This artistic impression depicts the facts of an actual event which took place on the 20th of November, 1805. William Clark describes it in his journal: “…one of the Indians had on a roab [robe] made of 2 Sea Otter Skins the fur of them were more butiful [beautiful] than any fur I had ever seen.  Both Capt. Lewis and my Self endeavored to purchase the roab with different articles. At length we procured it for a belt of blue beads which [Sacagawea] wore around her waste.”  

This scene is from a painting by Newman Myrah entitled “Bartering Blue Beads for Otter Robe.” (Fort Clatsop National Memorial Collection FOCL 000104 Cat. No. 698.) Online via The Army Center of Military History ("Explore Frontier Forts of the Lewis and Clark Expedition"). Click on the image for a full-page view.


The Expedition (called the Corps of Discovery) needed interpreters since the two leaders could not communicate with Native Americans on their own:

  • Sacajawea spoke Shoshone and Hidatsa.
  • Her husband spoke Hidatsa and French.
  • One of Lewis and Clark’s men spoke French and English.

The three interpreters also provided the means by which the Expedition could purchase supplies - especially Shoshone horses.

But there was a significant difference between Sacajawea and the rest of the Corps. The young Shoshone was a pregnant teenager. On 11 February 1805, Lewis made a note in his diary:

...about five oClock this evening one of the wives of Charbono [Sacajawea] was delivered of a fine boy [Jean Baptiste]. It is worthy of remark that this was the first child which this woman had boarn, and as is common in such cases her labour was tedious and the pain violent. (Journals, page 80.)

The rest of the journey, Sacajawea carried Jean Baptiste, strapped to her back, while she performed her Corps responsibilities. What she did on a daily basis during the expedition is unclear. But one event dramatically contributed to the mission’s ultimate success.


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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jun 28, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"TEENAGE RESPONSIBILITIES" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 01, 2001. Nov 21, 2019.
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