I remember my vision from when I was a young girl –

From Sacajawea, The Windcatcher – A Novel by Jane L. Fitzpatrick

Sacajawea shell

“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.”

Who was Sacajawea?

There are two very prominent Native American women in our country’s history.  Pocahontas has been in the spotlight many times. We have seen her depicted in biographies, movies, children’s animated films — her life has been shared over and over again.  We have formed an understanding of who she was, what she did and how she lived.

Sacajawea catches the feather
Art by Marcia K. Moore – Official Artist for the Sacajawea project

But, the other prominent Native American woman, Sacajawea, is a mystery.  There are a few lines about her in history books as she relates to the Corps of Discovery.  We know her name, yet it is controversial.   We know how long she lived, yet it is controversial.  We know she was Shoshone, yet it is controversial… It is hard to know what to share because so many opinions and traditions dance around her existence.

But, what we do know is that from a young age this girl suffered greatly when she was ripped from her family and tossed into a different culture of people and a world with white men.  Who would have ever thought this stolen child would be given an opportunity to contribute to the birth of a Nation?

Sacajawea deserves to be recognized and honored.  If we look deeply, there are many things that are not controversial at all.  She became a strong woman and survived horrendous experiences. She was a devoted mother who cared for her young son and later her daughter. She respected the earth and its riches and knew what would sustain her. She had a betrothed but was forced to have a child with an abusive Frenchman.  Sacajawea was highly respected by the soldiers and they even wrote about her in the Lewis & Clark journals. She was a warrior for peace.

With the documented history and thrilling adventure of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, we have created an intriguing backdrop for the character of Sacajawea based on what we know, based on the traditions of her people and other tribes, and based on the time period.  But, the greatest element of this story, that is evident from both her journey and ours, is Sacajawea’s own determined and transparent Spirit — and her willingness to share it with us.

This is the UNTOLD story of Sacajawea. Welcome to the journey! Please FOLLOW this blog for updates on the project.

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