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Sacagawea, The Guide, the Wife, the Mother

Sacagawea on the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Sacagawea on the Expedition

Sacagawea on the Expedition

Sacagawea and the Expedition

Born to a Shoshone Indian Chief, Smoked Lodge, and Otter Woman in the 1780s, Sacagawea was captured by an enemy tribe and then sold to Toussaint Charbonneau. Toussaint would later make Sacagawea his wife when she was only twelve. As Lewis and Clark visited their village on their expedition, they hired Toussaint and Sacagawea to be their guide and interpreters.

Sacagawea would be the only woman on the expedition of 33 explorers. Because of her knowledge of plants and berries, she was invaluable. She was pregnant on the trail, and in February 1805, her son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, was born.

The explorers and notably Clark served as "uncles" to her son, and Clark nicknamed him "Pompey" and shortened this to "Pomp."

For most of their trip, other Indians left them alone. The Indians did not find them to be a hunting party since a woman and child were with them. They believed that no hunting party would have a woman and child along.

Sacagawea's Father, Chief Smoked Lodge and husband Toussaint Charbonneau

Chief Smoked Lodge

Chief Smoked Lodge

Toussaint Charbonneau

Toussaint Charbonneau

Meeting her Brother Chief Kontakayak

Prior to crossing the Rocky Mountains, Lewis and Clark knowing they would need horses to cross the mountains, the came across an Indian tribe. Sacagawea recognized the Chief as her brother. Because of this, they agreed to sell some horses to the expedition.

Reaching the Pacific

The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean

Reaching the Pacific Ocean and the Return

The expedition reached its destination, the Pacific Ocean, in November 1805. Clark had mistakenly thought the Columbia River was the Pacific, and it would take another two weeks before he saw the Pacific.

After their arrival, it was decided to build a fort and wait for winter to pass. Even though Sacagawea was a woman, she was so crucial that they allowed her a vote on where to build the fort. It was then decided to make it at Ft. Clatsop, Oregon. The expedition would stay until March 1806.

They returned and reached the Mandan Village. There Clark paid Toussaint $500.33 along with 320 acres of land. Sacagawea received nothing for her services. Toussaint died in 1843 and is buried on the Mandan Indian Reservation.

Here, Clark carved his name and date on a pillar, 7/25/1806. Today, it is called Pompey's Pillar National Monument and is located 25 miles northeast of Billings, Montana, and is on 51 acres, making it the smallest National Monument in the U.S.

Pompey's Pillar

Pompey's Pillar

Pompey's Pillar

End of Expedition

At the end of the expedition, Clark offered to take Pomp to St. Louis and educate him and be his guardian. However, he was not yet weaned, and so the Toussaints returned to the Mandane Village. A couple of years passed, and they then took Pomp to st. Louis along with a daughter Sacagawea had born, Lisette.

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Pomp was educated in st. Louis and at age 18 sent to Europe for further education. No other information can be found on Lisette, who had probably died.

After Pomp returned to St. Louis, he went on to hunt with mountain men Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and James Beckworth. He then left for the '49 gold fields of California but wasn't so fortunate. He later heard of gold in Montana, and he was on his way there when he fell in the Owyhee River, caught pneumonia, and is buried near the town of Danner, Oregon, in the Jordan Valley Hamlet Cemetery. 1805-1866.

Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, AKA "Pomp"

Pomp Chardonneau

Pomp Chardonneau

Sacagawea's Death and Burial

There is some discrepancy about when Sacagawea died and is buried. The oral Shoshone theory is that she left Toussaint, married a Comanche, and returned to Wyoming, where she died in 1884, age 100.

There appears to be controversy about her death and burial and perhaps we may never uncover the true story.

However, another theory is that she died in 1812 after taking ill.

In 1907, Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard, Librarian at the University of Wyoming for over 40 years, mentioned in her book. Sacajawea: Guide and Interpreter of Lewis and Clark.

The book has illustrations, maps, testimonies by Indian Agents, and Shoshone history.


fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on April 21, 2020:

Thank you for your comments. Appreciated!

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on April 19, 2020:

Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked it.

Rosina S Khan on April 18, 2020:

Nice to know about Sacagawea who helped in exploration, found her husband and had a daughter and son. The husband passed away and the son took over exploration and he also passed away. Sacagawea's daughter was already thought of having passed away. Finally there is rumor about how Sacagawea passed away. But what a tragedy- the whole family perished, although they had a strong drive for exploration. Intriguing hub.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 18, 2020:

This is an interesting biographical account of an interesting character.

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