JANE L. FITZPATRICK
So many experiences in my life do not make sense in my mind, as they relate to this Sacajawea project. I didn’t realize it at first, I just knew I had to write the story. But then, I began to see an uncanny number of circumstances and details spiritually guiding and leading me, even before I could listen to them.
The first one was the day I was born. We lived in Richland, Washington, along the Columbia River where the expedition came through in 1805. For some reason, my parents named me Jane (Janie/Janey — This was the name William Clark gave to Sacajawea because he couldn’t pronounce her name). This would not seem unusual, nor would the fact that our dearest family friends were the Brattons, descendants of Private William Bratton a member of the Corps of Discovery.
The years went by and we moved to many places, but in 1962 we landed in Portland, Oregon. My best friends in high school were Cliff Lewis, John Clark and Jayne Scott (another Jane). We went to Seaside and Cannon Beach (places Sacajawea had been) nearly every weekend. And still, I didn’t think anything about this as it would relate to Sacajawea and her story.
Life went on, many people came in and out of my path who were somehow associated through ancestors with the Lewis and Clark story, the Charbonneaus, Meriwether Lewis…. But in 1987, my husband, kids and I were traveling back to Washington from Indiana (where my husband finished his college). As happened, due to driving the “beautiful,” but rough back roads across Montana, our car broke down in Bozeman.
Now that would seem like tough luck, but we were trapped there in that picturesque, mountainous setting for three days. While we waited for our car to be repaired something very strong captured our attention and made us realize, for some reason, we had to stay. So, we listened to our hearts and stayed for three years. We found jobs and bought a house.
My husband was a teacher and his class was studying Lewis and Clark. One day we took his students on a field trip to Three Forks, Montana (where Sacajawea was brutally kidnapped from her people in about 1800). I never expected to be so overcome with emotion that day. I just walked the rivers and Fort Rock, making sketches of the plants and watching the eagles above me…
The next Saturday, May 20, 1989, I told my husband I had to go back there, I didn’t know why but I needed to go by myself. He was very supportive of me following my heart. That day, I sat on the cliff looking over the rivers — watching the eagles soar. I was thinking about Sacajawea, and I couldn’t stop the tears welling up in my eyes — when a gentle voice echoed in my soul, “I want you to write my story.”
Up until this point, I had never put anything together about my life and this woman of history. I started to write the story as a children’s book but realized it was not a children’s story. To do her justice and honor her path, she wanted me to tell the hard things so we could see what she had been through and how she survived.
I didn’t exactly know how to proceed, but actually, I wasn’t ready in myself to proceed. I put the three chapters away in a box, and in 1990 we moved on to Washington State. It was at this time that I started to walk toward my own Spiritual Awakening. From 1996-2003, I began to open to the spirit within me and listen closer to my intuition.
In 2003, my daughter, Jerah, was going to film school in California. She said to me, “Mom, you should write that book you started into a screenplay.”
At this time, I began to notice eagles, hawks and ravens constantly flying over my path. There was an eagle that soared over a neighboring field, always landing on a tall evergreen tree — I could see him from my writing desk. And, a hawk flew back and forth in the same field every day. There was something extremely powerful and inspiring in that…
My heart was truly full with this task I was undertaking. I drew a timeline across the wall and with notecards I taped all the places on the timeline where Sacajawea was mentioned in the journals. It was very little — and I had to somehow find the rest of the story.
One day I was in Barnes and Noble and came across a paperweight. It had a quote engraved around it by Michelangelo, “I saw the angel in the granite and carved until I set him free.” I became emotional right there in the store — it struck deeply. Within the mass of history about the expedition, the story through her eyes was there, somewhere — I just had to carve and set it free.
And, that’s when all the experiences in my life that pointed to this woman, started to take shape in my heart. It was a revelation that Sacajawea was with me, guiding me, truly wanting me to write her story. So, I said to myself and to her, “I feel you. I see you. And, I will give everything it takes to share you with the world.”
I was determined. It took four years to grasp the essence of her purpose. I had to get out-of-the-way. I had to let go of my inhibitions and stereotypes. I had to get past feeling “unworthy” to tell the story and be willing to write it with all the joys and with all the pain. I will never completely understand all I had to go through or why, but I know I am a better person for pouring out myself because that is what this journey has required.
There is history. And, there is Spirit. Sometimes telling the story accurately requires opening to a voice from another realm, spending “40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness,” and reconciling to the fact that we don’t know everything.
If I didn’t care, I could have sold this screenplay long ago. But, I do care, for it is a dream, a Calling — a leading all my life. It has taken great personal sacrifice, yet I have been fully blessed with the things that matter. If it takes my last breath, I will share, not just the literal history that we know, but “who” she was, and how she felt, and what her precious life was about.
Sacajawea’s overall message for today is powerful…. it is what this world needs to continue. It is a remembering that we are all connected to each other and to Mother Earth. We must each open to this “knowing” and believe. We must give her a voice. We must love.
I may never fully understand why I was Called to write the story of this beautiful, Native American woman…. and I expect others may not fully understand either. But, one thing I have learned, “truth” is absolutely not what we think in our minds. We never stop learning, and my spiritual journey continues every day.
Magical energy embraces Sacajawea’s team as we gather together around this production. She is Calling those who are to be part of this journey. The wonders, the mysteries, the miracles, the blessings continue as we walk toward this Call. It is a Journey of Discovery!
In gratitude and thanksgiving,
PHOTO: In May 2015, I returned to Three Forks, MT, at Fort Rock, the exact place where Sacajawea asked me to write her story in May 1989. I placed the script on a rock and told her I have done what she asked and I believe she will honor this Call. Many blessings.
Short Bio – As a writer, my passion is to bring the stories of history to life. I have been writing for more than 30 years, including creative and business writing, website content and blogging. The epic screenplay, Sacajawea, The Windcatcher, is a story that touched me deeply. It required me to change, to get out-of-the-way and awaken. I was humbled when the script was selected and nominated for BEST PERIOD PIECE by the 2013 Action On Film International Film Festival. At this time, I am writing the story into a novel by the same name, to accompany the film’s distribution. It has also been my dream to write stories for children. Therefore, I completed a family-centered spec script entitled, Kimama’s Wings, and a pre-teen chapter book, Crabtree, which is being developed for film. One of my greatest joys was to collaborate with my daughter and granddaughter for the illustrations, and publish the children’s book, The Grass Maiden, Sacajawea, based on my research from the feature film. It was important to create a story to share Sacajawea’s message of love with children. Other projects related to Sacajawea are in development as well as a miniseries based on her son’s life.
~ Jane L. Fitzpatrick