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, is a noun (a thing) and a verb (an action), and therefore, they both have infinite power in all worlds.
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.
Scene from Sacajawea, The Windcatcher After a harrowing trek, near-starvation and dangerous conditions, the explorers finally make it across the treacherous mountains led by Old Toby, the Shoshoni guide. Their clothes are rotting off their backs – their moccasins worn through, and the lack of food and water has made them weak and vulnerable. But then, their guide sees the crooked tree trunk, affirming the trail. He points ahead… and they continue to trudge onward on a worn path through the trees until they arrive at an abandoned Indian village.
Sacajawea and the men are exhausted, the baby is hungry and crying. A large pack of wild dogs yelp and run around them, pulling at their clothes, sniffing the packs…
Then, without warning, a band of Nez Perce warriors with spears raised, rush the group, threatening to kill them, grabbing for their guns – intensity rises. But, an elder woman of the tribe, Watkuweis, a shaman, comes forward, wielding authority…. She protects the explorers, rattling the animal sculls on her staff and singing a high-pitched trill.
In that moment, not only does the woman see Sacajawea with her eyes – she also sees her heart through a greater vision. Watkuweis touches Sacajawea’s chest and says, “Your spirit is weak…”
We know something about Sacajawea and her people, through her respect for her elders – both for her chief, Cameahwait, and the shaman. As the story goes, Sacajawea had just faced a devastating disappointment and loss that forced her to arrive at this place.
But the shaman already knew Sacajawea was coming, and she had a prophesy for her that would change her life. Though it was cryptic and seemed filled with the unknown in this moment – by the end of the story, the one thing Sacajawea cherished the most, would be protected by it.
Being shown the vision of her own hurting spirit gave Sacajawea determination, as Watkuweis told her, “Your hurt will lead you to another.” The elder woman saw far beyond where Sacajawea was in that moment – and Sacajawea honored the elder by trusting her wisdom without hesitation, despite the darkness of her circumstances.
What would life be like without the darkness? The darkness gives us depth perception, choice and opportunity. Without darkness, we could not, nor would not, appreciate the light. Be thankful and grateful in all things.
And keep walking…*
These words came from our journey to tell the story of Sacajawea. The depth of her sorrow, the sadness and disappointment formed a great lesson for each of us. She saw through transparent vision, because of her respect for her elders, to carry-on, to be more than what she felt, to look past what her immediate situation was showing her. Therefore, we remember this young Shoshoni girl, and it is one reason we believe, and know, her story WILL be shared, in the perfect timing, with the entire world.
*From the book, “Awakening” the lessons learned from Sacajawea and our journey.
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!
When Sacajawea was a little girl, she was kidnapped, abused and heartsick. She had to live with people she didn’t know. Yet the Great Spirit was showing her something, for her heart was known…
What Sacajawea felt and saw, and what she chose to do helped her become the person she needed to be. For she was given a unique and magnificent purpose that transcended her lifetime.
What we do on this earth is only part of what we bring to generations. The body is merely temporal – our energy, our spirit, our vibration lasts an eternity.
Sacajawea has continued her journey for over 200 years. She still walks toward her purpose through the hearts of those who are open to learn and to listen. The days we breathe are the days we learn, and the revelations we awaken to, are what we bring to eternity. That is what ignites love in the world.
It is Sacajawea’s destiny to stoke the fire through her story and her light. It is our destiny, too.
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!
A great vision is needed and the one who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky. ~Ta Shunke Witko
In an eagle there is all the wisdom of the world. ~Lame Deer
I am in awe and wonder at Indigenous wisdom and I am so very grateful… During the four years of writing the screenplay, Sacajawea, The Windcatcher, I noticed a bald eagle flying back and forth, nearly every day, across the field outside my office window. He was there in the morning and the evening, always landing on the very top branch of the same evergreen tree. He would slowly turn to survey his domain, so regal, so empowered by his surroundings. It was a mystical wonder, though at the time I did not fully understand why…
But, my research began to show the way. I learned that many Indigenous cultures give names, or take their names, from something they have accomplished or something that has meaning to their personal or spiritual lives. Historical records show that SacaGawea’s name was originally given to her by the Hidatsa people who captured her. The meaning of her name was, “Bird Woman.” So, I knew the birds, the raptors, the flying beings were significant somehow in her life. The Hidatsa saw it and honored it, so her story must honor it, too. I came to understand and believe the eagle was showing me.
This energy within the Sacajawea story grew and evolved as the words came to life, as her character and person began to come forth, and as more magnificent wonders were shown to us as we continued to walk. Symbolically, in the story, the eagle became Sacajawea’s Spiritual guide. He waited at the top of the trees above her… he came to her when she called. And her spirit was embraced, in her heartache, by his tender care.
MYSTICAL WONDERS: While writing this post, I wanted to find a picture of the tree the eagle landed on, near my home. I had to search through the photos from years and years ago… suddenly I was taken aback, in awe. I remembered snapping the picture and at the time not thinking about the tree. It was the rainbow that attracted me then. But this is how Spirit works, it gets our attention… and if we listen and act on our intuition (even though we don’t know everything), later – even years later – the reasons are revealed. You see, in this photo, it is not the rainbow that is the true meaning for us today as I write about the eagle. It is the eagle’s tree and how creation’s rainbow shines upon it. It is an affirmation that we can claim, at this moment, that we are on the right path.
We are truly humbled and blessed by these intricate, Spiritual messages that continue to shine a brilliant light on Indigenous beliefs, cultures and traditions that benefit us all. Through these revelations, I believe Sacajawea is showing us something remarkable, a healing power that will lift up people of the world. It is not about the color of our skin, our ethnicity or anything else – it is about our Universal Spirituality and remembering our Oneness with each other, and respect for the Earth.
Let us soar together on eagle’s wings…
Here are some of the many eagles that have personally led us on this powerful path:
Sacajawea, The Windcatcher, gives us a look at injustice in the early 1800s. Though we have come a distance with racial and gender issues in our country, we have a greater distance to travel. Our storyline presents an awareness we all need to embrace as free human beings.
While this film is Sacajawea’s story, there is another character whose life experience, and future outlook, run parallel to hers… York, Clark’s slave. York is 6’4” tall, with a big, boisterous laugh and a strong, rich singing voice. He is William Clark’s servant from childhood. Therefore, it is fitting that York accompanies Clark on this arduous journey.
In our story, we see York rise as a vital part of the Lewis and Clark expedition. He is looked up to by the Hidatsa and Mandan villagers, who are enamored by his black skin and long, curly hair – they think he is a “god.”
And even though he is a slave, on the expedition he is “allowed” to carry a gun and he is free to roam alone over the hillsides, hunt and protect the men. He is trusted, even though it is out of necessity.
Many evenings, around the campfire, York sings slave songs and dances with baby Pomp in his arms, delighting the soldiers. He loves Sacajawea’s child and greatly helps her on this harrowing trek.
One of the most powerful scenes in this film is at Station Camp, near the mouth of the Columbia River. It is November, and the corps must vote on where to build their winter fort. This is an official government decision, and as Sacajawea and York look on, they are astonished when Captain Clark asks them both to join the vote. An Indigenous woman and a black slave called to vote, before they even have the right to vote. This is a magnificent and empowering scene.
But, there is a constant shadow hanging over York… knowing he will have to return to his life as a slave. As he stands with Sacajawea at the ocean, he watches the rhythmic, unending waves with deep sadness. And, he says to her, “I be almost free here, now… but soon we go back.”
Sacajawea and York are both slaves in their own way. They cannot live their lives in freedom. The small freedoms they experience on the expedition, are not totally by choice. Yet, they both rise and embrace what they should always have, as people. Years later, Captain Clark acknowledges Sacajawea’s contributions and eventually gives York his freedom.
As with so many over the Ages, the treatment of these two human beings was not acceptable. But, our story shows the relationships and how the soldiers, in that snapshot of history, were able to accept them as individuals, even though it was out of need. We will never know if this changed the lives of these men in any way after they returned east.
But, one thing we believe, in that short moment in time, Sacajawea and York became relevant for us today. The darkness, the injustice, reveals the light. Their stories reveal the light. We are on a quest to open the doors wider, to help the light shine brighter, to bring the voice of truth to the world through this diverse and unique Journey of Discovery, so aptly named.
Sacajawea, TheWindcatcher, an International feature film production about the life of Sacajawea, is proud to welcome award-winning cinematographer, Mr. Robert Shacklady, as Director of Photography.
Robert is an internationally renowned cinematographer with a long track record of awards for the projects he has worked on around the globe. He is a voting BAFTA member and a member of the GBCT (Guild of British Camera Technicians). His wealth of experience comes from years in the film industry. Over his career, he shot for iconic brands such as BMW, McLaren, Ford, Boohoo, Philips, LG and he has worked with A-list actors such as Tom Hardy, Keanu Reeves, Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Craig, at some of the most amazing locations around the world including South Korea, Thailand, South Africa, Morocco, Sweden and Mexico.
Robert shot many feature films in the past, and he is currently cinematographer for several upcoming productions. He also worked on blockbusters such as Casino Royale; The World is Not Enough; The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising; Entrapment; Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and The Beach. He shot several TV series including, Shadows of Death; award-winning, Serial Killer: Angel of Decay and additional photography for the Period series Sanditon. Robert’s diverse work has also included documentaries such as The Queen and the Coup about Queen Elizabeth II.
Robert has the unique ability to combine classical filmmaking with cutting edge technologies, technics, and innovations. This creative understanding allows him to achieve a sumptuous cinematic look and style for each film.
“Sacajawea’s story is an epic tale set against the backdrop of amazing natural beauty. I am really looking forward to cinematically translating her emotional journey for audiences to embrace and enjoy.”
~ Robert Shacklady
The Sacajawea team is extremely fortunate to have attracted Robert Shacklady as cinematographer for the production. With its majestic, cinematic locations, its epic scope, and the deeply personal insight of Sacajawea, Robert will capture her relationship with not only nature and her surroundings but also with the Indigenous vision she sees through her own eyes.
The entire production team is humbled and grateful to welcome Robert Shacklady to this important film that honors the contributions of all women in history, from around the world. www.warriorwomanspirit.com
For more about Robert and his dynamic career, please visit IMDB at: