Sacajawea "Bird Woman"

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Sacajawea "Bird Woman"

Also Known As: "Sacagawea", "Sakakawea"
Birthplace: Lemhi County, Idaho, United States
Death: December 20, 1812 (24)
Fort Manuel Lisa, North Dakota
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Smoked Lodge and Otter Woman
Wife of Toussaint Charbonneau
Mother of J. B. "Pompey" Charbonneau; Lissette Charbonneau and Ticannaf Charbonneau Comanche Indian
Sister of Chief Kontakayak (aka Tamkahanka); N. N. and Cameahwait

Occupation: Native American Guide for Lewis and Clark expedition
Label: Legend has it that she did not die in 1812 but instead left to rejoin her tribe lived a long life there.
Managed by: Stephanie Loeffert Albright
Last Updated:

About Sacajawea "Bird Woman"


This Sacajawea appears to be the same as the Sacagawea Charbonneau listed at

Absolute History

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In the early stages of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, at Fort Mandan on the Missouri River, an interpreter was engaged. This French-Canadian trader was named Toussaint Charbonneau. He brought along his young wife, Sacajawea, and their eight-week-old baby boy, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, strapped to his mother's back on a cradleboard.

Sacajawea was the daughter of a Shoshone chieftain. By the time the expedition reached Shoshone country, the explorers desperately needed horses. They encountered Sacajawea's band, now headed by her older brother Cameahwait due to the recent death of their father.

Elated to show her family the baby but grief stricken over her father's death, Sacajawea nevertheless arranged for horses and supplies. She and her husband accompanied the expedition to the Pacific and part of the way back, serving for 19 months. Charbonneau was paid around $500, but Sacajawea proved to be a more valuable guide and interpreter.

Sacajawea then disappeared from history. It was reported that she died of a fever in her 20s in 1812, although there were rumors that she returned to the Shoshone and lived until 1884.

Note: Sauvagesse was not really a "name" but a description. It's the feminine form of Sauvage, which translates to "savage."

Idaho's Hall of Fame

Sacajawea served as interpreter and guided for the Lewis and Clark Expedition from 1804 to 1805. The long journey began in St. Louis Missouri and ended at the Pacific Ocean. Sacajawea was born near Salmon in the Lemhi Valley about 1790. She was the daughter of a Shoshone chief, and as a young child of about 10 summers was taken captive by members of the Hidatsa tribe. Toussaint Charbonneau, a French Tracker and guide, living among the Hidatsa took notice of her and made her his wife. Lewis and Clark found Charbonneau at Fort Mandan and engaged him as interpreter for their expedition with the specific understanding that Sacajawea be allowed to accompany the party. As the weeks turned into months, Sacajawea proved more of an asset to the expedition than did Charbonneau. She was familiar with Idaho, knew the different Indian dialects, and showed different Indian tribes along the way that this party, with a woman and child, was friendly and not bent on war. There are differing views on what happened to her after the expedition. One is that she returned to the West in 1811 only to die of fever in 1812.The other is that she lived for some time among the Comanche and later returned to her own people on the Wind River Reservation where she died in 1884.The academic controversy about Sacajawea's death date and place has not been resolved to the satisfaction of everyone. But as David Crowded said in Tales of Early Idaho, she wasa woman of unusual courage and the position she occupies in American history as the heroine of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is deserved and secure. Sacajawea was inducted into Idaho's Hall of Fame at the Pocatello Induction Ceremonies in August 1995.


The Faces of Sacagawea

There is no known image of Sacagawea that was made of her during her lifetime, so no one can be sure what she really looked like. Yet because the Shoshone woman has been the subject of so many sculptures and paintings, especially since about 1900, we have a rich heritage of artists' conceptions to contemplate. Meriwether Lewis, in his journal entry for August 19, 1805, left us a brief description of the general physical appearance of the Shoshone people, including their manner of dress. Some artists have taken it into account, others not.

Visual images of Sacagawea will be the primary focus of this episode, and more will be added to the gallery as we acquire them. but some short essays also will be introduced from time to time. Topics will include her name—its spellings, pronunciations, and possible meanings; her role in the Lewis and Clark expedition as an interpreter; her own work; and her her return home and her later years; and the history of the controversies surrounding the largely fictitious persona that scant facts have engendered. See, for example, the Hidatsa Indian legend about her death. Also, there's the long and increasingly bitter history of the noun by which Lewis and Clark occasionally referred to her in their journals—squaw.

Source:The Faces of Sacagawea | Discovering Lewis & Clark ® There is no known image of Sacagawea that was made of her during her lifetime, ... Sacagawea, Jean Baptiste, and Seaman ... Photography by David Nelson.


NOTICE: It has come to my attention that this cannot possibly be a real photograph of Sacajawea, as she died prior to the invention of photography. My best guess is that this is a photo of a wax museum piece, or a staged/posed recreation.

Photography was commercially introduced in 1869. Sacagawea lived between 1788 and 1812. So, that would have been before photography was around. I just know the website has the photo up and others. The photos are either titled or have the names of the person in the photo in the title. So, I don’t know if is another Indian woman named Sacajawea, but if that is the case they should explain that. Or they are trying to mislead people.

I just know that from all I have read, there are no known pictures of Sacajawea and I would think if this photo were real, it would probably be known by now.

“Real Picture of Sacajawea?”

Best Answer: she was mid-teens, 15 or so, when she met l&c. she died at 25 or so (1812), so that was well before the permanent photography was invented. As far as i understand it, there is not even a painting or drawing of her, so she is more like an artist rendition. later artists tried to portray her with shoshone features in speculating what she could have looked like, but this was long after she passed.
Source: Yahoo Answers


Oral stories tell of the most famous Shoshone people ever - Sacajawea and her Métis husband,Toussaint Charbonneau - according to the Shoshone Bannock. 1787-1812. The 1804-1806 (28 months long) Lewis and Clark Expedition, where she acted as an interpreter/translator and guide, as did Toussaint Charbonneau (Sacajawea’s husband).

Sacajawea was kidnapped by Haidasta tribe at the age of 9, and later was purchased by the French Métis trapper, Toussaint Charbonneau, at the young age of only 16 to become his wife. He was then also hired to join Louis and Clark on their 28-month “core of discovery” expedition heading westward due to his skills as a guide, and because of his wife’s excellent translation, interpretation and guide skills. Sacajawea’s presence, and that if her new baby who was born in the trail shortly after they embarked, giving other native Americans a signal that their expedition was peaceful. Sacajawea’s presence also turned out to be incredibly invaluable during their trek, as she found, identified and taught others about the many medicinal plants and herbs, as well as which ones were edible vs which ones were not. Sacajawea’s also responsible for the survival of Lewis & Clark’s journals; which she saved when they fell into the water after their boat flooded. After the expedition, Charbonneau and Sacajawea together went to live with the Haidasta for 3 years. They then moved to St. Louis, Missouri on William Clark’s extended invitation; where Sacajawea had a daughter in 1811, and a son who was already enrolled in a Christian school. In 2000 the US minted a $1 coin after Sacajawea. It’s said Sacajawea died of Typhoid at the age of 97 (according to the Shoshone). But only after leaving her abusive husband, Charbonneau, and fled him shortly after moving to St. Louis, Sacajawea fled to join a group of Comanches under the name “Purivo”. Making her 97 years old. This has been verified by a Sioux physician specializing in tribal anthropology, and indeed Sacajawea lived until she was 97 years old dying of Typhoid. This Sioux physician also confirmed that Sacajawea was indeed Purivo!!

Sacajawea - Stolen, held captive and sold, eventually reunited the Shoshone Indians. She was an interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark in 1805-1806 with her husband Toussaint Charbonneau. She navigated carrying her son, Jean Baptiste, on her back. She traveled thousands of miles from the Dakotas to the Pacific Ocean. The explorers said she was cheerful, never complained, and proved to be invaluable. She served as an adviser and caretaker, and she is legendary for her perseverance and resourcefulness.
All of above added by Janet Milburn 11/6/17


"The wife of [Charbonneau] 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." ---William Clark

Find A Grave Memorial # 2321

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Sacajawea "Bird Woman"'s Timeline

May 1788
Lemhi County, Idaho, United States
February 11, 1805
Fort Mandan, ND
February 22, 1812
Fort Manuel, Missouri or Montana, United States
December 20, 1812
Age 24
Fort Manuel Lisa, North Dakota