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Sacajawea: Carrying Two Worlds on Her Back

By , pittsfield, MA
Between two worlds Sacajawea was able to connect them through her calming and motherly nature. Sacajawea was born into the Shoshone tribe in approximately 1784. At the young age of 12 she was kidnapped from her tribe by a war party of Hidatsa Indians, enemies of her people. She was taken from her home located in the Rocky Mountains to the Hidatsa-Mandan villages. Later she was sold as a slave to Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trader who claimed Sacagawea and another Shoshone woman as his “wives.” In November 1804, the Corps of Discovery arrived at the Hidatsa-Mandan villages and soon built a fort nearby. In the American Fort Mandan on February 11, 1805 (8 weeks before Sacajawea would go on the expedition with Lewis and Clark), Sacagawea gave birth to her son Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau (fathered by Toussaint Charbonneau), who would accompany Sacajawea on her journey with Lewis and Clark.

Sacajawea became invaluable as a guide to Lewis and Clark while they were in the region of her homeland, and as an interpreter between the expedition and her tribe when the expedition reached that area. She also quieted the fears of other Native Americans, for no war party traveled with a woman and a small baby. She was able to translate when they met up with Shoshone-speaking Indians.

The best evidence there is about Sacajawea’s death suggests that she died about six years after the expedition, in her mid-20s. Shortly after giving birth to a daughter, Lisette. Sacagawea died around age 25 due to what later medical researchers believed was a serious illness she had suffered most of her adult life. Her condition may have been aggravated by her daughter’s birth. At the time of her death, Sacagawea was with Toussaint Charbonneau at Fort Manuel, a Missouri Fur Company trading post in present-day South Dakota. Eight months after her death, Clark legally adopted Sacagawea's two children, Jean Baptiste and Lisette. Sacajawea delivered comfort to the Native Americans on the journey and peace of mind to Lewis and Clark on there journey, she kept the peace between these two worlds and will always be remembered.





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