“In my seventh winter, when my head only reached my Appe’s rib, a White Man came into camp. Bare trees scratched sky. Cold was endless. He moved through trees like strikes of sunlight. My Bia said he came with bad intentions, like a Water Baby’s cry.”Sacajewea, The Lost Journals of Sacajewea
The Lost Journals of Sacajewea by Debra Magpie Earling tells a more accurate story of Sacajewea that we’ve heard from a textbook. It cannot be said enough how much history has been whitewashed. The book is as historically accurate as possible, except for the true emotions and thoughts of Sacajewea.
She was born and raised in the Lemhi Shoshone tribe in Idaho. She lived in Idaho until at the age of approximately 12, she was kidnapped by the Hidatsa tribe.
Before the kidnapping, she believes that she is going to have a good life with her husband-to-be, a handsome Lemhi Shoshone warrior. She hopes that he will find her after the abduction but he does not. Nothing is the same for Sacajewea but she tries to survive however she can. Can you imagine how hard that had to be?
The Hidatsa kept Sacajewea at a village in North Dakota until she was sold into a nonconsensual marriage to Toussaint Charbonneau when she was about 13 years old. When I learned about Sacajewea in school, I didn’t think about her marriage being nonconsensual or that she was only 13. History teachers like to forget those details.
It is nicer to think that Charbonneau saved her but the truth is that he was inept, lazy and cruel. He didn’t save her in any way. In reality, she saved him. We only know about him because Sacajewea made her mark on the journey and right into history.
Lewis and Clark arrived at the Mandan village near the future site of Fort Mandan in 1804. They hired Charbonneau to be an interpreter and a guide. Sacajewea was also an interpreter and a guide at times. Sacajewea gave birth to her son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, in February 1805. So she was a new teenaged mother on a long journey with her baby, ridiculous husband plus the rest of the Corp of Discovery. Sacajewea deserves all of the props.
The book is a beautiful realistic re-telling of Sacajewea’s story. I hope that everyone reads it and treasures it as much as I do.
If you like historical fiction that is not whitewashed, then please read this book. If you like to sweep the truth of historical facts under the rug, then we’re not the same.