SALMON, Idaho - Come Aug. 17 - 200 years to the day - the lineal
descendants of Sacagawea from the Lemhi Shoshone tribe will gather in
Salmon, Idaho to honor their ancestor. Coordinated by Rozina George, the
great-great-great-great niece of Sacagawea, the commemoration will be part
of the town's larger event: the Sacagawea Days Festival, which runs Aug.
"We want to honor her and her alone for what she did," said George. "She
was a peacemaker, she was a humanitarian, a diplomat, and that is how we
would like her to be known..."
The Mandan-Hidatsa people captured Sacagawea, and the young woman resided
seven years with the tribe prior to marrying the French trapper Toussaint
Charboneau and joining the Lewis and Clark expedition. With her new baby,
Sacagawea traveled west with the Corps of Discovery, using her cultural
knowledge to ease the passage of the white men into what for them was the
On the 17th of August in 1805, when the party reached Lemhi Shoshone
country and encountered tribal people, Meriwether Lewis wrote: "Shortly
after Capt. Clark arrived with the Interpreter Charbono [sic], and the
Indian woman, who proved to be a sister of the Chif Cameahwait [sic]. The
meeting of those people was really affecting, particularly between
Sah-car-gar-we-ah and an Indian woman, who had been taken from the
Minnetares [Mandan-Hidatsa] and rejoined her nation."
In his journal entry of the same date, William Clark, in his notorious
spelling, elaborated on the reunion of Sacagawea and her people. "I had not
proceeded on one mile before I saw in the distance Several Indians on
horseback Comeing towards me, The Interpreter & Squar who were before me
Some distance danced for the joyful Sight, and She made signs to me that
they were her nation, as I approached nearer them discovered one of Capt
Lewis party With them dressed in their Dress; the met me with great Signs
of joy, as the Canoes were proceeding on nearly opposite me I turned those
people & Joined Capt Lewis who had Camped with 16 of those Snake Indians at
the fork 2 miles in advance."
Clark continued with a favorable report of the Lemhi Shoshone people.
"those Indians Sung all the way back to their Camp where the others had
provd. a cind of Shade of Willows Stuck up in a Circle, the Three Chiefs
with Capt. Lewis met me with great cordiality embraced and took a Seat on a
white robe, the Main Chief imedeatly tied to my hair Six Small pieces of
Shells, resembling perl which is highly Valued by those people and is
procured from nations resideing near the Sea Coast. We then Smoked in their
fassion without Shoes and without much cerimoney and form."
The 2005 public honoring planned for Sacagawea by George and other lineal
familial members will commence with a camp crier on horseback in full
regalia announcing the event. Then a wee yagae hoovee yah, a song
traditionally sung for warriors and captives who returned from battle to
their families, will ensue. As George explained, Sacagawea was not only a
captive. President Clinton recognized her as an honorary U.S. Army sergeant
The Lemhi Shoshone woman who walked the earth so long ago will also be
celebrated with a mah aty goi, a horse procession in which family members
will ride. Speakers and drums will be on hand as well, and there will be a
pipe ceremony and a giveaway to close the event:
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime event. We want people to be there because it is
a historic event," said George. "Sacagawea has been recognized by
presidents, prominent people and our nation. For the centennial in the
1900s, she was [a] voice for women. Now she is a voice for the Native
people. Because of her recognition, we are given a voice. Because of her
prominence, she is giving us a voice."