In order to understand how important Sacagawea was to the Lewis and Clark's mission to the Pacific, her history and the history of her people must be told.
An explorer known as Captain Clarke wrote that in order to pronounce the Indian words correctly, every letter sound must be made. There has been much debate on the spelling of the young explorer's name, since the letters to not match the sound (ex. "Sacajawea" does not match "Sah-cah' gah-we-ah). In fact, in finding her name written on multiple documents from various explores, there have been seventeen different spellings with only the "g" matching in all of them. When her name is divided in two, the Hidatsas translation is "Bird (Sacaga) Woman (Wea)" (Sacagawea, PBS 2005).
In 1788, Sacagawea was born to the Shoshone tribe, (otherwise known as the "Snake Nation") which was located in the Rocky Mountain region. If their territory was still around today, it would cover the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Sacagawaea's tribe made up the more northern/eastern part of the territory, lived in tepee's, and were superb buffalo hunters. These people, called Lemhi Shoshone, were great warriors and excellent on horses. It was around this time (1790's) that the Lemhi were forced to retreat to the Rocky Mountains due to their enemy tribes, Blackfeet, Atsinas and Hidatsas, invading their land. These enemies carried muskets so they were much more forceful in making the Lemhi leave their land. The Lemhi would plan hunting trips back to their homeland when the village was terribly scarce on food. These trips were very dangerous, and on one of the trips in 1800 the Lemhi men were caught by the Hidatsas. The men were beaten, tortured, and killed while the rest of the village (located in present day Idaho) was destroyed and many were taken captive (Shoshone, PBS 2005).
It was during this massacre that Sacagawea (approximately 12 years old) was kidnapped. She was... [continues]
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