Western Life


Sacagawea has numerous statues and place-names in honor of her contribution to the Lewis and Clark expedition. Sacagawea was born in 1788 in Lemhi County, Idaho. She was the daughter of a Shoshone chief and was captured by an enemy tribe after which she was sold to a French-Canadian who married her. Being a Shoshone interpreter, she was invited to join the Lewis and Clark expedition in November 1804.

Her Role in Lewis and Clark Expedition

Keeping in mind the limited historical facts and information available regarding Sacagawea, most writers mention that she was responsible for guiding the expedition to the Missouri River in the springtime. After a thorough discussion, the expedition and Sacagawea agreed to join hands and carry on with the objectives.

Sacagawea played a vital role as an interpreter for the expedition as they were about to face Shoshone tribes. They continued the expedition for more than a week after which they tried to cross the mountains by trading their horses.

The Corp commander praised her for her capabilities and dedication and named the Sacagawea River on May 20, 1805 after her. It is also notable that when the expedition reached the Columbia River, she gave up her beaded belt so that the captains could trade for a fur robe that they wanted to give to President Thomas Jefferson.

It was her skillful efforts that made it possible for the expedition to make Shoshone tribes agree to barter horses. They provided the expedition with guides leading them over the rocks. Her work as an interpreter appears to play a vital role in the success of expedition.

Sacagawea and the Fort Clatsop

In November 1805, she reached the Pacific coast and casted her vote with other members of the expedition to build a fort to stay in during the winter. Sacagawea and her family continued the journey and left the expedition at Mandan Villages. Leaving the expedition was challenging for them because they were on a difficult journey and had almost made it to the destination.

Her Last Days

Once Sacagawea left the expedition, the details of her life became vague. In 1809, it is believed that she and her husband — or just her husband, according to some accounts — traveled with their son (Pomp) to St. Louis to see Clark. Pomp was left in Clark’s care. Three years later, Sacagawea gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Lisette.

Making such an amazing contribution to the Corps of Discovery gave her considerable fame and respect after which she died in 1812 at Fort Manuel in South Dakota.

Coin Tribute to Sacagawea

In the honor of her incredible contribution, Sacagawea was given the highest level of gratitude in several ways such as statues and place-names. In addition to that, her photo was also featured on a dollar coin which was issued in 2000. This brass covered coin replaced the Susan B. Anthony dollar.

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