Sacagawea Biography

One of the most famous overland expeditions that were conducted on the North American continent could not be possible without the help of one brave woman - Native American Lemhi Shoshone Indian translator and guide Sacagawea. During the legendary expedition of Lewis and Clark, she provided instrumental help on their journey across the Rocky Mountains on their way to the Pacific and back. Today, she is remembered as one of the most famous woman explorers of all time. Her life story influenced the rise of the organizations such as "National American Woman Suffrage Association" who promoted the equality and independence of woman. During that time, many historians started examining records of her life, and few of the key points of her life remain unknown even today.
Sacagawea (translated as "bird woman") was born around 1788, as the daughter of the chief of the Shoshone tribe that was stationed in the area of the today's city Salmon in Lemhi County, Idaho. At the age of 12, she became kidnaped by the raiding party of the roaming Hidatsa Indians, and was transported to their village at present day Washburn, North Dakota. There she was sold to be wife of the French-Canadian trapper Toussaint Charbonneau (some historians clam that he won her during gambling). While being pregnant with her first child (son named Jean-Baptiste), she and her husband become employed by the visiting party of the explorers Lewis and Clark. They traveled to Sacagawea village on their journey to the unexplored northwestern areas of the North American continent. Their main are of exploration was the riverbed of river Missouri, in the hope of finding the water route from eastern US to the Pacific.
Sacagawea started this hard journey in the spring of 1805, carrying her newborn child. Decision to bring a woman and child on expedition was made by Lewis and Clark, because they knew that various Indian tribes that they will find along the way would not see them as threat with her in their midst. After few weeks of traveling, their decision paid off when they met the tribe of Shoshone Indians. To the amazement of all, chief of that tribe was no other than Sacagawea's long lost brother who survived the attack of Hidatsa Indians around five years ago. After successful purchase of horses and supplies, expedition started their hard journey across the Rocky Mountains. During that time Sacagawea's knowledge of wilderness and survival became instrumental - she taught the crew how to find edible food, where to find natural medicines, pointed the easiest routes through the rough terrain, and as an only woman in the group she was tasked with the job of preparing food, mending and washing clothes.
After mission success, they returned from the coast of Pacific to the eastern parts of the America. Few years after their return to village of Hidatsa Indians, Sacagawea and her husband Toussaint Charbonneau moved to St. Louis where they received help from Captain William Clarkon. He became legal guardian of Sacagawea's two children - son Jean Baptiste (who was educated both in St. Louis and in Europe) and newborn daughter Lizette.
Exact circumstances of Sacagawea's death are clouded in debate. Some claim that in 1812, she died in St. Louis from unknown sickness, but other claim that she left her husband, re-married in Comanche tribe and finally died in her Shoshone tribe around 1814.

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