Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance
Tribal historians of the Sacagawea Project Board of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation have written a groundbreaking book, “Our Story of Eagle Woman Sacagawea: They Got it Wrong.” Throughout 368 pages, the writers explore the family Hidatsa and Crow lineage of Sacagawea, the famed, female guide who in 1805 helped lead Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to the Pacific Northwest.
Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara researchers, and descendants, of Sacagawea connect the dots to outline a new picture of one of the most well-known women from American Indian history. Eagle Woman – who became known as Sacagawea, or Bird Woman -- became a central figure to the Corp of Discovery whose expedition spanned 1804-1806. She was living in an Hidatsa earth lodge along the Knife River in North Dakota when she met Lewis and Clark.
The Sacagawea Project relies on more than 200 years of history to dispel the conventional storyline that Sacagawea was a captive of the Hidatsa stolen from the Shoshone. Instead, tribal historians lay the groundwork to show that Eagle Woman actually was born to a Crow mother and Hidatsa father.
The following elders and tribal historians of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation wrote the book: Dr. Gerard Baker, Yellow Wolf; Calvin Grinnell, Running Elk; Bernard (Bernie) Fox, Yellow Dog; Carol Fredericks Newman, Sweet Grass; and Wanda Fox Sheppard, Plenty Sage. Project members will be signing books during the Little Shell Powwow Saturday, August 14 from 1- 4 p.m. in New Town, North Dakota Interested parties who like to arrange for a book signing or presentation should contact Mykal Drosdal of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Interpretive Center at 701-627-8611.
Project members provide context to Sacagawea’s life through a mix of family and tribal stories, interviews, documents, texts, diaries, journals, other research, scientific data and DNA testing. Ultimately, the author’s raise questions, but offer answers about Sacagawea, ranging from where she was born to where she died.
The writers also explore specific issues, such as Sacagawea’s lack of fluency in the Shoshone language. Toussaint Charbonneau, Sacagawea’s French-trapper husband, was known as a notoriously unreliable interpreter in any language. He sought a job with Lewis and Clark to serve as a translator during the expedition.
Readers will learn how Eagle Woman lived and traveled among both the Crow in Montana and the Hidatsa in North Dakota. Both tribes lived as one in North Dakota before the River Crow moved onward from the Missouri River valley to Montana’s Yellowstone country. The Crow later traded frequently with the Shoshone. The authors point to evidence that Sacagawea likely was born among the Hidatsa but also lived among her Crow mother’s family as a teenager.
The book is being published by The Paragon Agency, a publishing company that focuses on books that promise to shine a new light on history, said historian Douglas Westfall. Since 1990, The Paragon Agency has printed more than 135 American History books in which most rely upon unpublished, first-person accounts of significant events in America's history.
For decades, Hidatsa and Crow people have been retelling and sharing stories of Sacagawea. “Our Story of Eagle Woman,” promises to ignite fresh discussions and change the existing historical narrative of the Indigenous guide from the Knife River Villages. The book is available at www.SpecialBooks.com, ISBN: 978-1891030-80-2.