THE JOURNEY OF SACAGAWEA’S LIFE
On paper, Sacagawea’s life was not her own. Not one thing that I found leads me to believe she was ever able to lead a life that she was able to fully control. She seemed to be pulled in all directions but made the best of her circumstances. But, in examining the years of her life and learning how Lewis and Clark endeared themselves to her, one realizes her sacrifices did not go unnoticed.
1788: Sacagawea was born to the Lemhi-Shoshone tribe in what is now Lemhi, Idaho.
1800: Sacagawea was kidnapped by the Hidatsas tribe and sold to a French-Canadian fur
trader, Toussaint Charbonneau. She eventually became one of his wives.
1804: The expedition of Lewis and Clark hired Toussaint Charbonneau as their interpreter for the Hidatsas tribe. Pregnant Sacagawea would accompany her husband as an interpreter for the Shoshone tribes.
1805: Sacagawea gave birth to a son she would nickname Pompy. Lewis assisted in the baby’s delivery. Later this year a storm would rise up and nearly overturn one of the boats the expedition was using, causing a loss of supplies. Sacagawea was able to save many items including personal journals of Lewis and Clark, thus resulting in one of the Missouri River’s tributaries being named after her. That same year, Sacagawea led the expedition to the Shoshone tribe to bargain a trade for horses. While she was translating for Lewis and Clark she realized the chief of the Shoshone tribe was her brother. The expedition was able to trade for the horses and continue the rest of the journey with greater ease. It was at the end of this year that the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean. They set up camp here during the winter months.
1806: The team set back through the wilderness. By the end of the year, everyone had returned home. Clark offered to raise Sacagawea’s son, Pompy. He promised her and Toussaint he would give Pompy a good life with a solid education. Charbonneau was given land and roughly $530.00 for helping the Corps of Discovery. Sacagawea was given nothing.
1811: Charbonneau did not do well tilling the land he was given, sold it to Clark and moved himself and Sacagawea to Fort Manuel Lisa located in South Dakota. Pompy stayed with Clark and was enrolled in a boarding school.
1812: Sacagawea gave birth to a daughter, Lizette. Late that year it is believed Sacagawea died. Clark formally adopted Pompy and Lizette the following year.
1875: In a strange turn of events, a woman living on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming – home to many of the Shoshone tribe – claimed that she was Sacagawea until the day of her death in 1884. To this day, there is confusion on when and where the real Sacagawea died and was buried.
I wish there was more research on the controversy surrounding Sacagawea’s death. She was a beautifully simple woman and her burial deserved the same beauty and respect. It sure does seem like someone could have used a little deductive reasoning to figure out if the woman claiming to be Sacagawea was actually her. All it would have taken was a little wisdom.