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Sacagawea, a journey across America from shoshone tribe slave to a national heroine

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Sacagawea was the interpreter for Lewis and Clarks adventure, declared by Thomas Jefferson in 1803 to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. America could possibly not be what it is today without the help of Sacagawea. Sacagawea was an native american girl who was taken to slavery at a young age, and from slavery went to be noted a a great woman and also is remembered on the 2000 one dollar coin.

Sacagawea was first known at birth as Boinaiv, which means ” Grass Maiden;” she was part of the Shoshone tribe. She was born at about 1790 and she was from the area in which is now today Idaho. At the age of twelve she was camped near the Missouri River in Montana. They were encroached upon by warriors from the Hidatsa. There were four men, fourwomen, and many boys killed that day. That day Boinaiv and many other girls and boys were taken back to the Hidatsa village and were kept as prisoners. When Boinaiv arrived at the village she was renamed Sacagawea, which means “Bird Woman.” At the Hidatsa village Sacagawea was enslaved until about 1800-1805. She was then either bought or won by a man by the name of Toussaint Charbonneau.

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At this same time, president Jerfferson and the U.S. Congress were authorizing a voyage to find the Pacific Ocean. This means putting a gourp of men together that would explore the territory between the Mississippi and Colimbia Rivers and attempt to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Heading up this mission would be Jeffersons secretary and condidante, Lewis, and Lewis’ friend Clark.

On October 27, 1804, Lewis and Clark’s expedition reached the village of the Mandan Indians, in North Dakota. There they met Sacagawea and he French- Canadian husband Toussaint Charbonneau. At this time she was about 17 years old and pregnant.

Clark was keeping a journal of their journey, also known as the “Voyage of Discovery.” In this journal historians found that on November 4,1804, ” A Mr. Chaubonie [Charbonneau] interpreter from the Gross Ventre nation come to see us… this man wished to hir as an interpreter ” (Notible Native Americans). Mr. Charbonneau was married to Sacagawea, and when she heard that Lewis and Clark needed interpreters she was the first to come to her husband and talk to him about it. Sacagawea was not Mr. Charbonneau’s only wife, she was one of many.

Sacagawea spoke her naive language, and then she spoke french. To interpret to the traveling party, she spoke french, but she also knew some sign language that helped then to understand her even better. Her fench was interpreted to Lewis and Clark by another memeber in their group that could speak both french and english.

Before the expedition began, Sacagawea gave birth to her son Jean Baptiste on Febuary 11 or 12, 1805.

On April 7, 1805 Sacagawea accompanied Lewis and Clark’s team. At this time she still had and infant , she would take her child with her. On their journey they were lead to the Shoshone tribe, and there they spoke to the cheif. By listening to the conversation Sacagawea soon noticed that the chief was her brother. She was taken away from him when she was young.

Sacagawea proved herself very useful to Lewis and Clark’s expedition. When in the area of the Shoshone people she was able to help with trade tremendously. Since she was born near this area she was able to assure them at all time that they were going the right way. Sacagawea was not only a interpreter but a very good guide.

They were now going through the Rocky Mountains at this time and were taking the most direst route to the Yellowstone Valley. Clark axknowlefged that she had been of a great service tp jos as a guide throught out the trip.

Around June 10, Sacagawea had become very ill , and would stay ill throughout the rest of the trip.They were soon to part , this was August 18, 1806. They had just reachedFort Mandan in central North Dakota. This is where they left each other.

After the expedition , Clark offered to let them move to St. Louis, andthere he would school Jean Baptiste. Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau accepted and moved to St.Louis.

Historians belive that on Dec. 20, 1812,Sacagawea died of “putrid fever” , or maybe she did not. Oral tradition of Sacagawea’s native people says she that she returned to the Shoshones and settled at the Wind River

reservation, which is now in modern-day Wyoming. The tribal tradition says that Sacagawea died on April 9, 1884, and is buried there with her original family tribe on the Shohone’s reservation.

Sacagawea is now remembered on the 2000 golden dollar coin. On the front of this coin is pictured Sacagawea and her son Jean Baptiste, who was only six months old at the time. On the back of the coin is pictured the bald eagle which represents the country of America. The bald eagle is encircled with 17 stars, these stars represented how many states were in the union at the time of 1804 when the expedition began.


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