Sacagawea Biography

A biography of Sacagawea, who she was and what she did.

Sacagawea was the 15 year old Shoshone Indian who assisted the Lewis and Clark expedition around 1804-1806. She, along with her husband, were their guides from the Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean and then back. At around the age of 12 she was captured by kidnapped by the Hidatsa tribe, which was an enemy tribe and was sold into slavery. Later on she was sold to a French-Canadian fur trader named Toussaint Charbonneau who then married Sacagawea and they then had a son whom they named Jean-Baptiste.

Sacagawea was their interpreter and negotiator with the Shoshone tribe and helped Lewis and Clark obtain supplies and horses from the tribe, which was being led by Sacagawea's brother Cameahwait. It is believed that without the help of Sacagawea, the expedition would have been impossible to complete. She went on the expedition with Lewis and Clark with her infant son on her back.

Sacagawea became a very important part of the expedition. Her knowledge of native plants and herbs often helped to feed the people and also knew which plants and roots were good for medicine. When encountering tribes along the way, Sacagawea prevented many battles because the tribes would see that there was an Indian woman with them. That was a clear sign of a non-threatening group. Especially that the woman was carrying a child with her.

In November 1805, when the expedition reached where the Columbia River met the Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark held a vote to decide where to settle for the winter. The expedition voted to stay near what is now Astoria, Oregon. They counted Sacagawea's vote as well. She was counted as equally as the men in the group. The corps then built Fort Clatsop and then settled there for the winter.

On the trip back Sacagawea was even more important to their expedition because she knew the areas that they were traveling through and was able to guide the expedition safely back. Sacagawea received no payment for her service but her husband did. He received cash and land for their help on the expedition.

Six years after the expedition, Sacagawea gave birth to a daughter, Lisette. That winter Sacagawea died from what was believed to be an ailment she had her entire adult life, but was aggravated by giving birth to her second child, at the age of 22. Eight months later Clark legally adopted her 2 children. Clark educated Jean-Baptiste. Shortly after his 18th birthday her son was then sent to Europe. There are no records of her daughter and it's unclear if she even survived past infancy.

There is a lot of legends and lore behind the story of Sacagawea. There are no drawings, pictures or descriptions of her, so her appearance is very unclear. Nobody knows what she really looked like. There are other legends associated with her story. There are monuments and statues dedicated to her and now there is even a one dollar gold coin made in her honor. Her grave is located in Lander, Wyoming.

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