Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sacagawea Sees the Ocean

(Sacagawea Statue Lewis and Clark College, Portland Oregon)

Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, is an American enigma.  Little is known of her, wife of Toussaint Charbonneau (an abusive French frontiersman who took her as wife at 13) and mother of Jean Baptiste and Lizette, she dies of a fever in 1812.  Though rarely mentioned in Lewis and Clark's journals, she lives on in American folklore.  Here are two journal entries I love about Sacagawea:

1. Lewis, July 28, 1805.  Beaver's Head at the Three Forks Mouth of the Missouri.  Sacagawea calmly recounts her kidnapping to the men around a campfire.

"Our present camp is precisely on the spot that the Snake Indians were encamped at the time the Minnetares of the Knife first came in sight of them five years since... attacked them and killed 4 men, 4 women, a number of boys and made prisoners of all of them.  Sah-cah-gar-we-ah, our Indian woman, was one of the female prisoners taken at that time; tho' I cannot discover that she shows any emotion of sorrow in recollecting this event, or of joy in being restored to her native country; if she has enough to eat and a few trinkets to wear I believe she would be perfectly content anywhere."
2. Lewis, Jan 6, 1806 Fort Clatosp.  Sacagawea insists to see the Pacific Ocean once in her life and a beached whale washed ashore.

"Capt. Clark set out after an early breakfast with the party in two canoes as had been concerted the last evening.  Charbono and his Indian woman were also of the party; the Indian woman was very importunate to be permitted to go, and was therefore indulged; she observed that she had traveled a long way with us to see the great waters, and that now the monstrous fish was also to be seen, she thought it very hard she could not be permitted to see either (she had never seen the ocean).  

No comments:

Post a Comment