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Sacajawea: The Story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Sacajawea: The Story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition

3.9 15
by Joseph Bruchac

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Captured by her enemies, married to a foreigner, and a mother at age sixteen, Sacajawea lived a life of turmoil and change. Then in 1804, the mysterious young Shoshone woman known as Bird Woman met Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Acting as interpreter, peacemaker, and guide, Sacajawea bravely embarked on an epic journey that altered history forever. Hear her


Captured by her enemies, married to a foreigner, and a mother at age sixteen, Sacajawea lived a life of turmoil and change. Then in 1804, the mysterious young Shoshone woman known as Bird Woman met Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Acting as interpreter, peacemaker, and guide, Sacajawea bravely embarked on an epic journey that altered history forever. Hear her extraordinary story, told by Sacajawea and by William Clark, in alternating chapters and including parts of Clark's original diaries. •Authentic telling by an American Book Award winner and winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Writers Circle of The Americas •Includes a black-and-white map showing Lewis and Clark's trail •Told in the compelling voices of Sacajawea and William Clark—in alternating chapters—for two unique viewpoints •Sacajawea will be commemorated in the year 2000 with a U.S. Treasury dollar coin bearing her likeness

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bruchac's (The Arrow Over the Door) intimate novel about Lewis and Clark's epic Western exploration unfolds through the alternating voices of Sacajawea, their Shoshone interpreter, and Clark. Sacajawea's now-grown son, Pomp (Jean Baptiste Charbonneau), introduces the two narrators, explaining that Shoshone custom dictates that "one can tell only what they have seen"; since he was not yet born at the beginning of the adventure, he recounts the tale as it was told to him. Sacajawea's chapter follows, opening with a creation tale of the "great flood"--each of her chapters begins with either Shoshone tales or those of other tribes the crew encounters, and many function as cautionary fables; relevant journal entries introduce Clark's chapters. This framing device results in a few contrived references in the narrative (e.g., "The fur trade, Pomp, can make a brave man rich or cost him his life," says Clark), and the assumption that Pomp already knows the story occasionally diminishes the suspense. But Bruchac builds the alternating chapters chronologically and keeps the pace moving. Both narrators recount intriguing cultural nuances; for example, when a deserter from the expedition is recovered, the Otoes Indians plead the white man's case, arguing that it would be better to kill him than humiliate him with a public whipping. The greatest strength of the novel, however, is Sacajawea's voice, enhanced by the lyrical repetition of traditional storytelling ("It was the Moon when the Leaves Fall from the Cottonwoods," she recalls of the day she first sees Lewis and Clark). The author adheres closely to journals kept by members of the expedition, creating characters who are both lifelike and compelling, at a fascinating juncture in history. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
To quote the review of the hardcover edition in KLIATT May 2000: As the new U.S. dollar featuring Sacajawea is circulating, here is a book to answer YAs' questions about this famous woman. The fact that she took part in this most important expedition when she was a 16-year-old mother with an infant, adds enormously to the story's appeal to today's teenagers. Bruchac, with his own Native American heritage, uses his knowledge of family lore and of traditional Indian stories to confidently tell Sacajawea's story. The format is this: Sacajawea is telling her young son, who was a baby at the time of the journey, about her adventures; in alternate chapters, William Clark also tells the boy about the journey. Bruchac explains in a note that all the events in the narratives appear in the massive journals recorded by Lewis and Clark. The story of the expedition is filled with danger, courage, discovery, suffering, and camaraderie—all the stuff of a great adventure. Sacajawea had been kidnapped as a young girl and taken from her own people, the Shoshone. The expedition made it possible for her to return to her family, and her connection to the Shoshone and to other Native peoples along the way was of vital importance to the travelers. Many of those on the trip were fascinating people, from the gifted but troubled Meriwether Lewis to the young slave, York, to Sacajawea's husband, a French trapper. Reading this could lead YAs on to Ambrose's best-selling account of the expedition and even to the primary sources, the journals of Lewis and Clark. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Scholastic, 199p., $4.99. Ages 13 to18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; KLIATT , November 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 6)
Children's Literature
This masterfully crafted novel recounts the famous journey of Sacajawea, who guided Lewis and Clark westward and back in the first years of the 19th century. The novel is framed as a story told to Sacajawea's son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau—nicknamed Pomp—who was too young to remember the adventure he shared during the first two years of his life. The voices of Sacajawea and William Clark alternate in weaving this tale. Sacajawea's narration flows gracefully, prefaced each time with traditional Native American lore. Her language is lyrical and touching, told from a native's perspective. Clark's contributions to the story begin with actual entries from William Clark's diaries. Bruchac presents all characters—from expedition members to the people of the many Native American nations they encounter—with respect and insight. Because the book offers two viewpoints, the reader gains a three-dimensional understanding of the expedition. In an extensive author's note at the end of the novel, Bruchac fills in the rest of the picture—the fate of many of the expedition members and the pains he took to remain true to actual events. This novel is equally entertaining as an adventure and a history lesson about one of the most important moments in American history. 2000, Signature/Scholastic, $4.99. Ages 12 up. Reviewer:Kimberly Norman
VOYA - Voya Reviews
Bruchac, prolific Native American storyteller, poet, and writer, deftly captures the spirit of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, alternating his narrative between the viewpoint of Sacajawea and William Clark, who helped raise her son, Pomp, to whom this story is told. In chapters prefaced with Native American folklore excerpts, Sacajawea begins her tale in the time before she meets Lewis and Clark. Captured by the Minnetarees and later married to the fur trader Charbonneau, Sacajawea was sixteen and a wife and mother when she and her husband began the arduous journey with the explorers. Her presence and that of her infant son often provided them access to the Native American villages they encountered on the way. Excerpts from the journals of Lewis and Clark preface chapters narrated from Clark's viewpoint. From the white man's perspective, Clark tells Pomp of the Native Americans they met, both friendly and unfriendly. As Lewis and Clark explored the western part of the continent, they also attempted to bring peace to the warring Native American nations. The alternating points of view allow the young adult reader to experience vicariously an event and time period in United States history through both female and male eyes. Clark describes the process well when he says to Pomp, "Your mother has a way of cracking the shell when she tells the story and then leaving it to me to pry out the meat of the nut." Bruchac states that he attempted to be true to the journals whenever referring to events, even through dialogue. Bruchac's well-researched retelling of Sacajawea's role in the expedition is a wonderful novel to add to any library collection and to share with history teachers. Biblio. VOYACODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Harcourt, Ages 12 to 18, 200p, $17. Reviewer: Ruth E. Cox
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Joseph Bruchac's fascinating story (Harcourt, 2000) of the life of the woman who was pivotal to the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition is an outstanding example of historical fiction told from mutliple perspectives. The alternating voices of Sacajawea and Captain William Clark (Nicolle Littrell and Michal Rafkin), as well as excerpts from Clark's journals, illustrate the tremendous hardships faced by the Corps of Discovery along with the exhiliration of exploring new territory and encountering other cultures. In its well-crafted written format, readers can easily follow the narrative flow. The recorded version suffers from several defects that detract significantly from the pleasure of listening to it. The most noticeable is that Littrell's cadences and voice inflection have a distinctly sing-song quality that, while meant to convey the fact that English was a second language for Sacajawea, merely becomes annoying to the ear because they are so pronounced. In addition, the Native American stories (often featuring Coyote, the Trickster) at the beginning of many of the book's chapters are difficult to distinguish from the main text.-Cindy Lombardo, Orrville Public Library, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kathleen Odean
This fine historical novel alternates between the voices of Sacajawea, the young Shoshone woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark expedition, and William Clark, one of the expedition leaders. The journey from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean and back, full of hardships and close calls, makes exciting reading. Sacajawea's intelligence and strength come across, especially in Clark's entries, which also set the story in a historical context. Folk tales and excerpts from the expedition journals open each chapter, and a map shows the route. Children who have seen Sacajawea's face on the new dollar coin will enjoy learning more about her and her role in history.
Kirkus Reviews
The Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the northwest part of the American continent probably would not have ever been completed without the help of the young Shoshone woman Sacajawea. She and her sister, Otter Woman, were kidnapped from their tribe and kept captive by the Minetarees, a tribe that had been influenced in language and customs by its years of contact with French and English traders. Sacajawea picked up the ability to speak the whites' languages—a skill that stood her in good stead five years later when a French trader, Toussaint Charbonneau, won her and Otter Woman from their Minetaree captor. Charbonneau married the young Sacajawea, and they had a son. Soon after, Charbonneau was hired by Lewis and Clark to accompany their expedition in its next phase along the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean—and Charbonneau was invited to bring his family along. This was wonderful news to Sacajawea, whose great dream was to be united once again with her Shoshone family. Much has been written about Sacajawea's role in the expedition, how she and her child disarmed even the most hostile Indians and how her skill in languages, along with her ability to find food, kept them all going through the severe rigors of the long trip. The story in this book is told in alternative voices by Sacajawea and William Clark, the co-leader of the expedition, giving an added dimension to the tale and helping to clarify much of what happened along the way. Couched in Bruchac's elegant prose, this epic tale of courage and endurance is both a grand adventure story and an inspiration that is not to be missed. (Fiction. 12-14)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

I grew up in the small town of Greenfield Center, New York, which is in the foothills of the Adirondacks not far from the city of Saratoga Springs. It is a place I love, close to the forests and the mountains.

I was raised by my grandparents, who had a little general store. My grandmother, Marion Dunham Bowman, was a graduate ofAlbany Law School. Although she never did practice law, she kept the house filled with books. It's because of her that I wasalways reading.

My grandfather, Jesse Bowman, was of Abenaki Indian descent. He could barely read and write, but I remember him as oneof the kindest people I ever knew. I followed him everywhere. He showed me how to walk quietly in the woods and how tofish. He told me that his father never spanked him, but would only talk to him when he misbehaved. He raised me in the sameway.

I loved my grandparents' little general store. I helped out as much as I could, ringing up purchases on the cash register andwashing customers' cars and windows. In the fall and winter, I would sit around the wood stove and listen to the local farmersand lumberjacks tell tall tales. One of those men was Lawrence Older. When I grew up, he taught me the songs and stories heknew about the Adirondacks.

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Sacajawea 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sacajawea was a very interesting story about her life including her adventures and crises. At the age of eleven, Sacajawea was taken captive from her village of the Shoshones along with a friend. By the age of sixteen, she was married and had a son. She and her husband went on the Lewis and Clark expedition on which they helped along the way. Her husband was an interpreter and she was there to help get horses but she also helped take care of people, gather food and keep watch. She proved to be quite helpful and helped make the journey a success. This book tells of her life and her journey with Lewis and Clark. I liked how the point of view changed from chapter to chapter, however, I didn't like the fact that it was overly descriptive. It took a lot of reading and not many events. Overall, I did like this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought this was a good story. Very well explained.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dissliked this book so much, I could not finish such a boring story! It is written for 12+ school age kids!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book. Well written. Well researched. Captivating story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dumb book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was interesting i had to read it for school and got kindof bored.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The story Sacajawea is a good book to read. It is about a Native American girl that is captured by American soldiers, and was taken from her Shoshone people, and was asked to go on an expedition with the Americans to show how to get through the journey, to the Pacific Ocean as a translator, care taker, and guide. One reason I like the book, is that it is interesting to read. The author doesn¿t use big words, so every young reader can get into the story. Another reason why I like the book, is that you cannot tell what is going to happen in the story and it keeps you in suspense. One reason I don¿t like the book is that for the first part of the book you can¿t understand it, but when you hit the second chapter you start to understand it a little better. In conclusion I think this book is good overall. And I would suggest this book to young readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sacajawea is a great book for anyone. when i read it it was wonderful. i never wanted to put it down!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
At age sixteen, Sacajawea is married, a mother, and has been taken from her Shoshone people. She has been asked to join Lewis and Clark in thier expedition to explore the land from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean. As a translator, peacemaker, caretaker, and guide, young Sacajawea alone will make the historic journey of Lewis and Clark possible. This captivating novel, which is told in alternating points of view-bye Sacajawea herself and by William Clark-is a unipue blend of history and humanity. It provides an intimate glimpse into what it would have been like to witness firsthand this fascinating time in our history. This is Sacajawea's legendary journey...
Julie Sirhall More than 1 year ago