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Sacagawea Day – December 20, 2022

Sacagawea day is celebrated on December 20 each year to honor Sacagawea (also spelled ‘Sakakawea’ or ‘Sacajawea’). She was the daughter of a Shoshone chief and part of the Lemhi band of the Shoshone tribe. Sacagawea is celebrated for the courage she exhibited when at 16, she acted as an interpreter for an expedition that was exploring the Louisiana Territory. In the early twentieth century, The National American Woman Suffrage Association adopted Sacagawea as a symbol of women’s worth and independence, erecting several statues and plaques in her memory, and doing much to recount her accomplishments.

History of Sacagawea Day

Sacagawea was born in May 1788 in the Lemhi Valley, near the Salmon River and the Rocky Mountains, in present-day Lemhi County, Idaho. She was kidnapped at the age of 12 by enemies of the Shoshones, the ‘Hidatsa’ tribe, and was taken to a Hidatsa-Mandan settlement in North Dakota. Sacagawea then became the property of French Canadian fur trader, Toussaint Charbonneau, who took her as one of his wives in 1804. The origin of the name ‘Sacagawea’ has been disputed over time as some believe it is of Hidatsa origin meaning ‘bird woman’, while others believe it is of Shoshone origin, meaning ‘boat pusher’

The Lewis and Clark expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark was sanctioned by President Thomas Jefferson after purchasing 828,000 square miles of almost completely unexplored territory from France. They met with Charbonneau and Sacagawea who provided a language link between English, French, Hidatsa, and Shoshone which would come in handy. They journeyed with the Corps of Discovery on the northern plains, across the Rocky Mountains, to the Pacific Ocean, and back again. Sacagawea was with her two-month-old son, Jean Baptiste, and was just 16 when they left and was the only woman on the expedition.

Her numerous contributions to the expedition like her knowledge of some terrain, identifying edible plants, and her calming presence when the group was faced with strangers amongst a host of others brought about her being celebrated today. She died of Putrid fever in December 1812 at Fort Manuel in what is now Kennel, South Dakota at the age of 24. Although some say she lived much longer

Sacagawea Day timeline

1788
The Chief’s Daughter is Born

Sacagawea is born to a Shoshone Chief in present-day Lemhi County, Idaho

1800
The Abduction bducted

Sacagawea is abducted at the age of 12 by raiding Hidatsa tribesmen

1804
The Forced Marriage

Sacagawea is forced into marriage with French Canadian fur trader, Toussaint Charbonneau.

1804
The Lewis and Clark Exploration

Months after President Thomas Jefferson sanctions it, the exploration begins

1805
Sacagawea Joins The Exploration

Sacagawea and Charbonneau join the exploration due to their language skills

1806
The Exploration Comes To An End

Sacagawea and Charbonneau arrive back at their Hidatsa settlement after the exploration ends

Sacagawea Day FAQs

When was Sacagawea born?

She was born in May 1788.

What did Sacagawea do in February?

She gave birth to her son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau in February 1805

Who was Sacagawea's siblings?

Cameahwait was Sacagawea’s brother and a Shoshone chief. He was the leader of the first group of people to be encountered by Europeans in modern-day Idaho. On August 13, 1805, Cameahwait encountered Meriwether Lewis and three other members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

How to Observe Sacagawea Day

  1. Check a map of the expedition

    Take yourself back in time by viewing a map detailing the Corps of Discovery Expedition. As it was such an interesting expedition, it would be worth your while.

  2. Watch a documentary on the Corps disvovery

    Watch a documentary about Sacagawea and the Corps discovery. It helps you appreciate not just one of the events that shaped America’s history, but the people involved as well.

  3. Explore Sacagawea peaks in Montana and Idaho

    Explore Sacajawea Peaks on the eastern horizon above Salmon, Idaho. The peaks overlook the Lemhi Valley, the birthplace of Sacagawea

5 Important Native American Tribes

  1. Navajo

    This tribe consists of about 399,000 people and can be found in parts of Northeastern Arizona, Northwestern New Mexico, and a smaller portion covering Southeastern Utah.

  2. Cherokee

    The population of the Cherokee tribe is about 400,000 worldwide and they are mainly found in Oklahoma.

  3. Sioux

    This great nation has its tribesmen in mainly South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

  4. Chippewa

    The tribesmen of this nation are mostly located in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Ontario, Canada.

  5. Choctaw

    The Chocktaw is mainly found in Oklahoma.

Why Sacagawea Day is Important

  1. It appreciates American history

    Celebrating Sacagawea day helps to appreciate American history. The events that led up to celebrating Sacagawea greatly shaped American history.

  2. It celebrates women

    Women aren’t celebrated as much as men in history. Sacagawea helps people see one of the instances where the influence of a woman greatly shaped American history.

  3. It helps appreciate Native Americans better

    Knowing that Native Americans helped shape history in America serves a good purpose. It makes us appreciate them even more than we already do.

Sacagawea Day dates

YearDateDay
2022December 20Tuesday
2023December 20Wednesday
2024December 20Friday
2025December 20Saturday
2026December 20Sunday

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