Sacajawea

Sacajawea (săkˌəjəwēˈə, səkäˌ–) [key], Sacagawea –gəwēˈə, or Sakakawea –kəwēˈə, c.1784–1884?, Native North American woman guide on the Lewis and Clark expedition and the only woman to accompany 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. She was a member of the Shoshone, had been captured and sold to a Mandan, and finally was traded to Toussaint Charbonneau, one of whose wives she became. He was interpreter for the expedition. 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 Mandan villages. While some historians date Sacajawea's death around 1812, there are others who claim that she was discovered by a missionary in 1875 and that she actually died in Wyoming in 1884.

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

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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