Sacajawea

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Sacajawea

Sacajawea (săkˌəjəwēˈə, səkäˌ–), Sacagawea (–gəwēˈə), or Sakakawea (–kəwēˈə), c.1788–1812?, Native North American woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark expedition, the only woman in the party. She is generally called the Bird Woman in English, although this translation has been challenged, and there has been much dispute about the form of her Native American name and origins. She apparently was a member of the Shoshone, had been captured in a Hidatsa raid and enslaved, and finally was traded to French-Canadian fur trader Toussaint Charbonneau, who referred to her as one of his wives. He was engaged as an interpreter for the expedition, and she proved invaluable as a guide and interpreter when Lewis and Clark reached the upper Missouri River and the mountains from which she had come. On the return journey she and Charbonneau left (1806) the expedition at the Hidatsa-Mandan villages. Some historians date Sacajawea's death around 1812 or 1813; others claim that she was discovered by a missionary in 1875 and died in Wyoming in 1884.

Bibliography

See biography by H. P. Howard (1971).

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