Friday, April 28, 2017

Clark Called her Janey

 As I devote more and more of my life to teaching my daughters not only the Story of the World but also the Story of America through literature and history, I find an increasing joy spending incredible amounts of time with people long since passed.  People of history will never leave you, forsake you, or rebuke you.  Rather, they exist forever just waiting to be discovered.  Such is the life of American hero, Sacagawea, who two-hundred years after leading Lewis and Clark through the wilds of the Idaho and Oregon west, can still lead us today.
The following are mentions of Sacagawea in the journals and letters of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. Though rarely discussed, Clark's nickname of 'Janey' for the Shoshone woman is endearing and indicative of perhaps a deeper affection and respect that she is afforded in his public writing.  I find this little odd fact symbolic of Sacagawea's quiet bravery and impregnable strength which is a great inspiration to me even today.

1.  "Two men cut themselves with an ax, the large ducks pass to the south, an Indian gave me several roles of parched meat... and two squaws of the Rocky mountains, purchased from the Indians by a frenchman came down.  The Mandan are out hunting buffalo."  -Clark, Nov. 11, 1804.  Sacagawea enters Fort Mandan with her husband, she is six months pregnant.

2.  "About five o'clock this evening one of the wives of Charbono [Sacagawea] was delivered of a fine boy.  It is worthy of remark that this was the first child which this woman had born, and as is common in such cases her labour was tedious and the pain violent.  Mr. Jessom informed me that he had frequently administered a small portion of the rattle of the rattle-snake, which he assured me had never failed to produce the desired effect, that of hastening the birth of a child."  -Lewis, Feb. 11, 1805.  Sacagawea gives birth to a son, Jean-Baptist after drinking rattlesnake rattle powder.  Clark calls the baby "Pomp."

3.  "We had also embarked on board ourselves, with three men who could not swim and the squaw with the young child, all of whom, had the perogue overset, would most probably have perished."   -Lewis, April 13, 1805.  Sacagawea calmly rescues scientific instruments being washed over when her husband almost capsizes the pirogue in a strong wind.

4. "This stream we called Sah-ca-ger or Bird Woman's River, after our interpreter the Snake Woman."  -Lewis, May 20, 1805.  Lewis and Clark name Bird Woman River after Sacagawea.

5.  "Sacagawea our Indian woman very sick.  I bled her, we determined to asscend the South Fork..."  -Clark, June 10, 1805.  Sacagawea hovers near death alongside Great Falls, Missouri.  Clark repeatedly bleeds her and she finally recovers.

6.  "I determined myself to proceed to the falls and take the river... I took my servant, and one man, Charbano our interpreter and his squaw... soon a torrent of rain fell like one volley of water falling from heaven and gave us time only to get out of the way ... scrambled up the hill pushing the interpreters wife (who had her child in her arms) before me."  -Clark, June 29, 1805.  Sacagawea and child nearly drown in a flash flood.

7.  "Glad of an opportunity of being able to converse more intelligibly, Sacajawea was sent for; she came into the tent, sat down, and was beginning to interpret, when in the person of Cameahwait she recognized her brother.  She instantly jumped up, and ran and embraced him, throwing over him her blanket and weeping profusely.  The chief was himself moved, though not in the same degree.  After some conversation between them she resumed her seat, and attempted to interpret for us, but her new situation seemed to overpower her, and she was frequently interrupted by her tears."    -Biddle, Aug. 17, 1805.  Sacagawea is reunited with her brother, Cameahwait, chief of the Shoshone tribe.

8.  "If you wish to return to trade with the Indians and will leave your little son Pomp with me... Janey had best come along with you to take care of the boy until I get him."  -Clark, Aug. 20, 1806.  Clark writes a letter to Charbonneau to settle their affairs and pay him for his service and also to adopt his son to ensure his education.  He requests Sacagawea, calling her 'Janey' to accompany the child.  

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