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Narrative Input

Sacagawea’s Life Story

Sacagawea raced her brother Cameahwait (kah-mah-way-uht)

across the ​flat plain​ in front of the long row of​ teepees​.
“Faster, Arrow, Faster!” she cried to her horse.
“Move, Eagle!” Cameahwait shouted. “Don’t let her catch us!”
They rode for a mile. Sometimes Sacagawea darted ahead of her
brother. Then, his horse charged into the lead. They were both fast riders.
They had the swiftest horses because their father was the Chief of the
Shoshone tribe.

One day while they were riding, Cameahwait (kah-mah-way-uht) and

Sacagawea heard ​the crack of gunfire!​ Sacagawea’s horse reared up and
threw her to the ground. Cameahwait wanted to help her, but he had to
race into battle with the rest of the warriors to defend the Shoshones and
their horses from the attack by Minnetaree ​horse thieves​.

During the battle, Sacagawea was captured and became a ​prisoner

of the Minnetarees. After the battle, they traveled quickly for many days
across the flat plains. Looking back, she could no longer see the great
mountains where her people lived. Her heart was filled with sadness. She
was a slave.

Her new life was strange. Her own people had been wanderers, living
in teepees Now, year after year, she lived in a round​ mud house​ of the
Even though she was warm and there was plenty of​ buffalo​ and corn
to eat, Sacagawea was lonely as she sat by the fire sewing clothes for the
wives of the tribe warriors. She missed her family and her peoples’ way of

Then, one day, something happened that made Sacagawea sure that
she would never see her people again.
“Sacagawea,” said the Minnetaree warrior, “you have grown too old
to stay with us. I have sold you to this man.​ You will be his wife.”
Sacagawea said nothing. “His name is Charbonneau (shar bon oh),” the
warrior continued. “You will go with him.”
Charbonneau, a trapper from Canada, took her to live with him near
the Mandan tribe on the Missouri River.

One day, as Sacagawea was fishing, she saw three strange boats
approaching. From their boats, the men brought gifts for the tribe.
Carbonneau talked first to the strangers and then to the warriors.
“Who are these men?” asked the Mandan chief.
“This is Captains ​Meriwether Lewis a​nd​ William Clark​,” replied
Charbonneau. “They come in peace from a tribe of white men to the east.
They would like to stay here with the Mandan for the winter. When spring
comes, they will travel on.
The chief welcomed the men for the winter. Charbonneau decided
that come spring, he and Sacagawea would join the men known as “The
Corps of Discovery”​.

One snowy day in February, Sacagawea and Charbonneau had a son. His
name was Jean Baptiste, but Sacagawea called him ​Pompey (​pom pee) -
the Shoshone word for ​“first born”​.

That April, the Corps of Discovery sailed up the ​Missouri River​.

Sacagawea sat in the front boat with Pompey on her lap. With a woman on
the boat, other Native Americans would know that the Corps of Discovery
came in peace​ as women and children never went into battle.
Sacagawea was glad that she was heading the direction of her
people. It was slow, hard work going up the river, but the travelers did now
know that it would get much harder.

One day while the captains were ashore hunting, a great​ gust of wind
whipped the boat sideways. Charbonneau panicked because he did not
know how to swim. Sacagawea begged him to sit down, but as he stood up
the boat began filling with water. Charbonneau was of no help. But even
with Pompey on her back, Sacagawea was able to save many of the
supplies ​like​ medicine ​and maps that would be needed for the days ahead.


Along the route, there were many more dangers. At one point, they
narrowly escaped drowning in a narrow canyon as it filled with rain. They
faced ​grizzly bears ​and rattlesnakes, and it was so terribly cold! Many of
the group members became very sick, including Sacagawea. As she lay
near death, Lewis gave her a drink of water containing ​two crushed rings of
a rattlesnake rattle ​and she began getting well immediately. Another
member of the group was not so lucky, and died.


After many long days on the water, Sacagawea pointed to some

round rocks​ on the shore. This is where she had tried to hide from the
Minnetaree when she was a girl. “But, where was her people?” she
wondered. For many days she looked for her family. They saw old fire
circles and footprints but no Shoshones.

At last the day came! The Corps found the Shoshone camp.
Sacagawea looked from face to face but did not see her family. Sadly, she
followed the captains into the Shoshone chief’s teepee so that she could
“Cameahwait!” Sacagawea cried! “I have found you!” She threw her
arms around her long lost brother who was now the Shoshone chief.
Sacagawea and Cameahwait spoke of their family and Sacagawea’s long
trip with the white men. Cameahwait agreed to help the Corps and gave
them ​twelve horses.


Soon it was time for the Corps to continue on their journey.

Sacagawea had to leave her people once again.
“My heart is heavy, but I know you must go,” ​said Cameahwait.
Sacagawea then left her people to continue on the exploration. This time
she rode proudly on a fine Shoshone horse.


A Shoshone warrior led the group into the ​Rocky Mountains​. The
snows had already arrived and the cold and wind were fierce. Trees
blocked their way, so the group had to travel slowly. At times Sacagawea
did not think that they would make it over the mountain’s alive. Finally,
though, tired, cold, and hungry, the Corps crossed over the high passes
and began their ​descent​ into the Columbia River Valley.

For​ three long months ​the Corps with Sacagawea paddled down the
great western rivers. Many Native Americans were unsure about the white
men. But then they saw Sacagawea and Pompey, and let them pass.


One rainy November day, the long Columbia River got wider and
wider. Suddenly, in front of them, as far as the eye could see, stretched a
huge body of water.
“The ocean!” cried the travelers, “We have reached the ​Pacific
Sacagawea thought quietly about the words that her brother had
spoken months earlier.
“You will come back someday, Sacagawea. You will tell us about the
great water of which we have heard stories.” Sacagawea smiled brightly.


That winter, the Corps built a fort near the Pacific Ocean. Even
though the winter was cold, wet and boring, Sacagawea was happy. She
had seen sights and met friends that she would remember for the rest of
her life. And she had found her people.

When spring came, Sacagawea and the others traveled back up the
rivers and over the mountains. Sadly, she did not see Cameahwait again
that spring and we do not know if she ever did. She returned to the Mandan
Village with Charbonneau and Pompey.
Although we do not know what happened to her after her return to the
village, Sacagawea will always be remembered for the ​contributions t​hat
she made to the exploration of the west.