Sacagawea was an important historical figure due to her role and significant work during the Lewis and Clark expedition. Sacagawea was the only women in a crew of 32 men who took part in the Lewis and Clark expedition. She played an important role in the expedition, as a Shoshone interpreter. Nevertheless, “she was not included in the payroll as well as his husband. After the completion of the expedition, his husband was paid $533.33 for his interpretation services and was also awarded with 320 acres of land in the state of Missouri.” On the other hand, Sacagawea, her wife was not paid anything for their services. In spite of all, Sacagawea was able to perform many roles as the expedition went on and she proved to be an important resource or the Corps of exploration and discovery.
She was also an important historical personality because of their ability to bring about peace within the society. Her presence was a major contribution useful in defusing the tensions that emerged between the foreign explorers and the Native Americans. Initially, the Native Americans were not comfortable with approaching the westerns, but after watching Sacagawea with his son tied to her back they confirmed the peaceful and good intentions of the explorers. For many people in the U.S history, “Sacagawea acted as a sign of the expedition’s peaceful goal and it was critical in building a connection to improve the Indian relations.” In 1805, Clark observed that Sacagawea, the interpreter was able to obtain the reconciliation for all Indians due to her presence that showed the friendly intentions that depicted the aim for peace.
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Most importantly, Sacagawea played a crucial role in the identification of the landmarks. Numerous historians have provided various evaluations as to her responsibilities as a guide of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Her work to the Corps of research and discovery was based on her ability to identify landmarks she had known from her childhood and advising on the potential and suitable routes. Before the arrival at the Shoshone region, Lewis had created three journal entries noting the familiar landmarks remembered by Sacagawea from her childhood. However, the regions away from Shoshone lands were unfamiliar to her. In 1805, one of Lewis’s journal entry stated that the Indian women knows the nation and gives us the surety of the river that her relations live. It shows that Lewis recognized the role of Sacagawea in the identification of the landmarks. After Sacagawea was able to recognize the Beaverhead rock, “she was able to inspire the other members of the team to look for the Shoshones and get the encouragement to continue with the expedition.” Clark wrote a journal entry in 1806 stating that the Indian women was helpful and provided great service by recommending better routes for the expedition.
Sacagawea is also mainly recognized for her interpreting role. The interpreting process was difficult and tiresome. For example, the communication of Clark with the Chief Cameahwait was regularly translated from English to French to Hidatsa and then to Shoshone. The process was also reversed when the chief gave his response. It shows the dedication of Sacagawea to her work and contribution to the expedition. The multistage communication process was popular when multiple tribes in the crew spoke in different languages. However, the oral interpretation was completed by the use of sign language. For example, the meeting with the Shoshone was critical to the overall success of the expedition and thus, the members needed to gather numerous resources such as gathering horses to ferry supplies. The significance of the meeting was analyzed by Lewis in his journal entry in 1805 where he says that the meeting was important to all the people as it would determine the next day progress. Without the horses obtained from Shoshone, they would have faced major difficulties in ferrying the supplies necessary for the expedition.
Historically, Sacagawea was seen to be very resourceful and enduring. For days in the expedition, Sacagawea had proved the doubters that she was very resourceful. The numerous journal entries show that she occasionally introduced the indigenous fruits and roots to the expedition members. Both Clark and Lewis recognizes resourceful in their journal entries noting that she was resolved to make the expedition a success. One of the days, the expedition was confronted by a windstorm that led to the capsizing of a bot which Charbonneau was using. The boat was ferrying critical and sensitive information obtained in journals and medicine and tools. Surprisingly, “Charbonneau was not a swimmer and thus, Sacagawea was bold to reach for the documents.” Her calm behavior helped to save all the tools and documents that were essential to the expedition. As the expedition team was coming close to the Pacific coast, the crew met the Chinook who normally exchanged gifts. During the meeting with the explorers, the locals gave much bear fur coats to the team. Lewis and Clark used various items to trade for the coats, but they were denied. However, they accepted Sacagawea’s beaded belt. It shows that she was ready and willing to assist when she was in a position to assist the members of the expedition.
Most importantly, Sacagawea played a crucial role in promoting the civil rights and addressing the women’s suffrage. In reaching the Pacific, the expedition members had to settle to counter the consequences of the winter. “All the lost able to vote in a group of men. It showed her courage and belief that women had the same rights as their male counterparts.” Considering the historical times, it was extraordinary that she was given the opportunity to vote as an African American slave. During the periods, most African Americans were subject to oppression and slavery and they were not considered to be U.S citizens. Also, the women were never allowed to vote during elections. Despite of her opportunity, abolition and women’s suffrage was delayed for about six decades. In the historical setting, Sacagawea is seen as the symbol of women’s rights in the society.
Sacagawea fictionalizes an image of genuine Indian women that was critical in advocating for the liberation of all women. She was a compelling model of the bravery of the women and their intelligence. For example, she was able to swim saving important documents compared to his husband who was unable to save the documents. It shows her bravery and her ability to assert her influence and service among the male members of the expedition. Throughout the expedition, her knowledge of the landscape proved essential. The success of the expedition was dependent on her interpretation skills and ability to locate the key landmarks. Most importantly, she was able to unity the explorers as well as provide assurance on the potential success of the expedition. It is because most of the members were skeptical about the whole journey. She was also proud of rewriting history by developing a journal explaining all the events that had occurred during the expedition. Many historians have tried to explain the story of Sacagawea after the expedition, but there are exists different opinions about her death and other life aspects. Therefore, Sacagawea as an important historical figure that was used to advocate for women rights due to her legacy of accomplishments.
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