Sacagawea Biography

Sacagawea (aka Sakakawea or Sacajawea) was a Shoshone Native American woman, who helped explorers William Clark and Meriwether Lewis and their 'Corps of Discovery' on their way to the Pacific Ocean serving as an interpreter and a guide.

Sacajawea biography and picture

She was born around 1788 in a Shoshone tribe. Around 12 of age she was captured by Hidatsa Indians who were enemies to her tribe. She lived with them and was raised as a member of the tribe until she was sold to a Canadian trapper who took her for his wife.

As a second wife to Toussaint Charbonneau she became pregnant at an early age of 16.

At that time the Corps of Discovery arrived in the area to spend the winter. Desperate in need for someone who is familiar with the language and Indian customs, Clark and Lewis interviewed Charbonneau for the job but then quickly opted for his wife, the young Sacagawea who was fluent in both Hidatsa and Shoshone language.

The decision made a huge impact on their further exploration, due to work and help Sacagawea provided.

She served as a general translator and a guide. Translating Shoshone to Hidatsa to her husband, who then translated into French to several others in the party who knew French.

Giving birth to her son at the time, she was traveling with her baby on her shoulders during the whole trip to the Pacific.

That kind of posture was settling to the other Native American tribes, they encountered along the way, because it was uncommon for parties to travel with infants and it bared a mark of peaceful manners of the travelers.

She also worked as a negotiator in the trading with the other natives they encountered. Her knowledge of the medicine herbs proved more than useful. She soon became an important part of the expedition.

During the trip, expedition encountered a Shoshone tribe and it turned out that the tribe chief was her own brother Cameahwait.

Expedition was able to buy horses from her brother's tribe and got across the Rocky Mountains.

Upon reaching the Pacific Ocean, Sacagawea gained a vote deciding for where they would build camp during the winter.

During the expedition, Clark became fond of her son, and during the back trip to south even offered help to educate young Jean Baptiste.

Once the expedition ended, Sacagawea and her husbant spent three years among the Hidatsa tribe and afterwards accepted Clarks invitation to settle in St. Louis.

In 1809 Toussaint Charbonneau was offered land and Jean Baptiste was entrusted to William Clark who enlisted him to a boarding school.

Most probably somewhere about a year later, Sacagawea gave birth to a daugther, Lizette.

Toussaint abandoned farming after a few months, going with Sacagawea to Fort.

Track records of Sacagawea become vague after this point. Some historical documents suggest Sacagawea died in 1812 of a "putrid fever". She was aproximately 25 at the time of her death.

Jean Baptiste and Lizette Baptiste were adopted by William Clark.