Northern Shoshone and Bannock
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"How the Indian Averted Famine"
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Agaidika Perspective on Sacajawea
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References Cited

“The name ‘Sacagawea’ is irrelevant to the Lemhi Shoshone people"
(Rozina George).


Sacajawea's (Wadze-wipe's) son is named.


Recognition of relatives

Note: Gary E. Moulton, (editor of The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition) notes that Sacajawea's name was first used in the journals on May 20, 1805. The Expedition met the Shoshone for the first time in August of the same year.

Read account of
Sacajawea by her descendent,
Rozina George

Lemhi Pass > Culture > Naming Ceremonies
Naming Ceremonies, 1805
This image is a copy of a print of "The Naming of Sacajawea", a painting by T. P. Dunlap. (The original was destroyed in a fire at the Lewis & Clark Hotel in Lewiston, Idaho in the early 1920's).
Courtesy Lemhi County Historical Society.

Shoshone Girls Captured
"About the year 1800, a considerable part of the Lemhi tribe, while encamped at the three forks of the Missouri, in what is now Montana, on one of their annual hunts, were attacked by the Pahkeeks and defeated; many men and women being killed and several girls and boys carried away as captives who were treated as property and bought, sold and gambled away the same as any other goods which the Indian possessed. In taking these captives down the Missouri, some passed into other's hands, many of them managed to escape and some returned to the Lemhi country.

"Three of these girl captives were especial chums and always associated together. If they had names before this instance, I have been unable to ascertain them. An Indian child is never given a name until something in life occurs to particularly designate it. It may receive a name the first day of its life or it might not until ten or fifteen years of age. While taking the census of the Lemhis in 1900, I found many that were fifteen years of age with no name" (Rees: ISU Archives).

Wadze-wipe - Lost Woman
"One of these chums managed to escape and returned to the Lemhi country and related to her people the story of the many attempts, made by the Shoshone children, to escape from their captors. She, herself, in getting away, jumped through the water of a stream like a fish leaping about from which incident she was thereafter called, by her nation, Pop-pank, jumping fish. Another of the girls slid into the water similar to an otter escaping down his slide and became designated, by the Shoshonis, Ponzo-bert, meaning otter girl. The third girl was lost in her endeavor to escape, or so thought the girl that had returned, for which reason she was called Wadze-wipe, meaning lost woman. These girls were born and raised in the Lemhi country and at this time were about fourteen years of age. Wadze-wipe, who afterwards came to be called Sacajawea, had been betrothed to another by her father and would soon have been married" (Rees: ISU Archives).

Poo-ey neeve - Maidens of the Grass People
"The two girls, Wadze-wipe and Ponzo-bert, were carried down the Missouri river where they were traded and gambled away by means of the universal hand-game, until they came within the purview of Lewis and Clark, who said of them, "There came into camp two squaws of the Rocky mountains, purchased from the Indians by a French Charbonneau, interpreter of the Gros Ventres nation."At the time of their capture, their captors inquired of them their names and the girls replied, "Poo-ey neeve", meaning maidens of the grass people. Wadze-wipe was the older of the two girls as the Shoshonis always spoke of her as "woman" and the other as "girl".

"Charbonneau called Wadze-wipe, Jenny, but in his French pronunciation it sounded like Janey and it was by this name that Lewis and Clark called her, while in camp." When Lewis and Clark arrived at the Mandan villages, situated near the present city of Bismark, North Dakota, and went into winter quarters in December 1804, they found Charbonneau with a Gros ventre woman and these two Shoshoni girls, all of whom he had taken and lived with as wives" (Rees: ISU Archives).

Sacajawea - Travels with boats being pulled upriver
"Here it was, at the two forks of the Beaverhead river near the present Armstead, Montana, on the 17th day of August 1805, that her own tribe, the Shoshonis, gave Wadze-wipe the name which the members of the Lewis and Clark party understood to be "Sacajawea" and which name was written on this day for the first time in the original journals of this expedition. The word means, "Saca", boat; "Tzaw", pull; "Meah", to go, or "Saca-tzaw-meah", Travels with the boats that are being pulled, as she was with the party who were dragging the boats up the river. The word is pronounced as follows: "Saca" with the first "a" sounded like "a" in father", the second "a" subdued; "Tzaw" the "a" sounded like "a" in "all"; "Meah" the "e" a long sound and the "a" subdued; The accent is upon the "Tzaw" syllable, because the exertion of moving those boats up the stream was the central idea in this word that especially appealed to the Indian" (Rees: ISU Archives).

"While the Indians gave her the name Sacajawea which Lewis and Clark recorded and pepetuated, yet among her own people she was regarded simply as one of the captains "watermen" and always called by them "Pah-tivo"...meaning water white man" (Rees: 1970).

Cameahwait's Name
"The Chief of the Shoshonis at the time of Lewis and Clark was an Indian called "Ca-meah-wait", a word meaning not inclined to go. Clark wrote in the journal for Biddle's benefit, "Cameahwait, one who never walks". Lewis' object in meeting these Indians was to get their aid with their ponies to assist in transporting the explorers and their luggage through and over this primeval country. But the Indians were fearful that Lewis was inveigling them into some trap and at first refused to go. They were usually worsted in battle with the Indians east of the Rocky mountains. When the captain wanted to know the name of their chief, instead of telling his real name, (they) said that he was chief of the tribe that was "not inclined to go." The syllable "meah" in this name meaning to go , travel or walk, is the same as used in "Saca-tzaw-meah", as Lewis always understood this syllable and is conclusive that these names are Shoshoni" (Rees: 1970).