One thing that we tend to do here this time of year in the United States is to focus on two groups: guys and gals in funny black and white outfits and Native Americans. Over the last few decades we have come to learn that much of the information we know about these two groups isn't so accurate. Like, for example, there isn't just one group of Native Americans, as I conveniently described above. =) Thankfully, there are some amazing resources available to us and our children that are in fact accurate and celebrate the honorable role many Native Americans have played throughout history.
Sacajawea of the Shoshone, written by the lovely Natasha Yim, is one such resource. Fortunately for us bloggers, not all research could be included in the final copy of the book and what we get to learn today are some of those awesomely accurate and wonderfully WEIRD facts about Sacajawea that didn't make the cut! Please welcome Natasha Yim!
I have always been fascinated with the story of Sacajawea. She had such an amazing adventure at a time and in territory that was little known at the time. During my research, I uncovered so many fascinating things about her life and travels, it was impossible to include everything in the book without bogging down the story. This is the challenge of writing non-fiction for kids—you have to take all that wealth of information and piles of research notes and funnel it into 2,000 - 2,500 words (Goosebottom Books’ word count length; other publishers will have different limits). We tried to fit some of this information into side bars, but even then, we couldn’t get everything in.
So, here are a few juicy facts that did not make it into the book—my version of Natasha’s Believe it or Not:Weird but Supposedly True Facts of Sacajawea and the Lewis and Clark Expedition:
• Having a baby? Forget the spinal blocks and epidurals during labor. Try some ground up rattlesnake rattles instead! Sacajawea had a difficult and painful labor with her son, and was having a hard time pushing the baby out, so Meriweather Lewis crushed two rattlesnake rattles into a fine powder, mixed it in water, and had Sacajawea drink it. Ten minutes later, little Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau was born!
• Don’t have the time to wash cloth diapers? Spending too much money on disposable ones? Try dried buffalo dung! Native American babies were carried around in a cradleboard strapped to their mother’s backs. To absorb feces and urine, mothers would pack dried buffalo dung around the baby and hold it in place with a blanket. This would be discarded and replaced as needed.
Weird Food Facts
• Favorite foods for the men of the Corps of Discovery were beaver tails and buffalo hump.
• Sacajawea’s husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, apparently made a delicious sausage. He cleaned out buffalo intestine and stuffed it with meat, kidney, liver, salt, pepper and flour, then boiled it in a copper kettle and fried it in bear oil.Weird Travel Facts
• On the Pacific coast, the Corps needed to build a shelter to wait out the rainy winter. Lewis and Clark asked every member of the expedition including Sacajawea, where they should build their fort. Sacajawea wanted the spot to be near where wapato roots (similar to potatoes and something she enjoyed very much) grew in abundance. Clark recorded her vote in his journal, technically making Sacajawea the first woman in American history to have voted!
• William Clark measured their journey from St. Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Ocean to be 4,162. Later measurements with modern equipment showed that Clark was only off by 40 miles!
• On the return trip back to St. Louis, Missouri, Meriweather Lewis was accidentally shot in the butt by Pierre Cruzatte, a partially blind Corps member, who mistook him for an elk!
• Into herbal remedies? How about this for a painful lump on your throat or neck? On the trip, Sacajawea’s son got very sick (possibly from mumps, tonsillitis or an abscess). Clark applied a poultice of wild onion, mixture of pine resin, beeswax and bear oil to his neck. Hmm...the bear oil might be a little hard to come by.
• Historians believe that Sacajawea died of typhoid fever in 1812 at age 25 (making this December the 200th anniversary of her death) at Fort Manuel in South Dakota. The Shoshone, however, claimed that she lived a nomadic life among many Indian tribes, eventually leaving Charbonneau and marrying a Comanche Indian by the name of Jerk Meat. She changed her name to Porivo, and in later life, made her way to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming where she settled with her native Shoshone tribe and died in 1884 at the age of 96