Very few persons in the world are fortunate enough to be featured on a dollar coin. Sacagawea was one such explorer who has been accorded this honor by the US Mint in the year 2000.
Early days in the life story of Sacagawea:
Not much is known about this explorer who can be counted as one of the few women contributors in the history of the United States of America. She was born in the year 1788 in Lemhi County, Idaho. She was the daughter of a chieftain of a local tribe, the Shoshone tribe. She was known as a Shoshone interpreter and had served the Lewis and Clark expedition during the course of their explorations into the areas of the wilds of the American west.
It was very common among those days for rivalry to exist among different tribes during those days. When she was just 12 years of age, she was kidnapped by an enemy tribe, the Hidatsa Indians who sold her to French-Canadian trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau. Charbonneau made her one of his wives.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition:
She lived along with Charbonneau among the Hidatsa and Mandan Indian tribes in what can be referred to as present day North Dakota. An expedition was led by explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, referred to in history as the Corps of Discovery with the aim of the expedition being to explore new lands and find a route to the Pacific Ocean.
Conversing in the local language was an issue for such expeditions; so they used to hire interpreters. Charbonneau was hired as one such interpreter and Sacagawea used to accompany him, despite being pregnant with her first child. The expedition believed that she being an expert in Shoshone language would be an added advantage.
She was very useful to the expedition which she proved many a time. She had an inborn skill in finding edible plants. With her child in tow, she was often projected as the face of the expedition which naturally aroused less suspicion as a group travelling with a woman and a newly born child.
This expedition proved to be helpful to her in more ways than one. She made a fantastic discovery during one of her trips. During one such encounter with a group of Shoshone Indians she chanced upon the fact that the leader of the group was her long lost brother Cameahwait. This helped the expedition to buy horses from the tribes which enabled them to cross the wild Rocky Mountains.
Her life: Post Expedition:
The expedition reached the Pacific coast in November 1805 and she was totally accepted as being part of the expedition and was allows to cast her vote. This was something unheard of during that period of male domination that a woman had been allowed to cast her vote. They built the Fort Clatsop and remained there until the month of March 1806.
On achieving their aim the expedition embarked on the return trip where they reached one of the Mandan villages. During this trip her son endeared himself to William Clark who also agreed to support his education. Details of her life post this expedition is not available and she was presumed to live a secluded life along with her family. She reportedly gave birth to a daughter named Lisette in 1812. She did not survive for long after the birth of her daughter and she expired sometime in 1812 at Fort Manuel which is in what is present day South Dakota.
She has been honored with statues, name places and has been featured in a US dollar coin which is a rare privilege.