Research Articles

Toussaint Charbonneau American explorer

Toussaint Charbonneau was a French Canadian explorer and trader, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He is also known as the captor-husband of Sacagawea.

Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was a Native American-French Canadian explorer, guide, fur trapper trader, military scout during the Mexican–American War, alcalde (mayor) of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia and a gold prospector and hotel operator in Northern California. His mother was a Shoshone Indian known as Sacagawea. He spoke French and English and learned German and Spanish during his six years in Europe from 1823 to 1829. He spoke Shoshone, his mother tongue, and other western American Indian languages, which he picked up during his years of trapping and guiding.

The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, is a Native American Nation resulting from the alliance of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara peoples, whose native lands ranged across the Missouri River basin extending from present day North Dakota Through western Montana and Wyoming.

This is the timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the American West (1803–1806).

Fort Mandan

Fort Mandan was the name of the encampment which the Lewis and Clark Expedition built for wintering over in 1804-1805. The encampment was located on the Missouri River approximately twelve miles from the site of present-day Washburn, North Dakota, which developed later. The precise location is not known for certain and is believed now to be under the water of the river. A replica of the fort has been constructed near the original site.

Lemhi Pass

Lemhi Pass is a high mountain pass in the Beaverhead Mountains, part of the Bitterroot Range in the Rocky Mountains and within Salmon-Challis National Forest. The pass lies on the Montana-Idaho border on the continental divide, at an elevation of 7,373 feet (2,247 m) above sea level. It is accessed via Lemhi Pass Road in Montana, and the Lewis and Clark Highway in Idaho, both dirt roads. Warm Springs Road, which roughly follows the divide in Montana, passes just west of the pass's high point.

Cameahwait was the brother of Sacagawea, and a Shoshone chief. He was the head of the first group of inhabitants of modern-day Idaho who were encountered by Europeans.

Grace Raymond Hebard American historian, suffragist, educator, economist and writer

Grace Raymond Hebard gained prominence as a Wyoming historian, suffragist, pioneering scholar, prolific writer, political economist and noted University of Wyoming educator. Hebard's standing as a historian in part rose from her years trekking Wyoming's high plains and mountains seeking first-hand accounts of Wyoming's early pioneers. Today her books on Wyoming history are sometimes challenged due to Hebard's tendency to romanticize the Old West, spurring questions regarding accuracy of her research findings. In particular, her conclusion after decades of field research that Sacajawea was buried in Wyoming's Wind River Indian Reservation is called into question.

Lemhi River river in the United States of America

The Lemhi River is a 60-mile-long (97 km) river in Idaho in the United States. It is a tributary of the Salmon River, which in turn is tributary to the Snake River and Columbia River.

Tendoy, Idaho human settlement in Idaho, United States of America

Tendoy is an unincorporated community in Lemhi County, Idaho, United States. It is located at 44°57′34″N113°38′41″W on State Highway 28, at an altitude of 4,842 feet (1,476 m). It was named for Tendoy, a prominent Lemhi Shoshone chief in the mid-19th century.

The first Fort Lisa (1810-1812), also known as the Fort Manuel Lisa Trading Post, Fort Manuel or Fort Mandan, was started by the notable fur trader Manuel Lisa of the Missouri Fur Company in 1809. This fort was likely where Sacagawea died; she had been the guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Fort Lisa superseded Fort Raymond as the uppermost post of the Missouri Fur Company on the Missouri River. In 1812 Lisa built a replacement fort downriver near present-day North Omaha, Nebraska, which he also named Fort Lisa.

Eva Emery Dye American writer, historian, suffragist

Eva Emery Dye was an American writer, historian, and prominent member of the Women's Suffrage movement. As the author of several historical novels, fictional yet thoroughly researched, she is credited with "romanticizing the historic West, turning it into a poetic epic of expanding civilization." Her best known work, The Conquest: The True Story of Lewis & Clark (1902), is notable for being the first to present Sacagawea as a historically significant character in her own right.

Museum of Human Beings, included in the National American Indian Heritage Month Booklist, November 2012 and 2013 is a novel written by Colin Sargent, which delves into the heart-rending life of Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea. Sacagawea was the Native American guide, who at 16 led the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Sacajawea State Park

Sacajawea State Park is a public recreation area and historical preserve in the city of Pasco, Washington, covering 267 acres (108 ha) at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers where the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped on October 16, 1805. The state park bears the name of the Shoshone woman Sacagawea, who was an active member of the expedition married to expedition member Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian interpreter and explorer. The park's Sacajawea Interpretive Center features exhibits about her and about the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Lemhi Reservation

The Lemhi Reservation was a United States Indian Reservation for the Lemhi Shoshone from 1875 to 1907. During almost all this time their main chief was Tendoy.

<i>Sacajawea and Jean-Baptiste</i>

Sacajawea and Jean-Baptiste is a bronze sculpture of Sacagawea and Jean Baptiste Charbonneau by American artist Alice Cooper, located in Washington Park in Portland, Oregon, in the United States.

Otter Woman was a Shoshone woman who was wife of Smoked Lodge. Otter Woman was likely stolen by the Hidatsa and purchased by Toussaint Charbonneau, who is best known as the husband of Sacagawea. At the time of Sacagawea's abduction and sale to Charbonneau, Otter Woman was already living with Charbonneau as his wife. Charbonneau and Sacagawea were to gain fame as part of the Lewis and Clark expedition that was supported by the Corps of Discovery.

<i>Sakakawea</i> (Crunelle)

Sakakawea is a monumental sized bronze sculpture created by Leonard Crunelle. It was dedicated on October 13, 1914 and stands on the grounds of the North Dakota State Capitol in Bismark, South Dakota.


  1. National Women's Hall of Fame, Sacagawea, Sacajawea, Sakakawea
  2. Fresonke, Kris & Spence, Mark David (February 25, 2004). Lewis & Clark: Legacies, Memories, and New Perspectives. University of California Press. ISBN   978-0-520-23822-0.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  3. "Sergeant Sacagawea". 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  4. 1 2 "Sacagawea". Lewis and Clark. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 2017-09-12 via
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Anderson, Irving W. (Fall 1999). "The Sacagawea Mystique: Her Age, Name, Role and Final Destiny". Columbia Magazine. 13 (3). Archived from the original on February 11, 2008 via
  6. Lewis, Meriwether; Clark, William; et al. (1804). "November 4, 1804". The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. University of Nebraska–Lincoln . Retrieved 2012-12-22 via
  7. 1 2 Lewis, Meriwether; Clark, William; et al. (1805). "August 17, 1805". The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Retrieved 2012-12-22 via
  8. Lewis, Meriwether; Clark, William; et al. (1805). "November 20, 1805". The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Archived from the original on February 2, 2008 via
  9. 1 2 Hebard, Grace Raymond (1933). Sacajawea: Guide and Interpreter of Lewis and Clark (2012 ed.). Courier Corporation. ISBN   9780486146362.
  10. Lewis, Meriwether; Clark, William; et al. (1805). "October 13, 1805". The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. University of Nebraska–Lincoln via
  11. Kastor, Peter; et al. "Sacagawea in primary sources". Lewis and Clark and the American Challenge. St. Louis: Department of American Cultural Studies, Washington University. Archived from the original on February 11, 2006. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
  12. 1 2 Drumm, Stella M., ed. (1920). Journal of a Fur-trading Expedition on the Upper Missouri: John Luttig, 1812–1813, St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society.
  13. 1 2 Butterfield, Bonnie. "Spirit Wind-Walker". Sacagawea: Captive, Indian Interpreter, Great American Legend: Her Life and Death.
  14. Ramona Cameron Worley, Sacajawea 1788–1884: Examine the Evidence (Lander, WY, 2011), p. 17.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Historical Landmarks".
  16. 1 2 Wilson, Raymond (May 25, 1999). Ohiyesa: Charles Eastman, Santee Sioux. University of Illinois Press. ISBN   978-0-252-06851-5.
  17. 1 2 Clark, Ella E. & Edmonds, Margot (September 15, 1983). Sacagawea of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. University of California Press. ISBN   978-0-520-05060-0.
  18. "Who's Buried in Sacagawea's Grave?". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  19. "University of Wyoming American Heritage Center". Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  20. "Lewis and Clark Trail". Lewis and Clark Trail. 2001-01-17. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  21. Mickelson, Sandy. "Sacajawea legend may not be correct". The Messenger. Fort Dodge, Iowa. The reporter recounts the findings from Thomas H. Johnson, who argues in his "Also Called Sacajawea: Chief Woman's Stolen Identity" that Hebard had the wrong woman when she relied upon oral history that an old woman who died and is buried on the Wyoming Wind River Reservation was Sacajawea, the Shoshone woman who participated in the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  22. Scharff, Virginia (1989). Joncich Clifford, Geraldine, ed. "Grace Raymond Hebard: The Independent and Feminine Life; 1861–1936". Lone Voyagers: Academic Women in Coeducational Universities. 1870–1937. New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York.
  23. Butterfield, Bonnie (November 28, 2011). "Sacagawea's Shoshone People". Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  24. 1 2 Butterfield, Bonnie (1963-07-02). "What Happened After The Expedition: Sacagawea's Death". Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  25. Park, Indrek. 2012. A Grammar of Hidatsa. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, Bloomington. p. 36.
  26. "Reading Lewis and Clark – Thomasma, Clark, and Edmonds" Archived 2006-09-26 at the Wayback Machine , Idaho Commission for Libraries
  27. Koontz, John (ed.). "Etymology". Siouan Languages. Retrieved 2007-04-01 via
  28. Bright, William (2004). Native American Place Names in the United States. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 413.
  29. Hartley, Alan H. (2002). "[Unknown]". Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas Newsletter. Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas. 20 (4): 12–13.
  30. Reid, Russell (1986). Sakakawea: The Bird Woman. Bismarck, South Dakota: State Historical Society of North Dakota. Archived from the original on 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  31. Matthews, Washington, ed. (1877). Ethnography and Philology of the Hidatsa Indians. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.
  32. 1 2 "The Legend of Her Name Archived 2007-02-08 at the Wayback Machine ", Lemhi County Historical Museum
  33. "[The Lewis and Clark Expedition] merited less than a single paragraph in John Clark Ridpath's 691-page Popular History of the United States of America (1878)." ... "Within three years of publication of Dye's novel the first book devoted exclusively to Sacagawea, Katherine Chandler's The Bird-Woman of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, appeared as a supplementary reader for elementary school students." [Chandler's book used the "Sacajawea" spelling.] Dippie, Brian W. "Sacagawea Imagery", Chief Washakie Foundation
  34. George, Rozina. "Agaidika Perspective on Sacajawea", Life Long Learning: The Lewis and Clark Rediscovery Project.
  35. Place Settings. Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved on 2015-08-06. Also in: Overview of the concept by Kay Keys 2007.
  36. "Sacajawea (Character)". IMDb.
  37. ""The Girl Who Walked the West" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. November 4, 1967. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  38. Dye, Eva Emery (1902). The Conquest: The True Story of Lewis and Clark  .
  39. "Schoolhouse Rock 'Elbow Room'" . Retrieved 2012-02-13 via
  40. "Tingstad & Rumbel discography".
  41. "Alessandra Celetti: "Sketches of Sacagawea" (2010, Al-Kemi Lab)". April 1, 2011.
  42. "Episode 1: Sacajawea". The Broadsides via
  43. "TheBroadsidesPodcast".
  44. "TERMS OF USE (06/11)". United States Mint, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Department of Treasury. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  45. "Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural, and Educational Center". Salmon, Idaho: Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural & Educational Center, City of Salmon, Idaho. Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  46. Biography and Photo of the Statue of Sacagawea, at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, DC
  47. "Clark's Point, Case Park". 2008-06-29. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  48. "Sacajawea and Jean-Baptiste", sculpted by Alice Cooper
  49. "Sculpture of Sacagawea and Jean Baptiste". Lewis & Clark College. 2004-09-05. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  50. "City of Richland Public Art Catalog". City of Richland. p. 19. Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  51. Weber, Harry. "'Late May 1805' diorama". US National Park Service.