The Life of Sacagawea

The Life of Sacagawea
Statue photo courtesy of the artist, Agnes Vincen Talbot.

Meet Randy'L Teton, the model for the coin.
Meet the model for the coin.

Our parents and grandparents learned all about her. Our children know about her, too, as today her story is taught in classrooms across our nation.

Sacagawea was the Shoshone Indian who assisted the historic Lewis and Clark expedition. Between 1804-1806, while still a teenager, she guided the adventurers from the Northern Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean and back. Her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, and their son who was born during the trip, Jean Baptiste, also accompanied the group.

Without Sacagawea's navigational, diplomatic, and translating skills, the famous Lewis and Clark expedition would have perished. For one, she helped Lewis and Clark obtain the horses they needed to continue their journey.

Now, almost 200 years later, the resourceful Native American steps back into the limelight. Sacagawea replaces suffragette Susan B. Anthony as the image on the dollar coin. Soon everyone who handles the Golden Dollar will remember the brave 15-year-old who, carrying her child on her back, guided an unprecedented mission.

What did Sacagawea look like?

More statues, streams, lakes, landmarks, parks, songs, ballads, and poems honor this young woman than any other woman in American history. Yet, no portraits created during her lifetime exist. Even Lewis and Clark's journals don't include sketches or other clues as to what she really looked like.

This appealed to the Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee (DCDAC) torn between recommending a real person or an allegorical image for the new coin. Because no factual representations of Sacagawea exist, her image has been left largely to imagination, much like an allegorical figure.

Read more about her life and remarkable contributions to the Lewis and Clark expedition, the debate over the spelling and pronunciation of her name, or the model who inspired the image on the new Golden Dollar. 

For more information about Sacagawea, follow these related links:

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