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4.3 52
by Anna L. Waldo

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Clad in a doeskin, alone and unafraid, she stood straight and proud before the onrushing forces of America's destiny: Sacajawea, child of a Shoshoni chief, lone woman on Lewis and Clark's historic trek -- beautiful spear of a dying nation.

She knew many men, walked many miles. From the whispering prairies, across the Great Divide to the crystal capped Rockies


Clad in a doeskin, alone and unafraid, she stood straight and proud before the onrushing forces of America's destiny: Sacajawea, child of a Shoshoni chief, lone woman on Lewis and Clark's historic trek -- beautiful spear of a dying nation.

She knew many men, walked many miles. From the whispering prairies, across the Great Divide to the crystal capped Rockies and on to the emerald promise of the Pacific Northwest, her story over flows with emotion and action ripped from the bursting fabric of a raw new land.

Ten years in the writing, SACAJAWEA unfolds an immense canvas of people and events, and captures the eternal longings of a woman who always yearned for one great passion -- and always it lay beyond the next mountain.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Chapter One

Old Grandmother

The history of the Shoshoni, most northerly of the great Shoshonean tribes, which all belong to the extensive Uto-Aztecan linguistic stock, is full of paradox. They occupied western Wyoming, central and southern Idaho, southwestern Montana, northeastern Nevada, and northeastern Utah. The Snake River country in Idaho was their stronghold, but their expeditions sometimes reached the Columbia. Holding somewhat in contempt their less vigorous cousins to the south — Ute, Hopi, and Paiute they themselves seem to have been almost equally despised by the Plains tribes. The northern and eastern Shoshoni were riding and buffalo-hunting Indians. Their traditions are full of references to a period when they had no horses, when small game took the place of the buffalo, and when they had no skin tepees in which to live. None of the Shoshoni were ever known to be agriculturists, but in- the Wind River of central Wyoming, huge pestles have been discovered, about five feet in length, consisting of a ball eight or nine inches in diameter and a stem tapering to about four inches. They were found by Shoshoni Indians who suggest they were used for grinding grain, grass seeds, and dry berries, by some early tribe.

Wyoming, A Guide to Its History, Highways and People, compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the WPA in the State of Wyoming. New York: Oxford University Press, 1941, pp. 52-7.

It was early morning in the Agaiduka, the Salmon Eaters encampment, and struggling puffs of cookingfire smoke reached into the chilly dawn air. Everywhere in this Shoshoni camp there was the pungent smell of burning pine.Moving silently, robe-covered women fed each fire and cooked the first meal of the day. Inside the tepees children came half-awake; small babies felt hunger pangs and began their crying.

Near the center of the encampment was the tepee of the head chief, Chief No Retreat. This morning he rose from his pine-bough sleeping couch early, disturbed by thoughts in his mind of things he did not understand. Ages ago, beyond the time of counting, there had been a tribe living here, in the Big Horn Mountains, different from the people he knew.

The day before, Chief No Retreat and his younger daughter, Boinaiv, Grass Child, had wandered onto a great circle of stones. To him it seemed larger than the circle of the sun. He had seen the similar but smaller circle of stones to the north, but never had he dreamed there was another and of such imposing size. He was certain it had been built before the light came to the Agaiduka Shoshonis, his people.

The old man had looked at the great circle then in awe and spoken to his child about the Tukadukas, the Sheep Eaters, who had built stone game blinds and bighorn sheep pens with stone fences. He had seen them often. "The Sheep Eaters were once many tribes and lived in eaves and mountain canyons to avoid their enemies. They had dogs to help them hunt. Now they are gone. Their time is over.",

"Were they happy?" asked Grass Child.

"Ai, they felt as we, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, and sometimes happy. They lived. Now we live."

"Did they paint the buffalo in the caves?"

"Ai, they painted the animals they were going to hunt. This is the way they breathed life into herds so that there was always food for their people. They drew the buffalo as if he were alive. In their firelight his eyes glistened, his muscles seemed to tense beneath the hide, and his tail to lash to and fro in excitement — like the beasts grazing on the grassy hillsides."

"Did they color him with the same paints we use to paint bodies before the hunt?" asked the curious child.

"Ai, the same. They took the best ocher and bear's fat and mixed it carefully and put it on the picture with charcoal or tiny sticks dipped in the paints. They usedthe black earth for contours and shadows to give the beast depth or life. They used vermilion to fill in the glowing eyes."

"I would like to do that," exclaimed the child.

"Women are never painters of stones. They paint only clothing and their faces," laughed her father.

"I could do that, though. Did the people of the suncircle paint?"

Chief No Retreat was deep with his own wondering.

Were the people who built the smaller circle in the north and then this larger one of the same nation? He wondered how long ago these people had gone away from here. Who were their enemies?

As he gazed at the large circle of stones, Grass Child pointed to the center cairn, about as high as the chief's waist. "What is there?"

"You ask more than a girl — child should he admonished his inquisitive offspring. "Women need know only

cooking, sewing, and keeping a neat tepee and a contented man."

"Maybe it is Father Sun," she said. "In the middle is the sun, and on the outside are the stars, and this one way over here, the moon." She laughed at her analogy. Then she counted the "spokes" radiating from the "hub." "Five hands and three fingers," she said.

The chief counted, then said, "That is the number of suns from one full moon to the next."

Grass Child began to examine the six low shelters, peering under the slab roofs.

"Grass Child! Keep your head out of there!" The chief quickly stood the child on her feet. "See, that flat stone is tipping. The pine logs are old and rotting. They no longer can hold it up. The spirits of this nation may be near. Do not disturb their sacred place. Now, watch where you step! Do not step on the stones."

On the stone slab of the center structure rested a...

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Sacajawea 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
BanbaOir More than 1 year ago
I bought this book when it came out back in 1984 I beleive. I was a bit hesitant at first, not only because of its size, nearly 1500 pages, but the typeset was soooooo tiny,...but I never in my life read a book so rapidly and so completely obsessed. I have read and re-read my copies so much they are falling apart, and am ordering yet again to just have a copy that is intact. If ever this had come out in Hardcover, it would have been well worth the investment.
trippnmama More than 1 year ago
Don't let the length of this book scare you off. It is wonderfully written and a very fast read. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. History in novel form is a fantastic way to learn something without being dry. The character development, the style of writing is wonderful. The true journal entries at the the beginning of each chapter hook you into reading all night long. Don't miss this one. I read this back in the 70's and have now read it again 30 years later. This is on my top 5 of all time.
KarenVO More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I read it many years ago and could never find my hard copy, so I got it for my Nook. That too is a delightful way to read a book! It is hard to comprehend that Sacajawea was only about 14 or 15 years old when she made this trek to the Pacific Ocean. The story moves well and I stayed very interested.
harmonytx444 More than 1 year ago
Like some of the others who reviewed this book, I was a bit hesitant when I first decided to read it because of how long it is....but I'm so glad I did not let that stop me. I only wish we could really know for sure how her life ended because of the historical uncertainty that has never been absolutely determined....but I prefer to chose the version where she lived to be a wise old woman with loving family around her in her final days... This is one of the finest novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. By all means, buy it and take the time to read it, I feel very certain you will be glad you did....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I became interested in learning more about Sacajawea after seeing the movie Night at the Museum. It is evident that much research and leg work went into the writing of this novel....so much history! Like other reviewers, I too was intimidated by the length of this book at first but the writer keeps you captivated all the way through. All young Americans, especially girls should know the story of Sacajawea and how important she was to the expansion of this country. I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the Book!!! It was a great story and captivated me the whole time I read it Don't let size discourage you!!! All the time I spent reading it was worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will change your life. I love to read and no other book I have ever read has compared to this one. I first read this book in 1989 and have read it at least 4 times since then and I just ordered a new one because the old one was falling a part. Sacajawea is my hero and an American Hero. She does not get the credit she deserves. I guarantee you will not be able to put this book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am 13 and it took me 4 days to read this book. I loved it, and i reccomend it to everyone!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this book safe for children to read?Please answer honestly!
M-M_Joy More than 1 year ago
I was so excited to see this book available in e-book form. I have the original paperback. It's too fat to hold open so I have never been able to read past the first couple hundred pages. A fascinating book that I can now read comfortably.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i also i have read through this book about 4 or 5 times, and i am going to order a new one because mine is falling apart also.. i can't stop reading it. a very inspiring book. i'd love to see a new movie based on her life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! It has given me a whole new perspective and respect for all those Americans-native and *****wise-who explored, charted and settled this beautiful land of ours. Yeah, sounds corny? But thats the kind of awe and respect this book actually inspires.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first, I was a little indimidated by the size of the book, but once I started it, I got into it so much, I had little else to think about.. I read it at school, read it while the tv was on.. I read it all the time. If you want to read it, I'm warning you, you'll get hooked.
Guest More than 1 year ago
...you will get so wrapped up in this book, you'll wish it were longer. I read this one years ago and became completely engrossed in anything to do with Native Americans. I am so happy to see that this one is still in print. Too many great historical fiction novels I read years ago are out of print. I'd love to have this one in hardcover, but it would probably weigh 20 lbs! BUY IT! READ IT! Be amazed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book so much, although it took me a little longer to read it, It was always very hard to put down. I also found strengths I could relate to and enjoyed reading about the voyage of the Lewis and Clark expedition, because it hit so close to home (literally). I highly recommend this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was outstanding!! Even though the length is usually a turn off to a student who needs to spend ample time studying, not reading non-required books ;), I loved this book so much I could not put it down! I would reccomend this book to anyone; everyone can relate to the heroine in some aspect throughout the course of this book. I also like the way the author referred at the beginning of each chapter to the historical references, and I enjoyed her version of the ending of Sacajaweas life, where she used what information she had, and her imagination. An excellent, excellent book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read many books in my 54 years, and I can say this is the very best one I've ever read. I have read it over and over again. I'll say maybe 6 or 7 times. Everytime I do read it, I find something I missed the previous times. I Recommend it highly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is such a great read its so easy to get lost into it and to lose yourself into the book. I don't think anyone else can do a better job of writing wbout this wounderful historic lady.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
C-Hope More than 1 year ago
The story of Sacajawea is historically documented throughout, yet written as a novel that has kept me up several nights! It is longer than I had expected but when we come to the end I will be disappointed to leave this very interesting lady behind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GrammaAncy More than 1 year ago
This book is so hard to put down. Totally interesting thruout. Wonderful story of the hardships of being a  female Indian.  Without Sacajewa being included in the expedition with Lewis & Clark, many if not all of the  people would have died. Very educational, with all the descriptions of the various tribes and cultures.  A must  read for anyone interested in American history.