Sacagawea was born in 1788 in an area near the Rocky Mountains that is now part of Idaho. She was part of the Shoshone tribe where her father was the chief.
When Sacagawea was 12, her tribe was attacked by the Hidatsa tribe. Sacagawea was taken to North Dakota to live with the Hidatsa. A few years later, she was sold into slavery and forced to marry Toussaint Charbonneau, a French Canadian fur trapper.
In 1804, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark arrived in the area looking for guides. They were sent by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Purchase and the lands to the west.
Lewis and Clark hired Toussaint Charbonneau and asked him to bring along Sacagawea so she could interpret when they reached the Shoshone tribe.
Sacagawea was able to help out with much more than interpreting. She showed the men how to collect edible roots and other plants. She also helped to save important supplies and maps when her boat capsized in the river during a squall. The men were impressed with her quick action and named the river after her.
The journey across the western lands wasn't easy. Everyone was often hungry and cold. It was especially hard for Sacagawea who had her infant son to carry and feed.
Clark wrote in his journal that Sacagawea was one of the most valuable members of the group. She spoke both Shoshone and Hidatsa and was able to keep things peaceful when the group met up with the Native Americans.
Sacagawea was the only woman on the expedition. Unlike the men, Sacajawea did not receive any payment for her part in the journey, despite her important role in helping the group return safely.
Not much is known of Sacajawea's life after the expedition ended in 1806. Some think that she died a few years later and others say that she returned home to the Shoshone and lived for another seventy years.