Getting Shoshone horses - and help to cross the beautiful, forbidding, seemingly impassable Bitterroot Mountains of Montana and Idaho - was critical for the Corps of Discovery to keep moving forward. These needs were uppermost in the leaders’ minds, according to their Journals, but for a long time the explorers could not locate the Shoshone.
When Lewis finally made contact with them, he knew the fate of his mission was more in their hands than in his own. As Lewis and Clark parlayed with the Shoshone chief, Cameahwait, Sacajawea interpreted. Listening to the men talk, she made an incredible discovery. Cameahwait, the chief, was her brother!
She instantly jumped up, and ran and embraced him . . . After some conversation between them she . . . attempted to interpret for us, but her new situation seemed to overpower her, and she was frequently interrupted by her tears.
Knowing that Sacajawea, a daughter of the Shoshones, was traveling with the expedition greatly affected how the tribe viewed the Corps. Not only did the Indians sell the group much-needed horses, they provided a guide to lead them across the Bitterroots.
Even so, the trip was filled with hardship. These white men, from east of the Mississippi River, were traveling across a land completely foreign to them. It has been said that white Easterners of the time knew more about the face of the moon than they knew about the interior of the American continent.