[LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION]. SACAGAWEA ("Bird woman") (1788?-1812), Native American (Shoshone) interpreter and guide on Meriwether Lewis's and William Clark's overland expedition, 1804-1806. An elaborate ensemble of 5 matched beaded articles, of European (Dutch?) manufacture, ca. 1800. Consisting of necklace (19½ x 7/8 in.), a wide sash or belt (25½ x 2 in.), two wide bracelets or sleeve circlets (each 6½ x 2 5/8 in.), and a narrow ribbon-like sash to be worn in the hair (44 1/8 x 1/2 in), each beaded in a rich floral pattern of pink roses and yellow and violas amid delicate leafy foliage, the edges of each piece with alternating row of small white beads (a few edge of these border beads missing in a 1/2 length on one side of belt and in two one-inch lengths of one bracelet). Professionally framed for protection.
BEADWORK WORN BY SACAGAWEA, THE INTERPRETER OF THE LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION
A remarkable set of extremely fine beadwork, typical of the best quality beadwork sold and traded to Native Americans through the Hudson's Bay region and carried westward deep into native American lands at this period by traders and voyageurs. Their ownership is directly traceable from William Clark (1770-1838), second-in-command of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Clark in turn had received them from Toussaint Charbonneau, a French frontiersman and trader who had originally given them to Sacagawea, the young Shoshone woman whom he wed, who was the only woman to have accompanied Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery on their epic journey. As they were not of Indian manufacture, the beads became part of Clark's personal collection, separate from his large collection of Indian artifacts displayed at St. Louis in Clark's "Museum of Indian Curiosities." Genealogical details, a 1984 article by Dr. James Neal Primm on other Clark family artifacts belonging to the same family, a supplementary letter from Dr. Primm regarding the authenticity of the Sacagawea beads, and a report by a bead expert accompany the lot.
Born around 1788, Sacagawea was kidnapped by a Hidatsa raiding party in 1800, and taken from her Rocky Mountain home (in present-day Idaho) to the Hidatsa villages in North Dakota. There she was later sold as a slave to a fur trader, Touissant Charbonneau, who made her his wife. Lewis and Clark met the couple at Fort Mandan, Dakota Territory, the expedition's winter quarters for 1804-05, and hired them as translators. Sacagawea's two-month old son, Jean Baptiste, went along as well when the Corps set out again in April 1805. Sacagawea spoke Hidatsa and Shoshone, her husband spoke French and Hidatsa. Neither spoke English, so the chain of translation was long: from Shoshone to Hidatsa, to French and finally to English for Lewis and Clark.
"Sacagawea turned out to be incredibly valuable to the Corps as it traveled westward," writes historian Irving Anderson. Tribes that might otherwise have reacted violently to strangers, "were inclined to believe that the whites were friendly when they saw Sacagawea. A war party never traveled with a woman--especially a woman with a baby." She successfully negotiated the trading of horses and supplies, and navigated the expedition through Shoshone territory. Clark called her his "pilot" and she led the expedition through the Bozeman Pass to the Yellowstone River. She even rediscovered her family and had an emotional reunion with her brother, Chief Cameahwait, in August 1805. Sacagawea left the expedition upon its return to Fort Mandan in August 1806. The government paid her husband $500.33 and 320 acres of land, but she received nothing. She died shortly after the birth of her daughter Lisette in December 1812. Clark legally adopted both children eight months later.
Provenance: Toussaint Charbonneau, presented to -- Sacagawea, his wife -- William Clark (1770-1838), gift of Sacagawea (before 1812) -- George Rogers Hancock Clark (1816-1858), son of the preceding. and Eleanor Anne Glasgow -- Julia Clark (1842-1893), daughter of the preceding -- Samuel McGuire and Peggy Wadsworth, first cousin of the preceding -- the present owner, a niece of the preceding.