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Sacagawea Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Alyson Breeding

Alyson is an elementary special education teacher and has a master's degree in special education.

Have you ever hiked in the woods? What if you had to help a whole group of men navigate the wilderness! That was the job of Sacagawea, a Native American woman who helped the famous Lewis and Clark with their expeditions across the Wild West.

Who was Sacagawea?

Could you imagine walking hundreds of miles to discover unknown wilderness? Now try to imagine doing it with a newborn baby? Crazy right! Not for Sacagawea!

Sacagawea was a Native American woman that lived from 1788-1812. Sacagawea descended from the Lemhi band of the Shoshone Native American Tribe, located in an area now known as Idaho. Sacagawea was kidnapped from her tribe at a young age and eventually taken as a wife by a Canadian trapper at the age of 13. Sacagawea was able to speak Native American languages as well as English, which made her an excellent translator, or person who translates from one language to another.

Sacagawea with Lewis and Clark
Sacagawea with Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark Expedition

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were two explorers that were asked by American president, Thomas Jefferson, to travel to the West Coast of the United States and document their travels and research along the way. In 1804, Lewis and Clark built a camp along the Missouri River where they were to stay for the winter. During their stay, they were looking to hire a guide, someone to help them maneuver their way to the West Coast and communicate with the various Native American tribes along the way.

Lewis and Clark hired Sacagawea's husband because they knew that Sacagawea could translate for them and was very familiar with the rugged land of the area. Sacagawea was pregnant when she and her husband were hired. She actually gave birth to a son a couple of months before the journey and cared for him during the entire expedition.

Sacagawea the Helper

Sacagawea was a great help on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. There were many times that the men were very low on food supplies. Sacagawea was skilled at finding edible plants, like roots and berries, that would give the men enough energy to keep moving.

There was one instance in which the boat that Sacagawea was traveling on capsized into the river. Sacagawea was able to save the books, papers and medicines, including the journals of Lewis and Clark. These journals went on to be some of the most important knowledge collected about the Wild West, a previously unstudied land. Can you imagine if they had been lost?

Sacagawea Statue
Sacagawea Statue

Sacagawea also kept the peace during the expedition. When the group came upon Native American tribes along the way, it was Sacagawea that greeted the tribes and promised a peaceful encounter. Without Sacagawea, it is likely that the Native Americans would not have greeted the expedition group kindly during their travels.

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