Sacagawea: Facts You Didn't Know

By | November 18, 2019

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Sacajawea guiding the Lewis and Clark expedition from Mandan through the Rocky Mountains. Painting by Alfred Russell. Source: (Getty Images)

Sacagawea, the Native American woman who helped Lewis and Clark on their expedition through the Northwest, is a larger-than-life figure in American history. Unfortunately, much of the information about her life has been lost to time, but what we do know tells us that Sacagawea was an important and impressive woman. Let’s look at the extraordinary life of Sacagawea.

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Sacagawea was a member of the Shoshone tribe. Source: (

A Changing World

Sometime around the late 1780s, Sacagawea was born to a Shoshone chief and his wife. The Shoshone people lived in what is now Idaho, Utah, and Nevada, with Sacagawea's tribe living in Lehmi County, Idaho, along the banks of the Salmon River. In 1800, when she was just a young teenager, Sacagawea was captured by members of the Hidatsa Indian tribe, sworn enemies of the Shoshone. The Hidatsa people traded with European trappers and settlers in the region, which is how they got their hands on the guns they used to exert dominance over the Shoshone. It's unclear how long the Hidatsa people kept Sacagawea before they sold her, but it was long enough for her to become fluent in the Hidatsa language, a skill that would later serve her well.