Thursday, October 14, 2021

Honoring Sacagawea's starring role in the Lewis and Clark expedition

The Sacajawea Inn in Three Forks, Montana, honors one of the most revered women in the history
of the United States. Whether spelled with a "j" or a "g," dozens of parks, museums, halls and mountains are named after the famous guide, interpreter and friend of Lewis and Clark.

The structures of Fort Clatsop were simple. Two large
buildings were surrounded by large walls. Most of
the men lived in one structure, while Lewis, Clark,
Sacagawea, her husband Toussaint Charbonneau,
and their son, Jean Baptiste, stayed in the other.



THE DARING AND bravery of the Lewis and Clark Expedition live on in the West, 216 years after the Corps of Discovery explored the rugged terrain between St. Louis and the Pacific Ocean. While these two smart and daring men deserve accolades -- along with President Jefferson who engineered the trip -- the true hero of the long and arduous journey was the multi-lingual Shoshone woman. For it was she who  helped chart the trail, making invaluable inroads with native people encountered along the way.

The lobby of the Sacajawea Hotel (spelled with a "j") in
Three Forks offers western hospitality in understated elegance.
SACAGAWEA -- a member of the Lemhi Shoshone tribe --was only 16 when drafted into service.  She proved herself an able guide, interpreter, peace maker and medicine woman, gathering important documents, tools, and medicines, while taking care of an infant son. During negotiations with the Shoshones for horses, she was reunited with her brother.
WERE IT NOT for her finesse, quick thinking and multiple talents in  wilderness survival, historians believe the expedition might have failed.  Surely, she kept it from disaster, advising Lewis and Clark on the route, introducing the explorers to native people, suggesting the best places to camp. Her knowledge helped the expedition navigate mountain passes in the vast Louisiana Territory. Her prowess as a guide and interpretor complimented her diplomacy in encountering people along the way.  Her contributions altered the course of history in this daring search for a route over the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean.
The Sacajawea Interpretive Center tells the story
of the Corps of Discovery and stresses the
important role that Sacajawea played.

TO RECOGNIZE her importance, dozens of parks, museums, mountains and even a posh Montana inn are named after the skillful and multi-talented woman.  In Montana, the historic Sacajawea Hotel (spelled with a "j" not a "g") offers history and old-fashioned charm accented by contemporary amenities, fine dining and luxurious accommodations.
Front desk clerk and amiable
concierge Alex Kyser keeps
everythig running smoothly
at the Sacajawea Hotel
We met guests from Vermont, Florida, Arizona and Italy during our two-day visit capping an  American Cruise Lines journey on the Lewis and Clark trail.  
WE SIPPED welcome champagne in the elegant lobby, which offers understated western ambiance. An attentive concierge, Alex, manned  the front desk, and gave us the menu to contemplate our dinner choices at the excellent restaurant.
For more than a century, the Three Forks, Montana, inn has welcomed travelers from around the globe. The hotel is a major downtown attraction. Tourists use it as a base to explore nearby Lewis and Clark Caverns and the "three forks" of the rivers.  Here the Jefferson, Gallatin and Madison rivers join to form the great Missouri.

The skills and diplomacy of Sacagawea
likely saved the expedition from disaster.
 Our 10-day Lewis and Clark odyssey ended at "the Sac," as it is affectionately known. The imposing hotel attracts history aficionados, outdoorsmen and travelers accustomed to comfort and pampering, including morning coffee and homemade banana bread.
A young "Pomp"
carried by his
now famous mother
HOW TO PRONOUNCE and spell that famous name? Is it Sacajawea or Sacagawea? The latter is the most widely used spelling, pronounced with a hard "g" sound. Most of us grew up spelling and pronouncing it with a soft "g" or "j" sound. Both spellings and pronunciations are recognized. Lewis and Clark's  journals mention Sacagawea by name seventeen times but spelled in eight different ways.
 SACAJAWEA HISTORICAL State Park and the Pasco, Washington, ("j" spelling here) offers a wonderful interpretive center  honoring the woman whose quiet, peaceful ways helped establish the explorers as friends, not foes coming to conquer.
  Her presence as a woman helped dispel notions to the Native tribes that the company intended to capture or harm, and confirmed the peacefulness of their mission. Her young son, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, became America's youngest explorer. "Pomp" was cared for and educated by Clark after his mother's untimely death following the birth of her daughter.  She was only 25. 
Trapeze artistry is at its finest in the Santos Family, a high-
flying quartet of gifted women who thrill the audience.
Welcome to the Big Top as we visit the Zoppe Italian Family Circus, on tour in the United States and in residence now at Redwood City, California.  Clowns, contortionists, acrobats, dancing dogs and more await sell-out audiences in a spectacular, old-fashioned circus show.   Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each week for a fresh look at travel, the arts, cruising, families, nature, pets and life on the road. We appreciate sharing the links and telling friends and like-minded people about 


  1. Wyoming History BuffsOctober 20, 2021 at 3:57 PM

    Wonderful overview of the life of an extraordinary woman and the legacy she left us.

  2. Minneapolis MavericksOctober 20, 2021 at 3:58 PM

    We make the Sacajawea Hotel part of our summer Yellowstone Park tour. Wonderful place and terrific restaurant.