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The Making of Sacagawea: A Euro-American Legend
     

The Making of Sacagawea: A Euro-American Legend

by Donna J. Kessler
 

Kessler supplies both the biography of a legend and an explanation of why that legend has endured.
 

Sacagawea is one of the most renowned figures of the American West. A member of the Shoshone tribe, she was captured by the Hidatsas as a child and eventually became one of the wives of a French fur trader, Toussaint Charbonneau. In 1805 Charbonneau

Overview

Kessler supplies both the biography of a legend and an explanation of why that legend has endured.
 

Sacagawea is one of the most renowned figures of the American West. A member of the Shoshone tribe, she was captured by the Hidatsas as a child and eventually became one of the wives of a French fur trader, Toussaint Charbonneau. In 1805 Charbonneau joined Lewis and Clark as the expedition's interpreter. Sacagawea was the only woman to participate in this important mission, and some claim that she served as a guide when the expedition reached the upper Missouri River and the mounTa&iactue;nous region.

Although much has been written about the historical importance of Sacagawea in connection with the expedition, no one has explored why her story has endured so successfully in Euro-American culture. In an examination of representative texts (including histories, works of fiction, plays, films, and the visual arts) from 1805 to the present, Kessler charts the evolution and transformation of the legend over two centuries and demonstrates that Sacagawea has persisted as a Euro-American legend because her story exemplified critical elements of America's foundation myths-especially the concept of manifest destiny. Kessler also shows how the Sacagawea legend was flexible within its mythic framework and was used to address cultural issues specific to different time periods, including suffrage for women, taboos against miscegenation, and modern feminism.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Kessler (humanities, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical U.) examines representative texts, including histories, fiction, films, and the visual arts from 1805 to the present, to chart the evolution of the legend of Sacagawea, demonstrating that the legend has persisted because her story exemplifies critical elements of America's foundation myths. She shows how the legend has been used to address cultural issues specific to different time periods, such as women's suffrage, miscegenation, and feminism. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

"Unquestionably, Kessler raises important questions about the relationship of Euro-American ideology to Euro-American perceptions of marginalized people. In particular, this book provides an excellent starting point for historians who plan to explore cultural representations of Native Americans. Kessler illustrates especially well the intersection of concerns about race/ethnicity and gender in her analysis of the double otherness of native women. Most important, Kessler offers a much-needed challenge when she asks us to reinvent ourselves as a nation by rewriting our mythic narratives."
Florida Historical Quarterly

"Readers will find original perspectives and persuasive argumentation in Kessler's explanation of how the Sacagawea legend has been used by different generations to address such cultural concerns as miscegenation, women's suffrage, and modern feminism."
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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780817307776
Publisher:
University of Alabama Press
Publication date:
02/28/1996
Pages:
258
Product dimensions:
5.72(w) x 8.49(h) x 0.93(d)
Lexile:
1380L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Donna J. Kessler is Professor of Humanities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

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