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
"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,...an
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
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
"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:
"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).