Sacajawea The Shoshoni Woman

Born (1787 – 1875)

Sacajawea born 1787-1875 A.D., also known as Ceesonnenee was from the Shoshoni Tribe. She was the daughter of a medicine man and was referred to as “The Bird Woman.” When she was fourteen, while she and her brother Cameahwait were racing, a Hidatsa war party, from a village on the Missouri River in what is now called North Dakota, attacked the capl of her people. Her father, the Shoshuni Chief was killed in this battle. Sacajawea and an older black slave girl tried to escape across the river near their camp, but were captured. Her brother thought she was dead.

The war party then set out for home with their prisoners, but the older black slaved girl of the Washitaw Tribe of Native Americans, escaped one night, leaving the little girl Sacajawea a lonely captive. She was carried to the Hidatsa Village in North Dakota, and was sold to Toussaint Charbbonneau, the fur trader and French-Canadian trapper. He took Sacajawea as a captive and placed her in the care of his wife, who was also a captive from the Shoshoni Native Americans.

In 1804 A.D., when Sacajawea was 18 years old, Charbonneau took her for his second wife, however Toussaint Charbboneau never respected Sacajawea enough to marry her. He knew that it was against the American and French law, for them to marry a Native American, or African Slave, or Aborigine. According to the Act of 1705 A.D. which states, in part: …”Whatsoever white man or woman being free shall intermarry with a negro shall be committed to prison for six months without bail, and pay 10 pounds to the use of the parish. Ministers marrying such persons shall pay 10,000 pounds of tobacco.”

The crew, camped for the winter at Fort Mandan in North Dakota, which is where Charbonneau was also spending the winter with the young beautiful Shoshoni girl Sacajaea. When winter broke, Charbbonneau was hired to guide Lewis and Clark due to his knowledge of the country where he trapped. Charbbonneau was the French interpreter for Lewis and Clark.

On February 11, 1805 A.D., Meriwether Lewis writes: About five o’clock this evening one of the wives of Charbono was delivered of a fine boy. It is worthy of remark that this was the first child this woman had born, and as common in such cases her labour was tedious and the pain violent;” Sacajawea gave birth to a baby boy, whom she called “Pomp”,the Shoshuni word for “First Born.”

Charbbonneau was specifically instructed to bring Sacajawea with her baby boy Jean Baptiste, for a number of reasons. First of all, the presence of a woman and baby would establish the peaceful nature of the party. Secondly a native translator and negotiator with knowledge of the languages on the west coast tribes, customs and tribes of the country was essential, while Ben York performed the same service for the east coast tribes.

 Sacajawea served as a translator for the Plains Native American Tribes interpreting wha was said to her. Her knowledge of the terrain and mountain passes saved weeks of travel time. Her ability to speak and negotiate with native tribes allowed the expeditiion to keep fresh horses and food all along the way. when food was scarce, Sacajawea gathered and prepared roots, nuts, berries, and other edible plants in order to provide tasty nourishment. 

Upon the end of the expedition, Touissant Charbbonneau was paid and dismissed by Lewis and Clark for his services, on August 17, 1806 A.D. Sacajawea received some blue beads by Clark. Charbbonneau returned to his homeland leaving behind Sacajawea and their son Jean Baptiste, who later in life becamse a western traveler and trader in Haiti.

Clark was so taken with Sacajawea, and so conerned about her welfare at the hands of the abusive and wife-beating Charbonneau, that he proposed taking the infant boy to St. Lousi to be raised in safety.

For her efforts in making the expedition successful, Lewis and Clark named a river “Sacajawea”in her honor. On August 20, 1806 A.D. William Clark writes a letter to Charbbonneau stating: “You have been a long time with me and have conducted your self in such a manner as to gain my friendship, your woman who accompanied you that long dangerous and fatigueing rout to the Pacific Ocean and back deserved a greater reward for her attention and servies on that rout than we had in our power to give her at the mandans. As to your little son (my boy pomp) you well know my fondness ofr him and my anxiety to take and raise him as my own child. I once more tell you if you will bring your son Baptiest to me I will educate him and treat him as my own child- I do no forget the promise which I made to you and shall now repeet them that you may be certain- Charbono, if you wish to live with the white people, and will come to me I will give you a piece of land and furnish you with horses, cows, and hogs.. Wishing you and your family great suckess and with anxious expectations of seeing my little dancing boy Baptiest I shall remain your friend.” Sacajawea did take her son to William Clark in St. Louis where he was raised as Clark’s own.

The Sacagawea dollar (also known as the “golden dollar”) is a United States dollar coin that has been minted every year since 2000,although not released for general circulation from 2002 through 2008 and again from 2012 onward due to its general unpopularity with the public and low business demand for the coin. These coins have a copper core clad by manganese brass, giving them a distinctive golden color. The coin features an obverseby Glenna Goodacre. From 2000 to 2008, the reverse featured an eagle design by Thomas D. Rogers. Since 2009, the reverse of the Sacagawea dollar has been changed yearly, with each design in the series depicting a different aspect of Native American cultures.

The coin was first suggested as a replacement for the Susan B. Anthony dollar, which proved useful for vending machine operators and mass transit systems despite being unpopular with the public. The Statue of Liberty was originally proposed as the design subject, but Sacagawea, the Shoshoneguide of the Lewis and Clark expedition, was eventually chosen.

The new dollar coin was heavily marketed by the Mint in a series of print, radio, and television advertisements, as well as Mint partnerships with Walmart and Cheerios. However, the Sacagawea dollar did not prove popular with the public, and mintage dropped sharply in the second year of production. Production of Sacagawea dollars continued, since 2007 in parallel with the U.S. Presidential dollars. In 2012,mintage numbers were reduced by over 90%, in line with a similar reduction for the Presidential Dollars, due to large stockpiles of unused dollar coins.

The Mint planned to issue the Sacagawea design in 22-karat gold as well, but this idea was quickly abandoned after the Mint’s authority to strike the coins was questioned, and the Mint has retained ownership of the few such coins produced. Soon after initial production of the dollar, it was noticed that a few of the dollar coins were erroneously struck with the obverse of a state quarter and the normal reverse.

 

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