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Kidnapping of Sacagawea: Her Fight for Survival and Rescue by Captain Lewis and Captain Clerk

Sacagawea Interprets for Lewis and Clark (1804)

In November 1804, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the Corps of Discovery arrived at the HidatsaMandan villages near present day Bismarck, North Dakota. There they met and hired Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trader and Sacagawea (“Canoe Launcher”), one of his two Shoshone “wives.” Lewis and Clark believed Sacagawea could be important in trading for horses when the Corps reached the Bitterroot mountains and the Shoshones. While Sacagawea did not speak English, she spoke Shoshone and Hidatsa. Charbonneau spoke Hidatsa and French. It was hoped that when the expedition met the Shoshones, Sacagawea would talk with them, then translate to Hidatsa for Charbonneau, who would translate into French. The Corps’ Francois Labiche spoke French and English, and would make the final translation so that Lewis and Clark could understand.

SATURDAY, August 17. Captain Lewis rose very early and despatched Drewyer and the Indian down the river in quest of the boats. Shields was sent out at the same time to hunt, while M’Neal prepared a breakfast out of the remainder of the meat. Drewyer had been gone about two hours, and the Indians were all anxiously waiting for some news, when an Indian who had straggled a short distance down the river returned with a report that he had seen the white men, who were only a short distance below, and were coming on. The Indians were all transported with joy, and the chief in the warmth of his satisfaction renewed his embrace to Captain Lewis, who was quite as much delighted as the Indians themselves. The report proved most agreeably true. On setting out at seven o’clock, Captain Clark, with Charbonneau and his wife, walked on shore; but they had not gone more than a mile before Captain Clark saw Sacagawea, who was with her husband one hundred yards ahead, begin to dance and show every mark of the most extravagant joy, turning round him and pointing to several Indians, whom he now saw advancing on horseback, sucking her fingers at the same time to indicate that they were of her native tribe. As they advanced Captain Clark discovered among them Drewyer dressed like an Indian, from whom he learnt the situation of the party. While the boats were performing the circuit he went towards the forks with the Indians, who, as they went along, sang aloud with the greatest appearance of delight. We soon drew near to the camp, and just as we approached it a woman made her way through the crowd towards Sacagawea, and recognising each other, they embraced with the most tender affection. The meeting of these two young women had in it something peculiarly touching, not only in the ardent manner in which their feelings were expressed, but from the real interest of their situation. They had been companions in childhood; in the war with the Minnetarees they had both been taken prisoners in the same battle, they had shared and softened the rigours of their captivity, till one of them had escaped from the Minnetarees, with scarce a hope of ever seeing her friend relieved from the hands of her enemies. While Sacagawea was renewing among the women the friendships of former days, Captain Clark went on, and was received by Captain Lewis and the chief, who, after the first embraces and salutations were over, conducted him to a sort of circular tent or shade of willows. Here he was seated on a white robe, and the chief immediately tied in his hair six small shells resembling pearls, an ornament highly valued by these people, who procured them in the course of trade from the seacoast. The moccasins of the whole party were then taken off, and after much ceremony the smoking began. After this the conference was to be opened, and glad of an opportunity of being able to converse more intelligibly, Sacagawea was sent for; she came into the tent, sat down, and was beginning to interpret, when in the person of Cameahwait she recognised her brother; she instantly jumped up and ran and embraced him, throwing over him her blanket and weeping profusely; the chief was himself moved, though not in the same degree. After some conversation between them she resumed her seat, and attempted to interpret for us, but her new situation seemed to overpower her, and she was frequently interrupted by her tears. After the council was finished, the unfortunate woman learnt that all her family were dead except two brothers, one of whom was absent, and a son of her eldest sister, a small boy, who was immediately adopted by her. The canoes arriving soon after, we formed a camp in a meadow on the left side, a little below the forks, took out our baggage, and by means of our sails and willow poles formed a canopy for our Indian visitors. About four o’clock the chiefs and warriors were collected, and after the customary ceremony of taking off the moccasins and smoking a pipe, we explained to them in a long harangue the purposes of our visit, making themselves one conspicuous object of the good wishes of our government, on whose strength as well as its friendly disposition we expatiated. We told them of their dependence on the will of our government for all future supplies of whatever was necessary either for their comfort or defence; that as we were sent to discover the best route by which merchandise could be conveyed to them, and no trade would be begun before our return, it was mutually advantageous that we should proceed with as little delay as possible; that we were under the necessity of requesting them to furnish us with horses to transport our baggage across the mountains, and a guide to show us the route, but that they should be amply remunerated for their horses, as well as for every other service they should render us. In the meantime our first wish was, that they should immediately collect as many horses as were necessary to transport our baggage to their village, where, at our leisure, we would trade with them for as many horses as they could spare.

The Quest for Indian Unity: Tecumseh and his Role in History

trade with them for as many horses as they could spare. The speech made a favourable impression; the chief in reply thanked us for our expressions of friendship towards himself and his nation, and declared their willingness to render us every service. He lamented that it would be so long before they should be supplied with firearms, but that till then they could subsist as they had heretofore done. He concluded by saying that there were not horses here sufficient to transport our goods, but that he would return to the village tomorrow, and bring all his own horses, and encourage his people to come over with theirs. The conference being ended to our satisfaction, we now inquired of Cameahwait what chiefs were among the party, and he pointed out two of them. We then distributed our presents: to Cameahwait we gave a medal of the small size, with the likeness of President Jefferson, and on the reverse a figure of hands clasped with a pipe and tomahawk; to this was added a uniform coat, a shirt, a pair of scarlet leggings, a carrot of tobacco, and some small articles. Each of the other chiefs received a small medal struck during the presidency of General Washington, a shirt, handkerchief, leggings, a knife, and some tobacco. Medals of the same sort were also presented to two young warriors, who though not chiefs were promising youths and very much respected in the tribe. These honorary gifts were followed by presents of paint, moccasins, awls, knives, beads, and looking-glasses. We also gave them all a plentiful meal of Indian corn, of which the hull is taken off by being boiled in lye; and as this was the first they had ever tasted, they were very much pleased with it. They had indeed abundant sources of surprise in all they saw: the appearance of the men, their arms, their clothing, the canoes, the strange looks of the negro, and the sagacity of our dog, all in turn shared their admiration, which was raised to astonishment by a shot from the airgun; this operation was instantly considered as a great medicine, by which they as well as the other Indians mean something emanating directly from the Great Spirit, or produced by his invisible and incomprehensible agency. The display of all these riches had been intermixed with inquiries into the geographical situation of their country, for we had learnt by experience that to keep the savages in good temper their attention should not be wearied with too much business, but that the serious affairs should be enlivened by a mixture of what is new and entertaining. Our hunters brought in very seasonably four deer and an antelope, the last of which we gave to the Indians, who in a very short time devoured it. After the council was over, we consulted as to our future operations. The game does not promise to last here for a number of days, and this circumstance combined with many others to induce our going on as soon as possible. Our Indian information as to the state of the Columbia is of a very alarming kind, and our first object is of course to ascertain the practicability of descending it, of which the Indians discourage our expectations. It was therefore agreed that Captain Clark should set off in the morning with eleven men, furnished, besides their arms, with tools for making canoes; that he should take Charbonneau and his wife to the camp of the Shoshonees, where he was to leave them, in order to hasten the collection of horses; that he was then to lead his men down to the Columbia, and if he found it navigable, and the timber in sufficient quantity, begin to build canoes. As soon as he had decided as to the propriety of proceeding down the Columbia or across the mountains, he was to send back one of the men with information of it to Captain Lewis, who by that time would have brought up the whole party and the rest of the baggage as far as the Shoshonee village. Preparations were accordingly made this evening for such an arrangement. The sun is excessively hot in the day time, but the nights very cold, and rendered still more unpleasant from the want of any fuel except willow brush. The appearances, too, of game for many days’ subsistence are not very favourable.

1. The Shoshone were known to have horses that the Corps of Discovery would need to cross the western mountains. What do you think the expedition would have done had they not found a Shoshone band or been able to trade for horses?

2. What was the relationship between Sacagawea and the Shoshone band encountered by the Corps? Do you think this relationship aided in the trading process and the success of the expedition? Why or why not?

Kidnapping of Sacagawea: Her Fight for Survival and Rescue by Captain Lewis and Captain Clerk

First event

The first event described here talks about the kidnapping of the 12 year old girl Sacagawaea. This incident dates back to the year 1800. The war party was being named as the Hidatsa Indians. They took her off to the Hidatsa-Mandan villages in the North Dakota, currently named as Bismarck. After this kidnapping, the little girl was sold to the Toussaint Charbonneau as a slave. This began her miseries. The person was the French-Canadian fur tradesman. This is why in the year 1804 the Corps of Discovery had arrived at the Hidatsa-Mandan villages.  The 12 year girl gave birth to a baby boy in the year 1805. The name given to that boy was Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau. This entire story is built on the kidnapping of the girl, her fight with life to survive and come back. Captain Lewis and Captain Clerk can be mentioned two of the most important characters in this event. Captain Lewis had become the pioneer person in discovering the fleets of the kidnappers. The rescue teams had found that the girl Sacagawea had preferred to speak Hidatsa and Shoshone when she did not speak in English.

Second event

The condition of the Indians in the American continent began to be fierce because the white skilled people began to gain the positions properly. It was a huge ask to unite all the Indians because the Indians had been on the target of the white Americans for a long time now. This incident describes about the conditions that had arisen in that time. The author Tecumseh had found out that all the things that were being discovered in this time, all were against the Indians. The pan Indians had to build up an alliance so that they could survive in this scenario. It has been believed that Tecumseh is one of the best Indians who had taken his place in the history. The followers of Tecumseh had showed him respect that was very much surprising for everyone. He had managed to win the big victories with smaller groups of people.

Third event

The third event concerns about the black hawk. The other name of the Black Hawk is Ma-kai-tai-me-she-kia-kiak. He was considered to be the member of the warrior classes. He was born in the year 1767. He took part in the war that took place in the year 1812. Black Hawk got very much wounded when he was taking part in his first battle with the enemies when he was just 15 years old. The tribal affairs took a huge role in shaping up these battles. In the war of 1812, the Black Hawk took the side of the British. He was a trusted soldier of the Tecumseh who was the warrior from the Shawnee tribal group. The followers of Black Hawk were known as the British Band. Black Hawk became to be the trusted leader of the war parties in many regions indeed.

The Quest for Indian Unity: Tecumseh and his Role in History

The relationship between the Native Americans and the United States has gone through several stages in the previous years. Many policies and treaties were signed and implied to improve the relationships between the two sections. The different aspects from political, regional and historical events had been taken a huge topsy-turvy turn in the previous times. This will determine the relationship between the Native Americans and the people from the United States.

There was observed a very simple and improving relationship between these two sections of the people. Both the parties wanted to improve the relationship between them as well. It had been noted that one of the most significant problems in the context is the encroachment of the white skinned British people over the Native American or Indian people. The former president of USA George Washington had addressed the situation by ordering to capture or purchase the lands owned by the Indians then. The Indian tribes had a great military power. This is why they had to make treaties with the French and the British. After all these treaties, the Indians posed a great danger to the great nation of USA. The Indian people and the white skinned American carried on their relationship by trade. The new government formed in the USA had decided to treat the Indians with the utmost respect indeed. Many Indians had begun to trade with the people of the household goods and other things.  There were many cultural differences between the two sections of people. They decided to improve the education of the native Indian people to a great extent. The new government always wanted to set a good relationship with the Native Indians indeed. All these policies and treaties had affected the lives of the Native Indian people indeed.

It is a notable fact that after the war of 1812, the entire country had suffered very badly indeed. The suffering had varied from the economical effects to all the other things. The trading between the two sections of people had suffered a lot as well. As the trades ceased to flourish, the impacts were very strong on the financial grounds indeed. The number of immigrants always increased and the pressure began to increase in the lands of the Indian people, or the pan-Indian people. The situations had turned in a way that most Indians had to do the works of selling the household goods like the cooking utensils, things important for the improvement of technology and many other things like the hunter rifles. Other Indians had stayed back and they began to prosper with the fur trade indeed. Other Indians had chosen to be the hunters as well. The Indians did not want to move from the places in USA. However, it was very much necessary to push themselves.

References

Fisher, Linford D. The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Foreman, Amanda. "The British View the War of 1812 Quite Differently Than Americans Do." Smithsonian Magazine(2014): 17-21.

Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A forgotten conflict. University of Illinois Press, 2012.

Hyde, Anne Farrar. Empires, Nations and Families: A New History of the North American West, 1800-1860. Ecco Press, 2012.

Laxer, James. Tecumseh & Brock: The War of 1812. House of Anansi, 2012.

Norwich, Grace. I Am# 1: Sacagawea. Scholastic Inc., 2012.

Sanford, William R., and Carl R. Green. Sacagawea: Courageous American Indian Guide. Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2012.

Tindall, George Brown, and David E. Shi. America: A narrative history. WW Norton & Company, 2016

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