MISSARTEMISS MUSE: Sacagawea

How the legendary interpreter and guide overcame adversity to become one of America’s greatest explorers.

 

MissArtemiss celebrates our Nation's infamous adventuress, Sacagawea.  Born a Lemhi Shoshone Native American, she helped Lewis and Clarke travel from the Louisiana Purchase to the Pacific Ocean—all with a baby strapped to her back.

Sacagawea, a true blue MissArtemiss inspiration.

Sacajawea Monument, n.d. Sacajawea Center, Salmon Idaho, 11.5.17

Sacajawea Monument, n.d. Sacajawea Center, Salmon Idaho, 11.5.17

Back in 1787, the year Sacagawea was born, America was a wild place. Though she was sold into slavery to a French Canadian fur trapper at age 13, her spirit was more in line with her name, which means “Bird Woman.” Sacagawea was destined to be an adventuress.

When Thomas Jefferson recruited Lewis and Clarke to map out the newly bought Louisiana Purchase, the explorers needed someone knowledgeable of the land. They hired Sacagawea’s husband, but quickly found that it was his “squaw” who was the valuable one.

 
 

Sacagawea knew the native Shoshone and Haditsi languages, you see, and was willing to share and communicate. As the group went from Missouri through the dangerous territory of the American Northwest, Sacagawea used her interpreting skills to dissipate resistance from Native American tribes. She created a bridge between the explorers and the tribes, helping them make friends, foster trust and even build alliances. She even knew what foods to eat so the explorers wouldn’t be poisoned along the road. Without Sacagawea, Lewis and Clarke would never have survived.

 

It was all possible because of Sacagawea’s mental and physical fortitude. Not only did she travel by foot from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, she did it with a baby strapped to her papoose. At one point, Sacagawea's boat overturned and she maneuvered through the rough waters to keep herself and her infant son from drowning—while saving important maps and materials from their sinking vessel.

 

 
 

After leading the group to the Pacific Ocean, Sacagawea helped the expedition return safely back to the Louisiana Purchase.

 

Not much is known about the rest of Sacagawea’s life, but most believe that she spent her golden years with her beloved Shoshone tribe. She is buried somewhere in the Sioux reservation lands in North Dakota.

 

Wherever she is today, she will always be a soaring bird in our hearts—and an inspiration to be strong, adventurous, intelligent and peace-loving.