Essay Sample about Sacagawea and Her Impact on American History

Published: 2022-06-24
Essay Sample about Sacagawea and Her Impact on American History
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories:  American history
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1538 words
13 min read

Sacagawea lived between May 1788 and twentieth December 1812. She was a renowned Lemhi Shoshone woman with a noble heart attributed to her gesture in helping ease Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in the expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory. During the expedition, she acted as a guide and established cultural contacts with Native Americans on her considerable contribution to Lewis and Clark as they traveled thousands of miles west from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean. In the winter of 1804-1805 Captains, Lewis and Clark arrived in Hidatsa Villages in sort of an effective interpreter and a guide upstream the Missouri River. They arrived during winter thus they had to wait for spring to start their expedition. At this time Sacagawea was pregnant with her firstborn and the duo hired her husband as an interpreter and guide because his wife could speak Shoshone language (Camp, Garrett, and Merritt, 2012). In Clarks November 4th, 1804 journal recording he justified their hire of Charbonneau and Sacagawea by saying "a French man by Name Chabonah, who Speaks the Big Belley language visit us, he wished to hire & informed us his 2 Square (squaws) were Snake Indians, we engage (engaged) him to go on with us and take one of his wives to interpret the Snake language ...(5). This was a justification of the considerable effort Sacagawea was to make for the expedition due to her cultural knowledge of the natives. Thus this paper will discuss Sacagawea's knowledge of culture and survival made her a historical figure that highlighted the development of the United States.

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Sacagawea gave birth to Jean Baptiste Charbonneau on the eleventh of February 1805 and the expedition kicked off in April the same year. She was an important element for the success of the expedition because of her interpretation role. She was able to communicate with the tribesmen along the river path they took because of her multilingual ability. For instance, she could communicate and interpret the needs and intention of European Americans to the Shoshone tribe. During the journey, she was able to mediate between the Corp and the different tribes they encountered along the way (Hamel, 2011). Clark states: ...The Interpreter & Squar who were before me at Some distance danced for the joyful Sight, and She made signs to me that they were her nation..."(6). In this quote, Clark was on the impression that Sacagawea identified herself with the native communities they encountered with familiarity. This description showed that she could communicate in different languages, thus, she was of great help in the expedition as an interpretation because of her multilingual ability. Her ability to make peace with different tribes along the journey made the trip adoptable by negotiating with the native communities. During the voyage, Sacagawea agreed to barter the horses with the communities they encountered in the cold barren Rocky Mountains. Her peaceful character helped in negotiating a trade with the different tribes they meet on their route to the Pacific Coast. For instance, she showed her selflessness when Clark records: "One of the Indians had on a robe made of 2 Sea Otter Skins the fur of them were more beautiful than any fur I had ever Seen both Capt. Lewis & my Self-endeavored to purchase the robe with different articles at length we procured it for a belt of blue beads which the Squar-wife of our interpreter Shabono wore around her waist..." (7) In this recording in Clarks journal it was clear that Sacagawea played a significant in maintaining peace by interpreting the Cops' intentions to the hostile tribes to help them pursue their lands as they proceeded with the journey.

Sacagawea had excellent knowledge of the terrain and the routes they followed during the journey. Her competence on the path from the interior to the coastline showed her familiarity with the lands. She was from the place for a long time making her aware of the safe route to use during the expedition because her family had lived in the area. Her brother was the chief of the Shoshone tribe depicting the deep roots and authority of the Indian women with the native population. In her interaction with the expeditors, Sacagawea told Clark that this journey was not her first making her have prior knowledge about the lands and their surroundings. Clark recorded: "The Indian woman informed me that she had been in this plain frequently and knew it well... She said we would discover a gap in the mountains in our direction..." (9). this detailed explanation of her familiarity with the lands showed that she had shown that her frequent visits on the lands made her have the necessary skills she needed as a guide for the expedition. She was also familiar with the way of life of the people and she could make food for the group during their travel be gathering fruits, vegetables, and nuts. She was also aware of the poisonous wild fruits and other foods because of her knowledge of the vegetation in the region. She had lived in the region for a long time thus she was able to distinguish between the best foods safe for human consumption. She was also responsible for making the meals for the group during the journey. In her survival tactics, Sacagawea helped the groups through the optimal route of the Northern Pacific and across the Yellowstone River basin at the Bozeman pass that were considered dangerous zones during the journey (Miyuki 2017). The adoption and understanding of the different types of people the Corps meet of their way she used her survival skills to ensure that the people offered them assistance with whatever they needed. Clark made a recording saying "The Indian woman confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter," and, "the wife of Shabono our interpreter we find reconciles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions a woman with a party of men is a token of peace..." (9) this was to show that Sacagawea was able to deal with the people as survival tactics because their assistance eased the challenges the group encountered on the way.

Sacagawea was a feminine right and leadership representation. Her ability to lead the group to and from the journey made a significant contribution to the party was more than her husband who was also a native. Her loyalty and sacrifice throughout the entire journey showed determination and strength because the journey started only two months after her birth of her firstborn son and she was able to endure the hardships faced by the Corps of Discovery with her young child. All along she is depicted to have carried her son on her back depicting the strength of a woman (Stowe, 2004). Despite the hardships endured during the journey she acts as a provider and makes sure that the group gets enough food during their voyage by gathering fruits, vegetables, and herbs to make the food for the group. The suffragist representation of Sacagawea showed how she was equipped with patriotism and citizenship by faithfully helping strangers on their endeavors without questioning or wanting to have anything in return. Her feminine virtues showed positive elements of women in the community, they were faithful as mothers, wives, and people's servants. She left her home to go on the voyage with her husband without question making a positive element of a faithful a submissive wife (Shah, 2015). Despite her primary role as the guide and interpreter for the group she also made sure that the groups were comfortable and took care of her husband and son. This character depicts Sacagawea's strength as women. In her role as a rights activist made peace with the native tribes, they encountered during the journey as well among themselves. This character showed the capability of women in ensuring peaceful coexistence among the people they are living with.

In conclusion, Sacagawea makes a considerable contribution to the American history by women in the ancient times. Her interpreter and guide help used in the expedition by Lewis and Clark made her contribution very crucial to the historical representation of women in the history of Native America. Her knowledge and skills of the different communities in the region made her important to the success of the expenditure. Sacagawea challenges the modern women on their gender and social roles to ensure that they make considerable efforts in making a difference to the communities that surround them as well as playing their hospitality role for their family and the people in need of their assistance. Sacagawea therefore makes a role model to be emulated by modern women.


Camp, Carl H.; Garrett, Jerry. & Merritt, J. I. Birdwoman, Wife, Mother, Interpreter: Who Was Sacagawea Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation / August 2012 Volume 38, No. 3

Hamel, Tedra. Silencing Sacagawea: Eva Emery Dye & the Origin of an American Myth (1902-1905), New York: Random House, Inc., 2011.

Miyuki, Jimura Sacagawea Leads a Women's Corps of Discovery: Oregon Suffragists, a World's Fair, and the Making of a Sacagawea Myth, 2017.

Shah Diya The Appropriation Of Sacajawea By The Women's Suffrage Movement, University of Utah, 2015.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Women of Influence, Sacagawea: An Explorer of Extraordinary Talent Born: c. 1786; Died: December 20, 1812, About America, 2004.

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