Who was Sacagawea?

Sacagawea was born in the native Indian tribe of Shoshone in 1788. Her father was the chief of the tribe which lived near the Rocky Mountains region. She became famous when she helped the Lewis and Clark expedition which began in 1804 and ended in 1806.

Childhood and slavery

Sacagawea spent much of her childhood near the modern-say state of Idaho. Her tribe was not a settled tribe, which means that they travelled around often and hunted for food rather than growing crops and staying in one place. When she was 11, her tribe the Shoshone were attacked by another native Indian tribe called the Hidatsa.

Hidatsa took Sacagawea as a slave and returned to their homeland in modern-day North Dakota. Here Sacagawea worked in the fields. When she grew older, she was sold by the Hidatsa tribe to a Canadian-French fur trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau. Charbonneau later married Sacagawea. She gave birth a son who was named Jean Baptiste, a few months before the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Helping the Lewis and Clark Expedition

In 1804, Lewis and Clark began their expedition to explore the America West and go all the way to the Pacific Ocean. They were asked by President Thomas Jefferson to undertake this journey in order to know the region and find a path to the sea on the other side of North America.

Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife, Sacagawea agreed to join the expedition and help them on their way. During the journey, Sacagawea greatly helped the men by finding edible roots, herbs and plants for them. She also helped Lewis and Clark communicate with the native Indian tribes along the way since she knew many native Indian languages.

At one point during the journey, one of the expedition’s boats was damaged and capsized. The boat contained many important documents. Sacagawea was the only one who was able to go into the water and rescue the documents while carrying her infant son. For this act of bravery, the expedition named a branch of the Missouri River after her.

Reunion with the Shoshone Tribe

In the summer of 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition reached the area where Shoshone tribe lived. They wanted to buy some horses from the tribe and asked Sacagawea to act as the translator. When they met the Shoshone, Sacagawea found out that her brother was now the chief of the tribe. She was very happy to meet him but decided to continue on the journey. Her brother provided the expedition with the horses and also gave a guide to help the expedition cross the Rocky Mountains region.

After the Expedition

In November, 1805, Sacagawea and the Lewis and Clark expedition reached the Pacific Ocean. Sacagawea was amazed at the sea and at the remains of a whale which had washed on the beach. A few years later, Sacagawea gave birth to a daughter. Not much is known about her life after this period. Some sources say that she died a few years later and Lieutenant Clark, who was a part of the expedition,a adopted both her children.

Learn More about Sacagawea at Wikipedia