Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On the SculptureTrail: Sacajawea

A short uphill walk in the Lewis & Clark Native Plant Garden of the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise, Idaho, takes you to a sculpture of the Native American woman Sacajawea, surrounded by plants of the American Northwest. Sacajawea's role in the Lewis & Clark expedition is explained on an interpretive board next to the sculpture:
Lewis and Clark met Sacajawea and her French Husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, at Fort Mandan when she was about sixteen years old. An Agaidika (Shoshone of the Lemhi Band or “salmon-eater”), she had been captured by Hidatsa several years before near present-day Three Forks, Montana. On February 11, 1805, she gave birth to her son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Sacajawea left with her family on the expedition on April 7 as an “interpretess” for her people. The Shoshone owned the horses the expedition needed to cross the mountains between the end of the Missouri River and the Pacific Ocean. Sacajawea translated for the expedition not only to acquire horses from her own tribe, but also at the Flathead, Nez Perce, and Walla Walla villages.

Whether you walk back the way you came or take the “wilderness trail” down to the garden of “fire-resistant” plants, you may want to spend some time reflecting on all the plants (about 200), described by the Lewis & Clark expedition and new to western science, but well known and used by Native Americans long before.

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