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All Rights Reserved
An Original Play by Mack Lewis
Originally published in Scholastic’s Storyworks magazine
Cast of Characters:
Bird Girl—Sacagawea (sak-uh-juh-WAY-uh)
as a young girl
Jumping Fish—a Shoshoni (shoh-SHOH-nee) girl
Toussaint Charbonneau—a French trader
Hidatsa (hih-DAHT-suh)—an enemy warrior
Capt. Meriweather Lewis
Capt. William Clark
Chief Cameahwait (cah-MAY-ah-wait)
—a Shoshone chief
1800, Near a Shoshoni Village in what is now Idaho
NARRATOR: A man from the village has
ordered Bird Girl to gather cattails from the
stream. As she works she hears her friend,
Jumping Fish, screaming in the distance.
JUMPING FISH: Bird Girl! Run! Warriors
attack the village!
Sacagawea depiction by E.S. Paxson (Public domain)
Remembering Sacagawea -- Page 3 of 10 ReadAloudPlays.com ©2009 Mack Lewis. All Rights Reserved
NARRATOR: Jumping Fish plunges into the
stream. Bird Girl follows. They try to hide in the
BIRD GIRL: Who are they?
JUMPING FISH: Hidatsas! They come for
HISTORIAN: Native tribes often attacked one
another, taking horses, weapons—and slaves.
NARRATOR: A painted warrior appears on
horseback. The girls run, but a moment later
they are caught and carried away. They are
headed to another village many days to the
BIRD GIRL: Will we have to marry him?
JUMPING FISH: No, we are still too
young. We will be slaves for the women
of his village.
HISTORIAN: In some tribes,
warriors had more than one wife.
Bird Girl was just twelve years
old. Yet in only a few years,
she would be old enough to
be taken as a wife.
NARRATOR: The war
party pauses. The
warrior leaves his
horse and goes
to confer with
the others. Jumping Fish quietly
slides off the horse.
JUMPING FISH (whispering): Come, Bird Girl.
We can escape.
BIRD GIRL: You go, Jumping Fish. He might
not notice if one is missing, but he will surely
JUMPING FISH: I will tell our people. Perhaps
they will send a war party to rescue you.
BIRD GIRL: I am not important to our people,
and they do not have guns to fight. No, this is
my fate. Goodbye, Jumping Fish. Remember
A Hidatsa Village, a few years later
HISTORIAN: Life changed little for Bird Girl
among the Hidatsas. She was ordered about just
as she had been in the
Shoshoni village. Her name
was changed to Bird Woman,
or in her new language,
NARRATOR: Sacagawea is doing chores
when a French-Canadian fur trapper comes
to the village hoping to trade with the chief.
HISTORIAN: Toussaint Charbonneau had
learned the language of the Hidatsa tribe.
CHARBONNEAU: Chief, I will trade
you this rifle for ten buffalo skins.
HIDATSA: Not good trade. Five skin
CHARBONNEAU: Not a good trade
for me, Chief. Let’s make a
game of it.
believed he could trick the Hidatsas into better
deals by gambling.
NARRATOR: Sacagawea watches him take two
strange-looking stones from his sack. He
explains how to play.
CHARBONNEAU: If you roll a seven, you may
have the rifle. But if you roll anything else, you
must give me ten skins.
Remembering Sacagawea -- Page 4 of 10 ReadAloudPlays.com ©2009 Mack Lewis. All Rights Reserved
NARRATOR: The Chief thinks for a moment.
He is curious about the game. He rolls. A three
and a four turn up. Sacagawea is happy to see
Charbonneau give up the rifle.
HIDATSA: Good trade.
CHARBONNEAU: Let’s try again. I have two
bags of coffee. Very strong. If you roll a seven,
you take the coffee. But if you roll anything
else, you must give me ten buffalo skin.
NARRATOR: The chief seems confident now.
He rolls a two and a five. Sacagawea is startled
by his shout.
HIDATSA: Trade more!
CHARBONNEAU: I haven’t anything else to
HIDATSA: You lose, you stay here as slave.
CHARBONNEAU: That’s worth more than ten
NARRATOR: The chief glances around. He
sees Sacagawea watching.
HIDATSA: You win, you take Sacagawea!
NARRATOR: Charbonneau examines her.
CHARBONNEAU: She seems strong enough.
She will make a good wife.
NARRATOR: Sacagawea watches as the Chief
rolls the dice. This time, it’s Charbonneau who
shouts for joy.
CHARBONNEAU: Four! Good trade!
NARRATOR: The chief takes Sacagawea and
places her hand in Charbonneau’s. She is now
Fall 1804, Upper Missouri River
HISTORIAN: Charbonneau remained in the
area, sometimes working for the local tribes as
an interpreter—a person who helped them
communicate with French traders.
NARRATOR: Sacagawea is pregnant when a
large group arrives in the area.
CHARBONNEAU: These men are from the
Corps of Discovery. They’ve been sent by the
American president to find a passage to the
CHARBONNEAU: A great water far from here.
They will need an interpreter. I will offer them
SACAGAWEA: But I am with child.
CHARBONNEAU (irritated): If only the
Hidatsas would take you back! The men plan on
staying here through the winter. By then you
will give birth.
Winter 1804, Fort Mandan
HISTORIAN: The Corps of Discovery was
headed by Captains Meriweather Lewis and
William Clark. To wait out the winter, they built
a fort nearby. Sacagawea’s baby is born.
NARRATOR: The time draws near for the
expedition to depart. Captain Clark finds Lewis
frowning over his maps.
LEWIS: We’ll need horses to pass the
mountains. The whole expedition depends on it.
Remembering Sacagawea -- Page 5 of 10 ReadAloudPlays.com ©2009 Mack Lewis. All Rights Reserved
CLARK: The Hidatas say they got their horses
from the Shoshoni. We can trade with them.
LEWIS: The Shoshoni language is obscure.
We’d have to communicate well to trade.
Indian woman is
Shoshoni, and he
has asked to hire
them with us? An
Indian woman and
her newborn baby?
Think of the
hardships of the
CLARK: We’ll take her as far as the Shoshoni
camp. She’ll want to reunite with her people.
LEWIS: And what of the husband? The Indians
insult him behind his back.
CLARK: But he has a valuable wife.
LEWIS: Very well. Let us hire his services—but
only if the Indian woman comes along.
Spring 1805, Upper Missouri River
HISTORIAN: The Corps set out for Shoshoni
territory that spring. During the trip, Sacagawea
would frequently prove her worth.
LEWIS: The Indian woman has performed
HISTORIAN: On two occasions, when boat
nearly overturned, Sacagawea saved important
papers and journals.
CLARK: We’re fortunate we didn’t lose her.
HISTORIAN: She almost died of an infection,
then was nearly lost in a flash flood.
LEWIS: It was a good decision to bring her.
months have passed. The
group makes camp.
Sacagawea turns to
people are nearby!
keep that to ourselves
until the time is right.
You’re just anxious to
find your kin. Don’t get
any ideas about staying.
SACAGAWEA: Tell them! If we don’t find the
village soon, there will not be time to pass
through the mountains.
NARRATOR: Sacagawea tugs on his arm and
gestures toward the captains. Charbonneau loses
his patience and strikes her across the face.
CHARBONNEAU: You’re my property, not
there’s. I’ll decide what and when to tell them.
HISTORIAN: Like many Native women,
Sacagawea was accustomed to being beaten.
NARRATOR: She lowers her head, awaiting
another blow. But Captain Clark grabs
Charbonneau’s wrist and twists it backwards.
CLARK: There shall be no beatings under my
command. If you strike her again, you shall be
dismissed and we’ll leave you in the wilderness!
NARRATOR: Sacagawea dares not look up.
CLARK: Now, tell me what she was saying.
Lewis & Clark on the lower Columbia.
Painted in 1905 by Charles Marion Russell. (PD)
Remembering Sacagawea -- Page 6 of 10 ReadAloudPlays.com ©2009 Mack Lewis. All Rights Reserved
CHARBONNEAU: She says—she says the
Shoshoni are near.
Summer 1805, Shoshoni Camp
HISTORIAN: A few days later, the Corps made
contact with the Shoshoni.
NARRATOR: Sacagawea kneels quietly, her
head down, waiting for the Chief to speak.
Sacagawea looks up.
There is something
familiar about the
says, “I am much
pleased. I am much
difficult and slow. The
Shoshone to Hidatsa,
then to French, and
finally into English.
NARRATOR: Captain Lewis tells Cameahwait
that they need horses, and he can trade him
guns. Sacagawea translates, but she is troubled.
SACAGAWEA: The white men say the guns...
NARRATOR: She pauses. She realizes the
Chief is her brother.
SACAGAWEA: ...the guns will protect you
from your enemies and make hunting easier.
NARRATOR: Cameahwait likes this idea.
Sacagawea can hardly sit still.
CAMEAHWAIT: Ah-hi-e! Ah-hi-e!
SACAGAWEA: He is much pleased. He is...
NARRATOR: But she cannot contain herself.
She jumps to her feet and hugs the Chief.
SACAGAWEA: Brother, it is me, Bird Girl!
He is more interested
in the guns.
Bird Girl, ask when
we will receive the
Sacagawea returns to
her place, lowering
her head. The
HISTORIAN: In the
end the Expedition
horses in exchange for rifles to be delivered in
Summer 1805, Shoshoni Camp
NARRATOR: The Corps prepares to depart.
Sacagawea finds her old friend, Jumping Fish.
This famous mural by E.S. Paxson appears in capital
buildings along the Corps of Discovery Route (PD)
Remembering Sacagawea -- Page 7 of 10 ReadAloudPlays.com ©2009 Mack Lewis. All Rights Reserved
JUMPING FISH: Bird Woman, it is said around
the village that you are free to stay with us.
SACAGAWEA: It is true. I have been freed.
JUMPING FISH: I am much pleased.
looks toward the soldiers
white men say the Great
Water seems to go on
forever. They say there
are monster fish big
enough to swallow our
(laughing): I do not
SACAGAWEA (sadly): I am sorry, Jumping
Fish. I will not be staying here.
JUMPING FISH: Why not? Are you ashamed
of your people?
SACAGAWEA: When I was taken as a slave,
no one came for me because I was not
important. The Hidatsas traded me away in a
silly game because I was not important. When I
was near death with sickness, my husband made
me fetch apples, because I was not important.
…I will not be remembered in the stories of our
HISTORIAN: Because Native American
women were commonly treated badly,
Sacagawea’s words would not have moved
SACAGAWEA: I have a place among the white
men on this journey. I will see the Great Water
and its monster fish. I will
go places our people will
never go. And in their
stories, the White Man will
Ambrose, Stephen E., Lewis
& Clark: Voyage of
Discovery, 1998, National
Anderson, Irving W., The
Sacagawea Mystique: Her Age, Name, Role and
Final Destiny, COLUMBIA: Fall 1999; Vol. 13, No.
Bakeless, John, ed. The Journals of Lewis &
Clark, 1964, Penguin
Butterfield, Bonnie “Spirit Wind Walker,”
Captive, Indian Interpreter, Great American Legend:
Her Life and Death, 1998
White, Alana J., Sacagawea: Westward with Lewis
& Clark, 1997, Enslow Publ., Springfield, NJ
Remembering Sacagawea -- Page 8 of 10 ReadAloudPlays.com ©2009 Mack Lewis. All Rights Reserved
Select Journal Entries regarding Sacagawea from the Journals of Lewis & Clark
11 February 1805:
About five o'clock this evening, one of the wives of Charbonneau was delivered of a fine boy.
It is worthy of remark that this was the first child which this woman had born, and as is common in
such cases her labor was tedious and the pain violent. Mr. Jussome informed me that he had frequently
administered a small portion of the rattle of the rattlesnake, which he assured me had never failed to
produce the desired effect-that of hastening the birth of the child. Having the rattle of a snake by me, I
gave it to him, and he administered two rings of it to the
woman, broken in small pieces with the fingers, and added
to a small quantity of water. ~ Captain Lewis
28 July 1805
Our present camp is precisely on the spot that the
Snake Indians were encamped at the time the Minnetarees
of the Knife River first came in sight of them five years
since. From hence they retreated about three miles up
Jefferson's River and concealed themselves in the woods.
The Minnetarees pursued, attacked them, killed four men,
four women, a number of boys, and made prisoners of all
the females and four boys. Sacagawea, our Indian woman,
was one of the female prisoners taken at that time, though I
cannot discover that she shows any emotion of sorrow in
recollecting this event, or of joy in being again restored to
her native country. If she has enough to eat and a few trinkets to wear, I believe she would be perfectly
content anywhere. ~ Captain Lewis
6 January 1806
The Indian woman was very importunate to be permitted to go, and was therefore indulged.
She observed that she had traveled a long way with us to see the great water, and now that the
monstrous fish was also to be seen, she thought it very hard she could not be permitted to see either. ~
19 October 1805
The Indian woman confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever
accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter. ~ Captain Clark
14 May 1805
. . . our papers [logs], Instruments, books, medicine, a great proportion of our merchandize, and
in short almost every article indispensibly necessary…. the articles which floated out was nearly all
caught by [Sacagawea] . . . ~ Captain Clark
17 August 1805
…the Indian woman proved to be a sister of the Chief Cameahwait. The meeting of those
people was really affecting, particularly between Sah-cah-gar-we-ah and an Indian woman, who had
been taken prisoner at the same time with her and who, had afterwards escaped . . . ~ Captain Lewis
Remembering Sacagawea -- Page 9 of 10 ReadAloudPlays.com ©2009 Mack Lewis. All Rights Reserved
Reading Comprehension – Bird Girl Quiz
Name: _____________________________________________________ Date: _________________
1. What are the “strange-looking stones”
A. gold nuggets
B. painted rocks
C. shapes carved from the tusks of wild boar
2. What is meant by the word “confer” in
the first scene?
C. an evergreen tree
D. consult maps and check bearings
3. At the end of Scene Three, Charbonneau is
irritated with Sacagawea. Why?
A. She doesn’t know what an ocean is.
B. She’s become a burden to him.
C. He thinks having a pregnant wife will keep
him from getting hired as an interpreter.
D. All of the above.
4. Can you blame her? Why doesn’t
Sacagawea understand the word ocean?
A. He said it in French instead of English.
B. Neither she nor her people had ever seen an
C. She did understand it; she was just
trying to irritate him.
D. All of the above.
5. In Scene Four, which answers show what
Captain Lewis is implying when he says “the
Indians insult him behind his back”?
A. the Indians are rude
B. Charbonneau is a buffoon
C. Charbonneau can’t be trusted
D. they probably shouldn’t hire him
6. “Charbonneau believed he could trick the
Hidatsas.” How is his game a trick?
7. That Sacagawea chooses not to stay with
her people is a key point of the play. Why does
she make this decision?
II. The author intends for you to draw conclusions about the play’s main characters. Match each character with
a descriptive word from the box, then tell which line or lines from the play support you’re position.
Jumping Fish: simple “Sacagawea’s words would not have moved .
Jumping Fish.” .
8. Charbonneau: ___________ _________________________________________
9. Captain Clark: ___________ _________________________________________
10. Cameahwait: ___________ ____________________________________
11. Bird Girl: ___________ ____________________________________
Remembering Sacagawea -- Page 10 of 10 ReadAloudPlays.com ©2009 Mack Lewis. All Rights Reserved
Answer Key – Bird Girl Quiz
1. D; dice
2. A; talk
3. D; All of the above. The irritation about the word ocean is implied, but he’s primarily
irritated that Sacagawea is a burden which may cost him his shot at getting hired.
4. B; she’s never seen an ocean and therefore has no concept of what it could be.
5. B & D; the natives laugh at him because he’s a buffoon, and this is concerning to Lewis.
Clearly, they would not hire him at all if it weren’t for Sacagawea (which is quite ironic
given Scene Three).
6. Charbonneau was counting on the chief being unfamiliar with the odds of winning. The
chief has only a one in twelve chance of winning, while Charbonneau’s odds are eleven out
of twelve. This explain why he remains confident even when faced with year of slavery.
7. Throughout the play, Sacagawea is neglected and mistreated by her own people, but she has
a position of importance with Lewis & Clark. (Clark demonstrates that she’s important when
he defends her. Her decision has broader implications as well; by choosing to go with the
Corps, she is rejecting her cultural norm form women.)
II. This section requires that students locate evidence within the text to support their answer.
The answers shown here are logical, but a student could potentially use a different descriptor
and should be deemed “correct” if he or she can justify it with lines from the play.
8. Charbonneau: Foolish; “The Indians insult him behind his back.”
9. Captain Clark: Honorable; “There will be no beatings under my command. If you strike her
again, you shall be dismissed…”
10. Cameahwait: Indifferent; “He is more interested in the guns.”
11. Bird Girl: Insignificant; “I am not important to our people…”
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