The Lewis and Clark Expedition took more than two years. The group experienced hunger, illness, injury, mosquito swarms, extreme heat, and threat of Indian attack along the way. Sacagawea, the only woman on the trip, went through all these challenges with her small son. She is a true American hero.
- Sacagawea was born in 1788 near the Salmon River in what is now Idaho. She belonged to the Lemhi Shoshone tribe.
- She was kidnapped in 1800 by the Hidatsa tribe, enemies of the Shoshone Indians, during a buffalo hunt. She was only 12-years-old. She was taken to the Hidatsa-Mandan Indian settlement in what is now North Dakota.
- In 1804, French trader Toussaint Charbonneau bought or was given Sacagawea as payment for a gambling debt. She became his wife and they soon had a son.
- When Lewis and Clark met Sacagawea at the Mandan trading village, they knew she would be a valuable asset to their expedition. She spoke both Hidatsa and Shoshone and could help them negotiate for horses. She was also familiar with the land and was an expert food gatherer. She knew which plants, roots, and berries were edible and which were poisonous.
- Sacagawea and Charbonneau joined the expedition only two months after their son was born.
- A storm arose one day while the group was traveling by boat, nearly capsizing the craft carrying Sacagawea and her son. Quick-thinking Sacagawea gathered important documents, tools, and medicines, while taking care of her son.
- While negotiating with the Shoshone Indians for horses, Sacagawea was reunited with her brother.
- As a woman and mother, Sacagawea helped preserve peace between the expedition and any Indians they met. Her presence was calming to both groups.
- After their long and difficult journey, Sacagawea and Charbonneau returned to the Mandan village. Charbonneau was given $500 and 320 acres of land. Sacagawea was given nothing, even though Clark called her his pilot and relied on her expertise and intelligence.
- In 1812, Sacagawea had a daughter, Lizette. Sacagawea died soon after, probably of typhoid fever. Clark became the legal guardian of both her children, raising them to adulthood.
- Asset: something or someone that adds value or makes a positive contribution
- Negotiate: to reach a mutually-agreeable arrangement, usually a business deal
- Edible: safe to eat
Visit PBS to learn more about Sacagawea.
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Tobin, Declan. (2019). Fun Sacagawea Facts for Kids - American History. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/sacagawea/