Problems Of Sacagawea Essay, Research Paper
The many hardships faced by a young Shoshone woman plays a significant part in the discovery of what we call America. Unfortunately, much of this was not realized until long after her death. The problems and frustrations Sacagawea had endured all through her life only contributed to her courage and strength, this was proven many times on the expedition of Lewis and Clark.
She was born approximately in 1788, into an Indian village of the Shoshone tribe. Sacagawea lived for the first twelve years of her life with this tribe in the Rocky Mountains region in Idaho. Around this time the most important hardship in her life occurred, for if it didn t Sacagawea couldn t have played an important role in America s Discovery. She was kidnapped by the Hidatsa Indians, enemies of the Shoshone. The enemies armed with guns, easily overtook the Shoshone and killed many of her people.
Sadly, the fact that she was a young Indian girl implied in itself that she faced many frustrations. To begin, all women of that era had little or no freedoms at all. She and other females in her home village received special beatings only given to girls. She did many hard jobs young boys of her age didn t do. Some of the tasks she preformed were; collecting berries and other fruits, finding roots, tending to the horses, cooking, making fires, dressing the skins that made the clothing, making the clothing, collecting wood, and packing items on horses for long trips. As a girl matured, the derogatory name squaw was given to her, basically it meant prostitute to Indians and white men as well. To their husbands they thought of wives (having more than one) as a mere slave and trade, prostituting them off in exchange for goods. This is a perfect example of why Sacagawea did not try to return to her village when she was kidnapped.
Being a slave in the Hidatsa village, she was gambled off to a French fur trader living with them at the time. He was an irritable, abusive, not to forget polygamist middle-aged man named Toussaint Charbonneau. Then at the age of 16 in 1804, Sacagawea and her forceful husband first met the Corps of Discovery. This group of 33 men led by Lewis and Clark; was on a mission by order of the president to discover a water passage through the unexplored northwest that led to the Pacific Ocean. To complete this task they would need the help of Indians along the way, especially the Shoshone. Sacagawea and her husband were hired into the expedition as translators and guides to help them on their way.
However, before the trip even started another traveler came into play. At the age of 16, on February 11, 1805; her son was born. Sacagawea gave birth to a baby boy, named both Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, and Pomp. There is no doubt that this was extremely hard occurrence; as a result of the difficult delivery she had because of the primitive, unsanitary conditions in that time. Also because of the fact that they were about to embark on a long journey when the first of spring arrived. The language barrier among all people then must have been an unfortunate frustration. Many translations had to be made before solutions to problems were solved. Sacagawea and Charbonneau both helped much in this area. Another thing Sacagawea did along the expedition was picked roots and other berries for food and medicine uses.
During the first few months of the expedition, Lewis and Clark did not give Sacagawea the respect and dignity she deserved. Only long after the beginning of the arduous journey did they truly comprehend the significance of Sacagawea. Probably the time when this was the most understood was when a flash flood occurred, nearly drowning many people. She boldly saved many things such as precious instruments for the expedition. In June of 1805, Sacagawea became very sick and nearly died numerous times. She was bled several to try and cure the infection they thought might have been Venereal Disease. This alone was nearly a lethal situation.
Once the expedition was complete; Sacagawea, Charbonneau, and their son remained at the Hidatsa village on August 14, 1806. Charbonneau only received $500.33 and 320 acres of land for the job. Six years after the expedition Sacagawea died on December 22, 1812 at age 25 of putrid fever. However, Sacagawea s story does not end there. Only to add more confusion onto her name, an old woman claiming to be Sacagawea died at age 100 in a Shoshone reservation. However, because of the birth records of this woman her identity was proven false. Sadly, many historians and history books portray this woman to be Sacagawea. A monument was erected at the burial site of this woman as well, and remains there today.