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How Has Sacagawea Contributed to Make America What It Is Today?

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How has Sacagawea contributed to make America what it is today? Were her skills more superior and beneficial than her husband's on the expedition? Was she a replaceable figure in the Corps of Discovery? Sacagawea has been remembered for being an interpreter on the expedition to find the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. For starters, Sacagawea symbolizes women's worth and independence, several statues and plaques have been erected in her memory, and doing much to spread the story of her contributions. I will be writing why she is a respected woman for her contributions in the 1800's and why it is important that she is recognized. Sacagawea guided the Lewis and Clark expedition, helped the Corps catch food, and taught them how to survive the weather conditions to helping the men survive. The expedition would not have been successful or expanded westward without the interpreting, guidance, and survival skills Sacagawea brought to keep Corps of Discovery alive and strong.


Born in 1788, Sacagawea was a Shoshone Indian, otherwise known as the "Snake Nation". The Shoshone tribe was located in the Rocky Mountain region. If their territory was still around today, it would cover the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. According to Christina Niven, Sacagawea's tribes made up the more northern/eastern part of the territory, lived in tepees, and were superb buffalo hunters (Christina Niven). According to Lewis' journal entry on August 19, 1805, Sacagawea's attire consisted of a dress made out of deerskin. It was an example of everyday working style of the Shoshone Indians. Sacagawea was first born with the name of, Boinaiv, which means "Grass Maiden." At the age of twelve she was camped near the Missouri River in Montana. Around 1800, the Shoshoni's were intruded by Hidatsa warriors. Sacagawea and many other girls and boys were taken back to the Hidatsa village (North Dakota), and held as prisoners. When Boinaiv arrived at the village she was renamed Sacagawea, meaning "Bird Woman". The reason she was renamed in the village, was that she was fascinated by birds that flew overhead. She was enslaved in the Hidatsa village from 1800 to mid 1804.

Toussaint Charbonneau, an independent trader, who was associated with the Hidatsa villages, traded Sacagawea and made her his wife in the summer of 1804. She was just sixteen, soon to be pregnant with her first child. On November 4, 1804.

The setting of the expedition began with Lewis and Clark On May 14th, 1804 in Dubois, now known as Indiana. Sacagawea and her husband joined 6 months later in North Dakota. The incentive, according to Thomas Jefferson was to, "Explore the Northwest Territory in order to observe a transcontinental route and natural resources" (Thomas Jefferson). When Lewis and Clark entered Bismarck, North Dakota, there they met Sacagawea and Toussaint



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