From Sacajawea, The Windcatcher – It is June, 1805, along the Missouri River. Sacajawea’s fever is broken after being deathly sick. She sits on a rock in the shallows of the river, cleansing herself, braiding her hair and preparing her face in the tradition of her people.
At the edge of the trees, Captain Clark waits, guarding with his gun ready. He looks the other way from Sacajawea, his eyes scanning into the forest.
Suddenly, he is startled when the girl appears from nowhere, next to him. “You are better!” he says with great relief. He looks closely at the vermilion lines drawn across her forehead and in the part of her hair. “What do these markings mean?”
Sacajawea smiles, “It is from my people, to show how we walk. It means, the Spirit is with us. It says we come in peace.”
Captain Clark’s face softens when he realizes Sacajawea has been wearing the vermilion the entire journey. And, because of her, all the tribes they’ve met along the way knew they were peaceful…
Sacajawea was true to herself and her traditions. She walked with love and an innate knowing that “in peace” we find Creator – though she was not afraid to do what’s right, even if it caused discontent. For Sacajawea was very aware of light and dark, as one cannot exist without the other. She also knew that peace would not be a relevant truth without chaos.
The question is, which one leads us and what will we leave behind for others? Sacajawea knew the explorers would be killed if she did not go before them, proclaiming the “peaceful” traditions of her people.
Peace, as Love, isa noun (a thing) anda verb (an action),and therefore,they hold Infiniteand Universalpower in allWorlds...
We are on an amazing exploration – a journey to finally give credit to a brave woman. Like the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it is a literal Journey of Discovery…
But it can also be described metaphorically with its harrowing ups and downs. The snow-capped mountain peaks and deep, narrow valleys – the dangerous and unpredictable waterways and thunderous, life-threatening weather. It is a tenuous trek as we make our way.
But, we are undaunted, connecting to the right “guides,” the right timing and taking the leaps of “Faith” that send our sunbeams over the highest mountaintops.
This is a journey of intense determination as we have set our compass on a cinematic course – a path to share this story through film with the world.
Sometimes it is hard, but we have never lost sight of the prize. And, those of you who encourage us, support us and keep us going are vital to our success. We thank you!
So, what about this Windcatcher, Sacajawea? Who would have ever believed, or predicted, that a girl of 16 years old would be so loved today by people around the globe?
Yes, the backdrop is Lewis and Clark, but have you ever thought about what would possess two young captains to actually agree to bring a baby and his mother into unknown territory? (“Unknown” to them, but not to her.) And, if they had not brought them, would the soldiers have been killed along the way? Would they have convinced the Shoshoni to give them horses for the trek over the mountains? Would they have had the same joyful morale without that “little dancing boy” to delight them? I think not.
This is an important story for us all. We are hopeful that in this new year, 2022, we will rise above the wind and finally reach the Great Water.
This journey we travel is, without a doubt, the most amazing yet cantankerous trail we’ve ever experienced. It is a mixture of harsh reality in a literal world and a spirituality that truly blows us away at every turn. We are honored to be a part of this mosaic – and feel we are just a piece of the puzzle that once put together, will be so flowing with wisdom and power that each of us who touch this woman’s life, will never be the same.
One of the motivations of this project is the commitment to get it right. To bring to life native culture and characters, authentic words and actions that depict the indigenous people of that time period in the most believable and accurate way. And, more importantly, to beautifully present the “person” of Sacajawea so we deeply connect to who she was, how she lived, and what she felt — yes, a human being we all will want to love and remember.
The most vital and inspiring purpose of this Sacajawea project is to lift up and honor the proud heritage that flows through the blood of Native people. And, to recognize it by selecting Native Americans to be a part of the production team in key positions, including producers, actors and crew. The opportunities are astounding for Native film professionals, not just through the feature film, Sacajawea, The Windcatcher, but also the other productions associated with the film.
Through this project and our invaluable Vision Quest Film Internship program, we intend to give inspiration to the next generation of magic makers. We encourage native women to get involved in their dreams, especially if their dreams are in film. In addition, young men will have the opportunity to explore aspects of the movie industry and further their careers.
With Sacajawea as our focal point, we respect and honor women of Native cultures who are considered givers-of-life, healers, visionaries, and they are the vessels that carry history forward so the stories are told. Sacajawea, a Warrior Woman, certainly fits this description, for her contributions were many as a mother and a friend; interpreter and a guide. Her hands and handiwork are woven perfectly into the fabric of life even today, and we are eager to bring this mentor and role model to the spotlight for all to know!
“Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.”
~ Black Elk
Thoughts from the Story of Sacajawea —
It is February 11,1805. The biting wind rattles the shutters of the room at Fort Mandan. Outside, a full moon shimmers off the icy backs of buffalo, and a wolf stretches his neck out to howl across the frozen river.
It is a frigid night, yet a night that changes everything … for a newborn babe is born at Fort Mandan. Sacajawea, only 16 years old, through a difficult and painful birth, delivers her first child, a son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (Pomp). The explorers don’t realize it, but that night miraculously “shifts” the energy of the entire expedition. That night the “Universe” calls each of them to a new, higher purpose, through a brilliant Light – a child with unlimited possibilities.
At the time, the explorers and Sacajawea, did not know their position in the matrix of history. In fact, Captain Lewis had his doubts about taking a baby on that harrowing trek. None of the men understood the child’s importance for future generations. But, through the experience, each of the men were “called” to this unique moment in time, to help nurture the first-year of a child’s life. Indeed, it was a journey of discovery in more ways than one.
They watched him smile and laugh for the first time, they watched him crawl and walk and begin to eat on his own, and talk. They worried for his safety and some nearly gave their lives for his life. York, 6’4” African American slave, sang to him and carried him high above his head around the camp fire. Captain Clark loved him so much he nicknamed him “Pomp,” and called him his “little dancing boy.” They all cheered when he took his first step after a particularly stressful day on the trail.
The foundation of a human being’s journey begins in the first year of life. Like a sponge they soak up every light and dark moment. Sacajawea and 31 men gave this little boy his beginning, and the expedition was far more enriched and powerful because of the child. Children are brought into our lives not only for us to teach them, but for them to teach us how to remember our spiritual selves – the ultimate calling. In Sacajawea’s story, it is Pomp who helps his mother deliver the prayer at the Great Water – a message to all people of the world.
After the expedition, Captain Clark did not forget about Pomp. When he was nine years old, the captain became his benefactor and gave him an education. The young man grew up and traveled to Europe, where he learned five languages and danced with queens.
Ultimately, Pomp became an explorer and an interpreter, known as a “storyteller” around the campfires of the old west. And what incredible stories he had to tell! No one knows what his life would have been like, if he had not been a part of the Lewis and Clark expedition. But, indeed, he was richly blessed with a unique and magnificent “first-year” journey of a lifetime.
“The language of the People makes my heart soar like a hawk.”
~ Chief Dan George
SACAJAWEA, The Windcatcher, gives us a unique opportunity to share with the world important languages that deserve to be protected and preserved.
Many Indigenous cultural dialects depicted in the Sacajawea story, have never been heard by most modern day people. The languages include: Shoshoni, Hidatsa, Mandan, Blackfeet, Nez Perce, Flathead, Snake and Clatsop.
As Lewis and Clark history records, one of the most moving encounters was when the captains needed horses from the Shoshoni to traverse the mountains. Sacajawea’s language proficiency was why she was on the expedition. They interpreted from Shoshoni (Sacajawea) to Hidatsa (Charbonneau, Sacajawea’s husband) to French (Private Labiche) to English. This exchange will create a powerful and meaningful scene in this majestic film.
Along with Sacajawea’s knowledge of Shoshoni and Hidatsa, we will show how she gradually learned English to help communicate throughout the story.
Other interpreters on the expedition included corps members: Private Labiche and George Drouillard, and a French fur trapper, Rene Jessaume. All these men were proficient in sign language and spoke English and French.
We will strive to present these languages creatively, using the universal sign language familiar at the time – to bridge the gap between understanding. Dialogue will be subtitled so we actually hear the words of the People in their own language, allowing the audience to participate more authentically in this emotional, epic adventure.
Soon, we will be sharing new members of our team who will help to bring our passion for authenticity through language to the world! Think of that, the WORLD will hear the words of Indigenous people from 1805, and a new awakening will begin!
The producers of Sacajawea, TheWindcatcher, an International feature film project about the life of Sacajawea, are proud to welcome Jhane Myers, award-winning producer and actor for the character of “Otter Woman.”
Jhane (Comanche/ Blackfeet) has garnered awards as a filmmaker, producer, actor, Native adviser and an artist of traditional jewelry and regalia. She was selected as one of the featured fine artists for the first ever Comanche Fine Artist calendar for 2016. She is a noted fourth generation dressmaker, third generation doll maker, beadworker and traditional regalia designer. She has worked in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, D.C and NYC, the Wheelwright Museum, the Indian Craft Shop D.C., the Autry Museum, Comanche Visitors Center and the Blackfeet Heritage Center. She was also a Community Curator to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s popular exhibition and book “Identity by Design.”
Otter Woman was a significant character in Sacajawea’s story. She was the older Shoshoni wife of Toussaint Charbonneau, the fur trapper who traded a gun for Sacajawea. She did not trust the white men, and she did not want the young mother to go with them.
“The relationship between Otter Woman and Sacajawea evolved through our story to be more like a mother and daughter. Jhane Myers is perfect for this role. As an Indigenous woman, a mother, who has worked in film for many years through acting and as a liaison for the tribes, she is invaluable to the production and we are so grateful to have her as Otter Woman.”
~ Jane L. Fitzpatrick
Jhane made history as the founding executive director of the American Indian National Center for Television and Film. The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) formed the Center in Los Angeles, CA, with network partners Disney/ABC, CBS, NBC/Universal and FOX to increase the representation and visibility of American Indian talent in all aspects of the entertainment industry. She made her acting debut in an indie film called Bare (2015). Continuing in film she enjoyed being an associate producer on the PBS documentary La Donna Harris: Indian 101 (2014).
Hailing from the Penetuckah (sugar eater) and Yaparucah (root eater) bands of the Comanche Nation and Blackfeet American Indians, Jhane is dedicated to authentic Indigenous film producing, Native languages, Native cultural advising, acting and fine art. Jhane is a Sundance/ Time Warner Storyteller Fellow (2018) and Producer Fellow for (2017). She is known for the Comanche linguistics and culture in Monsters of God (2017), and Comanche linguistics in Magnificent 7 (2016). Multitalented and articulate, Jhane brought her cultural sense of self and Native community to public relations engagements for the film, Wind River (2017) and for her work as supervising producer of N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear (2019) for the American Masters Series, and as associate producer for the feature documentary, Defending the Fire (2017). Jhane can also be seen on camera in the TV series Native America,New World Rising (2018) and in the Sundance short film Over the Bridge (2016). She has also served as publisher and editor-in-chief of Oklahoma Casinos & Entertainment magazine, a motion picture publicist, directed her own public relations agency, Jhane Myers & Associates, and she has worked as a publicist to Mel Gibson on Apocalypto, which included organizing the premier at The Riverwind Casino in Oklahoma.
The entire production team for the Sacajawea film welcomes Jhane Myers to the project. They believe she will bring vital authenticity to the character of Otter Woman and as a producer on the project, she will also speak to accuracy and the critical Native American elements Sacajawea’s story deserves.
Captain William Clark wrote this to Sacajawea’s husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, in 1806:
“[Y]our woman who accompanied you that long dangerousand fatigueing rout to the Pacific Ocian and back diserveda greater reward for her attention and services onthat rout than we had in our power to give her…”
People of America, we have in our power today to give Sacajawea the acknowledgement and reward she deserves.
I am so very proud and humbled to welcome Leo T. Ariwite, to the Sacajawea production team as Associate Producer. Leo has been on the production for many years as an adviser. He has given us a powerful endorsement that we have cherished for over seven years. Up until now, his quote has only been shared confidentially, but as our Shoshoni liaison, Leo has given us permission to now share it with the world (read it below).
With the telling of her story,Sacajawea, The Windcatcher, we wish to illuminate her quest, and the quest of her People, the Agai’dika Shoshoni.
The “heart” of this production is the spirit of Sacajawea and her love for her People. This journey transcends time and space. It is mesmerizing and astonishing how this incredible path has unfolded, intersecting lives from 200 years ago, with lives from today.
In 2004, while researching for the script, I came across a petition by Leo. This was during the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark expedition. In the document, the Agai’dika Shoshoni People were petitioning the Federal government to acknowledge their People and return to them their sacred mountains and the Salmon River and Lemhi River areas in Idaho. Their requests have fallen on deaf ears.
Over these many years, since our initial contact in 2004, we have met with Leo four times (twice at Fort Hall, Idaho, once at Sacajawea’s birthplace in Salmon, Idaho and in Sun Valley, Idaho in 2019). Leo is a valuable adviser, establishing authenticity, and he’s a credible advocate for the project. As a direct descendant of Sacajawea, he is the inspiration we’ve needed through some difficult times, always encouraging us to keep going.
On July 13, 2013, I received this email from Leo. It is his response to the unyielding force that has driven this Sacajawea project now for 17 years.
“Jane, Your endeavors have brought you to our doorstep and now that the door has opened we must take this journey together as did our people, when ‘they’ came into our country back in 1804/05.
Your quest is still before us as is our journey to return home, and it is with open hearts that we take this walk forward together and re-tell this epic journey in the truthfulness of both our histories. I am proud to say there is now a light at the end of that long dark tunnel, a future and a place we can call home. I am grateful for all the work you have done as I have been on this road and now it seems that I have company (you) to educate this great country of our rich heritage.
Perhaps this is a journey we can all complete as friends and as a people and as a country to learn about how my people opened this country to what it is today, the United States of America. People of all races and nationalities can look at ‘Sacajawea’ and say we came and established ourselves such as she did, and are proud to be Americans.
Please let me know what it is you would want of me and how I may be able to help in this great cause.
Friends always, Leo T. Ariwite, Agai’dika Shoshoni”
As a country, this is the least we can do for this woman who gave of herself in so many meaningful ways. We must come together, we must rise to a higher place and do the right thing for Indigenous People. This is the “greater reward” Captain Clark could not give.
You can join this quest of “two centuries.” You can be a part of history and changing our world. You can help to share the truth about this part of our journey and shine a light on the discrimination of the past toward Native Americans and toward women – discrimination that is still with us today. We must stand together! Sacajawea, The Windcatcher is OUR story, an American story, it is only fitting that WE tell it together! And, it is a story for the world!
Thank you, Leo, for your Indigenous wisdom and dynamic support. Thank you for your calm determination. We formally welcome you to our team!
Sacajawea, TheWindcatcher, an International feature film project about the life of Sacajawea, is proud to welcome Kaären F. Ochoa to the production team, as Director.
Kaären is an award-winning filmmaker, with three DGA Award nominations, the New Mexico Women in Film Sage Award for dedication and leadership in the film industry, and induction into the New Mexico Film & Television Hall of Fame this year. Two documentaries she wrote and field directed, as part of the La Raza Series for ABC/McGraw-Hill, were nominated for the Peabody Award.
With over 30 years in the film industry, Kaären has the knowledge and expertise to bring the character of Sacajawea to life – her history, power, perseverance and passion – all seen from Sacajawea’s perspective – on one of the most significant journeys in United States history.
“Jane Fitzpatrick has written a compelling and suspenseful script that allows us a window into the life and world of Sacajawea as she might have experienced it. A natural world that was wild and beautiful, capricious and often terrifying. A world that was known by the Native people who lived and died, summered and wintered, hunted and birthed within it, but was ‘unknown’ by late-arriving white men who had not yet travelled and trampled it. In this portrayal, Sacajawea is not defined by Lewis and Clark’s expedition, their expedition is defined by Sacajawea.”
~ Kaären F. Ochoa
A member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) since 1986, Kaären has worked as Assistant Director on such films as Milagro Beanfield War and A River RunsThrough It, both with Robert Redford directing; Crazy Heart, directed by Scott Cooper, with Jeff Bridges; Appaloosa, directed by Ed Harris; Selena, directed by Gregory Nava with Jennifer Lopez; Georgia O’Keeffe, directed by Bob Balaban, with Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons and most recently, the Disney film Stargirl. Her television work includes the mini-series Return to Lonesome Dove, Crazy Horse and Into the West. She AD’d the pilots for Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight and Season 2 of The Girlfriend Experience. As Unit Production Manager for Proof of Life, directed by Taylor Hackford, with Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, she spent a year in Ecuador in 2000. In 2011, she was the U.S. Line Producer/UPM on the feature Gambit, starring Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz.
Kaären’s career began in Los Angeles as a writer, co-producer and director on documentaries and children’s films for ABC and PBS. She became a member of the newly formed Women in Film in Los Angeles and later a founder of New Mexico Women in Film, a board member for many years and past president. Since directing three short films, her current writing projects include the rewrite of a feature film in development, which would be her next directing project after Sacajawea, The Windcatcher.
Kaären has enjoyed mentoring other women and men, including many who are now active, long-time filmmakers. She is most proud of her daughter, 1st AD Chemen Ochoa, and her son, David Ochoa, who are both professionals in the film industry.
A mesa top, near Abiquiu, New Mexico, is home to Kaären and her husband, artist Doug Coffin (Potowatomi/Creek), where they enjoy good wine from their cellar and the beautiful views of Georgia O’Keeffe country. The entire Sacajawea production team welcomes Kaären F. Ochoa to the project, as they continue onward to produce this worldwide, epic film.
A brief moment of history had a powerful effect on a New Age, as a group of individuals, the Corps of Discovery, successfully accomplished something together despite their differences. They were soldiers and traders with diverse backgrounds, a black slave who was virtually free on the trek, and a brave, strong warrior woman who endured over 4000 miles with a child on her back. We are still moved and affected by the choices they made together.
Sacajawea, despite her disappointment and sorrow, brought meaning to the group. She was purposeful and determined, knowledgeable and respectful. She was unselfish, yet she had a mind-of-her-own and was not afraid to speak it. Sacajawea did not know then, but she was walking toward a new paradigm for the world…
As a kidnapped Shoshoni girl, a very young mother, Sacajawea had made enormous adjustments and shifts in her personal life up to this point. But she could not have predicted the future, the disillusionment and abuse of Native Americans. And, as the explorers endured this harrowing journey, they had no idea they were on the brink of wider racism, slavery and isolation of a people. A paradigm shift toward the hardening hearts of Humanity.
As with the Universe and all of life, paradigm shifts are moved by positive and negative energy, good and evil forces, light and dark. Humanity plays a key role in how civilizations live and act with each other through time. It is the power of choice that establishes social changes for generations. These choices manipulate and motivate the decisions that define an Era – and not always for the good.
In our time, we are living through unbelievable sickness and death, insufferable economic hardship and intolerable racism. We can be assured the choices we make now, are a pivotal part of our collective journey, vital for Humanity going forward.
We have a great opportunity and purpose to change the conversations of the past, to shine a light on injustice and racism, to stand as One People for All People. What we do now will absolutely set a new and powerful paradigm shift.
It is our time to choose the way ahead, and part of the way is to tell the story of Sacajawea with her life-changing message of Oneness, Peace and Love for Humanity and the Earth. We are privileged to live at this exciting time – indeed, a time of Awakening. Let us press onward to a vision of Truth on the very path Sacajawea and many others were willing to walk – through the darkness, yet always stepping toward the Light.
From Sacajawea, The Windcatcher – A Novel by Jane L. Fitzpatrick
“I saw myself sitting on a narrow strip of land that seemed to never end, weaving along the edge of the sea. Water crashed and climbed over the sand, again and again, creeping up higher toward me.
A mist hung in the sky and there was no definition between it and the earth. It danced with foggy shades of blue, red and gold. The sound was like the rhythm of wind and rain pounding, crashing through a forest, yet, there were no trees. White birds cried with shrill voices, climbing and diving in freedom, transparent in their existence…
An Elder of my people was with me – though I had never seen him before. We sat together by a roaring fire. He took two diamond-shaped shells from his pouch and gave them to me. I followed his caring eyes and I will never forget his words. He told me, ‘These shells were tossed back and forth for ages in the great sea. The sand and rolling waves made the edges smooth and easy to carve into these shapes. You are like the shell, young one. Remember this, for it is part of your journey.’
I believe in visions. I believe they can mirror our path, but I do not know how. I breathe deeply and my heart begins to pound. I lick the shell and taste the salt… a mystery. There is a remembering, like I know something in my soul, yes, something to come.”