A Project of the Idaho GenWeb

Shoshoni Indian Chiefs and Leaders


Sacagawea (also Sakakawea, Sacajawea; (c. 1788 December 20, 1812) was a Shoshone woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, in their exploration of the Western United States. She traveled thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean between 1804 and 1806. She was nicknamed Janey by Clark.

Sacagawea was born into an Agaidika (Salmon Eater) tribe of Lemhi Shoshone between Kenney Creek and Agency Creek about twenty minutes away from present-day Salmon in Lemhi County, Idaho. In 1800, when she was about twelve, she and several other girls were kidnapped by a group of Hidatsa (also known as Minnetarees) in a battle that resulted in the death of four Shoshone men, four women and several boys. She was then taken to a Hidatsa village near present-day Washburn, North Dakota.

At about thirteen years of age, Sacagawea was taken as a wife by Toussaint Charbonneau, a Quebecer trapper living in the village. He had also taken another young Shoshone named Otter Woman as a wife. Charbonneau reportedly either to have purchased both wives from the Hidatsa, or won Sacagawea while gambling (the gambling is the more reliable of reports).

Sacagawea was pregnant with her first child when the Corps of Discovery arrived near the Hidatsa villages to spend the winter of 1805-1806. Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark built Fort Mandan and interviewed several trappers who might be able to translate or guide the expedition further up the Missouri River in the springtime. They agreed to hire Charbonneau as an interpreter when they discovered his wife spoke the Shoshone language, as they knew they would need the help of the Shoshone tribes at the headwaters of the Missouri.

Lewis recorded in his journal on November 4, 1804:

"a French man by Name Chabonah, who speaks the Big Belly language visit us, he wished to hire and informed us his 2 squars were snake Indians, we engage him to go on with us and take one his wives to interpret the Snake language"

By August 1805 the corps had located a Shoshone tribe and was attempting to trade for horses to cross the Rocky Mountains. Sacagawea was brought in to translate, and it was discovered the tribe's chief was her brother, Cameahwait.

After the expedition, Charbonneau and Sacagawea spent three years among the Hidatsa before accepting William Clark's invitation to settle in St. Louis, Missouri in 1809. They entrusted Jean-Baptiste's education to Clark, who enrolled the young man in the Saint Louis Academy boarding school.

Some Native American oral traditions relate that rather than dying in 1812, Sacagawea left her husband Charbonneau, crossed the Great Plains and married into a Comanche tribe. She was said to have returned to the Shoshone in Wyoming, where she died in 1884.

Pocatello was born in present-day northwestern Utah. He was the leader of the Shoshoni at the time of the arrival of the Mormons into Utah in the late 1840s. In 1850s he led a series of attacks against emigrant parties in the Utah Territory and along the Oregon Trail. He gained a reputation among Mormon leaders and Indian agents as a leader of an "outlaw" band of Native Americans. Brigham Young, the leader of the Mormons, attempted a policy of reconciliation and appeasement of the Shoshoni, but the arrival of the United States Army in the Utah Territory in 1858 exacerbated tensions between the emigrants and the Shoshoni.

In January 1863, Pocatello received advance notice of the advance of U.S. Army troops from Fort Douglas under Colonel Patrick Edward Connor, who had set out to "chastise" the Shoshoni. Pocatello was able to lead his people out of harm's way from the Army, thus avoiding the catastrophe of the Bear River Massacre. Pocatello sued for peace after pursuit from the Army. Pocatello agreed to relocate his people to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation along the Snake River. Although the U.S. government had promised $5,000 in annual supplies, the relief rarely arrived, forcing continuing suffering and struggle among the Shoshoni.

In 1875, faced with starvation among his people, Pocatello led them to the Mormon missionary farm of George Hill in Corinne, Utah, with the hope that a mass conversion of his people to Mormonism would alleviate his people's suffering. Although the missionaries willingly baptized the Shoshoni, the local population of white settlers did not receive the Shoshoni openly and agitated for their expulsion. In response, the U.S. Army forced the Shoshoni to return to the Fort Hall Reservation.

In the late 1870s Pocatello granted a right-of-way to Jay Gould to extend the Utah and Northern Railway across the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The extension of the railroad was motivated by the increasing flood of settlers into the Idaho Territory following the discovery of gold. The city of Pocatello, Idaho, founded along the railroad during this time, is named for him.

After his death in 1884, Pocatello's body was interred in a deep spring in Idaho along with his clothing, guns, knives, and hunting equipment. Eighteen horses were also slaughtered and put into the spring on top of his body.



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