Guest Author – Sacagawea: Native American Explorer and Heroine

I’ve previously published some of my daughter’s essays on this blog. My daughter, Grace, is a sixth grader at The College School in St. Louis. I am so impressed with their approach to teaching writing skills. If you are someone who has the ability to direct donations or funding to a school, then I strongly recommend that you consider The College School.
Earlier this year, she wrote the following research paper on Sacagawea. It’s her very first research paper. Although (and I know some will find this ironic) I thought that this paper was a little long for a blog post, she said that she’d like me to post it on my blog. She was proud of the paper and she received high marks on it. Her mom and I are proud of her and the paper too.
I’ve taken out the footnotes and bibliography (for my convenience).
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Sacagawea: Native American Explorer and Heroine
Many people have probably heard of Sacagawea, one of the most well known and respected Native American women. She helped lead Lewis and Clark, and the US Corps of Discovery, on the historic journey to explore the Louisiana Territory and find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Not as many people know that Sacagawea was pregnant and had her baby on the expedition. Her path from the wilderness of Idaho to lasting fame was as difficult, filled with adventure, and as mysterious as the Lewis and Clark expedition was.
Sacagawea was born around 1789 in eastern Idaho, as a member of the Shoshone tribe. She did not remain with her Shoshone tribe for very long. When Sacagawea was around age ten, the Minnetarees, a rival tribe, captured her, and they took her to the North Dakota border region. Before her capture, she lived with her family, her parents, two brothers, and her sisters.
At around age 14, after about four years of living as a captive of the Minnetarees, Sacagawea was sold to Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-American fur trader. Charbonneau and Sacagawea were soon married, and a short time later, Sacagawea became pregnant.
Charbonneau was hired by the US Corps of Discovery around 1804, and was required to bring Sacagawea with him for two reasons. If she came, she would help the party make peace with the people they met on the expedition. They also needed her to be their Native American interpreter and guide because she knew both the languages of the tribes they might meet and she had lived in an area they would be exploring.
Sacagawea helped the crew and made important contributions. At one point, she even saved Lewis and Clark’s journals, which would have sank if she had not rescued them. These journals are a national treasure, and without the help of Sacagawea, we would know much less about the expedition.
During the expedition, they actually returned to Sacagawea’s homeland. When she returned to her tribe, she found her brother who was now the chief of the tribe. After much celebrating, the tribe wanted her to stay. However, Sacagawea chose to continue on the expedition, even though it was dangerous and she would leave her brother behind. Sacagawea’s choice is an important part of the story that made her famous.
People still greatly respect Sacagawea today. She is one of the most famous women in history and memorials to her can be found in many places. She has more statues of herself than any other woman in the United States. She is even on a coin. Originally, the one-dollar golden coin was going to have Susan B. Anthony on it, but the design of the coin was changed to Sacagawea carrying Pomp (her son), on her back.
Lewis and Clark thought very highly of Sacagawea. Clark wrote many journal entries about her, praising her for all the good work she did. Lewis and Clark named a river after Sacagawea, known as Bird Woman’s River, and an incredible sand feature after Pomp, known as Pompey’s Tower. Clark wrote a letter to Charbonneau; praising Sacagawea for all that she did. Charbonneau was paid $500.33 for his services on the expedition, but Sacagawea was paid nothing. Even though Sacagawea was unpaid, she was rewarded with lasting fame and has made an amazing impact on our American history today.
There is a mystery about Sacagawea’s death. One theory says that she died of “putrid fever” on December 20, 1812. Another theory points to a Native American woman named Porvo. If Porvo was Sacagawea, then she was married several times, had more children, and was reunited with her son, Jean Baptiste. Those who knew Porvo said that she knew the inside facts on the expedition, spoke French, and talked about sun stories known to the Shoshone. Porvo died on April 9, 1884. Scholars today believe that Porvo was most likely Sacagawea).
Sacagawea was very important to both the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition and to our history. Sacagawea was captured and sold as a child, and then sold again to Charbonneau to be his wife. She became an important member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, saved the expedition journals, was reunited with some of her family, and was greatly praised by William Clark. Sacagawea had an incredible life, resulting in becoming very famous. She is a Native American hero, and should always be greatly respected. Nearing the end of the expedition, Sacagawea realized that both America and her native land would soon change. All the places they had explored would be open to the people who would follow Lewis and Clark west. As Sacagawea would say, “This was the end of my journey; this was the beginning of a Great Change.”
- Grace Kennedy
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]