Sacagawea is one of the most famous Native American women in American history, and few played such a central role in the settlement of the West for the young nation. As a young woman who was married to a French trapper from Quebec, Sacagawea happened to be in the right place at the right time for the legendary Lewis and Clark expedition, which set off for the Pacific coast after President Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with France. The young Shoshone girl acted as a guide and interpreter for the expedition, helping it safely travel thousands of miles west from North Dakota to the Pacific over unfamiliar ground and amongst unfamiliar peoples. Put simply, the expedition could not have succeeded without her.
Sacagawea's role in the Lewis and Clark expedition made her a national figure, and she continued to be popularized in literature and even among groups advocating for women's rights. Sacagawea is still taught to every American in school and stands alongside Pocahontas as the most famous Native American women, even though few people knew much about her life aside from her role in the trek. For that reason, few truly know about her life, her tribe, or her death, the latter of which is still controversial. At the same time, given the history and conflicts between the United States and various Native American tribes during the 19th century, Sacagawea's role in helping the nation push westward at the expense of Native Americans has taken on a more mixed and controversial character.
American Legends: The Life of Sacagawea profiles the life and legacy of the famous Shoshone woman, including the known and unknown, while analyzing her lasting legacy.
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Well worth the read!
This is a very good brief biography of Sacagawea, including evalution and discussion of areas of debate. I really enjoyed the biblography at the end as well as the analysis of some of the history debates