Sakakawea has become a recognized name as part of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Although her name is famous, few facts remain to document her life and contributions to the voyage. When Lewis and Clark met Sakakawea in 1804 she was about sixteen years old and married to the fur trader Toussaint Charbonneau. Sakakawea became a valuable member of the Corps of Discovery when Lewis and Clark hired Charbonneau as an interpreter to accompany them on their journey west.
On April 7, 1805, carrying her infant son on her back, Sakakawea set out with the Lewis and Clark expedition, providing translation and contacts with the Shoshone living west of the Mandan and Hidatsa. Lewis acknowledged her importance in a journal entry, noting that she was "our only dependence for friendly negocition with the Snake Indians."Lewis was referring to the Shoshone, who had horses they hoped to acquire for the mountain portage. Her recognition of landmarks in southwestern Montana encouraged the Corps as they made their way through uncharted territory, and Clark realized that Sakakawea and her baby offered another important service. In an entry for October 14, 1805, he wrote,"The wife of Shabono [Charbonneau] our interpreter we find reconsiles all the Indians as to our friendly intentions. A woman with a party of men is a token
Sakakawea has been the subject of much debate, from the spelling of her name to the time and place of her death. According to Charbonneau, her Hidatsa name meant "Bird Woman." north Dakota adopted the Anglicized spelling for easier pronunciation and call her "Sakakawea." Other common spellings are Sacajawea and Sacagawea. Most scholars, relying on William Clark's writing and other evidence, believe Sakakawea died at Fort Manuel on the Missouri River, just south of the border between North and South Dakota, in December 1812.
The Sakakawea Statue
Rewarded interest in the Corps of Discovery came with the celebrations of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 and the Lewis and Clark centennial in 1905. The North Dakota Federation of Women's Clubs, working with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, initiated a fund-raising campaign in 1906 to erect a statue of Sakakawea near the state capitol. Leonard Crunelle, a noted Chicago artist, was chosen as the sculptor. His completed statue of Sakakawea was unveiled at sunset on October 13, 1910. To commemorate the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition, a replica of the Sakakawea statue will represent the state of North Dakota in Statuary Hall, Washington, D.C.
Top Left Drawing
Pictograph of the three Hidatsa villages at the mouth of the Knife River where Toussaint Charbonneau and his
Upper Right Photo
Leonard Crunelle, the sculptor of the Sakakawea statue, visited the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, home of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara. Crunelle posed for a photograph at the John Nagle home about 1906.
Lower Right Photo
Sakakawea's son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, was born February 11, 105. William Clark affectionately nicknamed the baby "Pomp" and called the great natural landmark on the Yellowstone River "Pompey's Pillar." in honor of this youngest member of the Corps of Discovery.
Sakakawea's descendant, Mink, also known as Hannah Levings, a Hidatsa woman, was chosen as the model for Crunelle's statue. In this photograph Mink is posing for the artist, carrying a baby much like the sculpture illustrates.
Location. 46° 49.189′ N, 100° 46.886′ W. Marker is in Bismarck, North Dakota, in Burleigh County. Marker is on East Boulvard Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is on the Capitol grounds next to the North Dakota Heritage Center. Marker is in this post office area: Bismarck ND 58505, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Honorable John Burke (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Combat Wounded Veterans (about 600 feet away); All Veterans Memorial (about 600 feet away); Boxcar used in the 1st World War (about 600 feet away); The Pioneer Family (approx. 0.2 miles away); First News of Custer’s Death (approx. one mile away); Commanding Officer’s Quarters (approx. 4.9 miles away); Mandan Scenic Overlook (approx. 6.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bismarck.
Categories. • Exploration • Native Americans •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 27, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 849 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on June 27, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.