When Sacagawea’s son asks her about her life, she isn’t sure where to begin. Does she start with her birth as a Shoshoni? Her kidnapping by an enemy tribe at age eleven? Or her role as the famous guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition? She’s seen and experienced more in her young life than most people ever will.
Told from Sacagawea’s point of view, this historical novel shares the ordeals of her youth along with the memory of her long, arduous journey west with Lewis and Clark. She shares her love of nature and explains how her loyalties have changed over time.
This story of Sacagawea goes beyond the legend to reveal the flesh-and-blood woman who she really was.
|Publisher:||Open Road Media|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
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Girl of the Shining Mountains
By Peter Roop, Connie Roop
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1999 Peter and Connie Roop
All rights reserved.
"Mama, tell me about your journey to the great salt lake, the Pacific Ocean."
"Pomp, your father can tell the story to you."
Charbonneau grunted. "No, my wife. You must tell the story. I am a trader, not a teller of tales. In any case, I do not need to hear it. I was there myself. I know all that happened." Charbonneau crossed to the bow of the flatboat and lit his pipe.
"Mama. Please," Pomp begged. "I wish to hear your story before we reach Saint Louis." He pronounced it "San Louiee" like his French father did.
A flock of geese winged its way south before his mother answered.
"I will tell my story so when you are with Captain Clark you will not pester him with too many questions. He will think you are a mosquito buzzing in his ear."
She sighed. Where did the story truly begin? she wondered. When she was born Shoshoni, one of The People, in the Shining Mountains? Or when she was captured by her tribe's enemies, the Hidatsa? Or when her husband, Charbonneau, won her as a gambling prize?
Did the story begin when Pomp was born one bitterly cold night in Isha-Mea'a, the Coyote Moon? Or when she first met Captain Lewis and Captain Clark in their winter fort along the banks of the Missouri? Did it begin when she and Charbonneau joined the captains on their journey to the western sea?
So many beginnings.
Where will my story end? she wondered.
She pulled her buffalo robe around her shoulders and began.CHAPTER 2
Long ago, before you were born, I lived with my family far to the west, toward the home of the setting sun. Your grandfather, my father, Strong Arm, was chief of our band of The People, the Shoshoni. He led us from our summer lodges to our winter home in the meadows of the Shining Mountains. He guided our men on buffalo hunts. He taught my brother, Cameahwait, to train wild horses. He showed him how to fish with a bone hook and to hunt with bow and arrows. He instructed him on the ways a warrior leads his people in peace and in war.
My mother, Bright Morning, was your grandmother. She taught me and my sisters, Quaking Leaf and Tall Grass, how to dig for roots and gather seeds and nuts. She showed us which berries were poisonous and which filled your belly. Her skilled fingers danced as they wove grass baskets and sewed buffalo skins for clothes and lodges. She taught us how to trap rabbits and make their furs into cloaks. From her, we learned to tan skins and chew them to make them as soft as goose down. Over her fire we dried meat and made stews. All these things a Shoshoni woman must know.
The winter of my eleventh circle of seasons was long. Our bellies ached from emptiness. The men hunted deer, elk, and buffalo. They killed few. Some of the very old and very young died before the buds opened on the trees.
When at last the warm winds of Baduaa-Mea'a, the Melting Moon, drove the ice from the rivers and the snow from the earth, The People were pleased. We raided the underground nests of mice for wild artichokes and nuts. We plucked green grass shoots and dug yampas roots to flavor the stews of elk meat Strong Arm and Cameahwait brought to our lodge.
As Bu'Hisea-Mea'a, the Budding Moon, grew round, we packed our lodges and moved down from our winter meadow to where the three rivers meet and become one. Look about you, son, for those three rivers join to make the beginnings of the Missouri, although I did not know that at the time. And just as the geese, ducks, and cranes return each spring from their winter homes, so do the buffalo. It was then we moved down from the mountains to meet them.
Our men prepared their horses and weapons for the spring buffalo hunt. The night before the hunt we danced and called to the buffalo. Our medicine man prayed to the Great Spirit for a good hunt. I gossiped with my friend Antelope, teasing her about a boy she liked. She teased me, too, about White Bear, who I was to marry. My father had gifted ten fine horses to White Bear's father for the honor.
"But you married Papa instead," Pomp interrupted.
"Yes, I did," she replied. Although I had no choice either time, she thought.
As the fire flickered in our lodge, Strong Arm taught Cameahwait the words to offer to the buffalo's spirit as he took its life. This was Cameahwait's first buffalo hunt with the men. He was so proud, your uncle. That night he slept with his best spear by his side. My sisters and I could hardly wait for him to make his first kill so we could fashion new moccasins for him from the skin. I had saved porcupine quills and dyed them yellow and red, his favorite colors, for this occasion.
An owl called, "WHOOOO WHOOOO," as I fell asleep.
Our hunters left at dawn, galloping to the east. Cameahwait rode tall beside our father. I remember thinking he will be a good chief someday, just like Strong Arm. The old men, women, and children stayed behind.
I went with Mama and my sisters, Quaking Leaf and Tall Grass, to collect yampas, the wild carrots you love so much. Antelope and her mother and aunts joined us. I remember the sun warm on my back and the jays chasing one another. Redheaded tanagers flitted through the trees, searching for insects. Squirrels scolded us.
Antelope and I, following a swarm of bees, wandered from the group. The bees led us to their honey tree, and we climbed to their hole to see how large the comb was.
High in the tree we looked at the world spreading below us. The three rivers wound together like braids. The towering mountains held us as if in a cup as round as one of Bright Morning's grass baskets.
Antelope saw the hunters' dust first.
"Look," she cried. "The men return. I hope our fathers killed many buffalo."
"I hope Cameahwait made his kill, too," I said.
As they got closer the galloping horses puzzled me. Through the dust and distance, they did not appear to be our spotted-rump horses.
I grabbed Antelope's arm. "Those are not our hunters. They are warriors of another tribe."
"... Aiieee ..." she yelled, and climbed down. She bounded like the antelope for which she is named to warn The People. I followed, reaching our families just as the war party burst through the trees.
From their clothes and weapons I knew them to be our hated enemies, the Hidatsa.
We scattered like seeds from a pod, just as we had been taught. This way we would be harder to capture. Or kill.
"... Mama!..." I cried as a warrior galloped behind her. He swung his club. I willed my eyes to close. But I could not stop my ears from hearing a sound like a pumpkin being smashed.
I wanted to run to her, but the warrior turned his black gaze upon me. My heart aching, I plunged into the bushes, trying to escape. I ran like a rabbit fleeing a swooping hawk. Shouts and screams trailed me.
Someone crashed through the brush near me. I stole a glance. Antelope!
Our eyes met, but we said not a word. She waved for me to follow. I dodged in her direction, hoping to outrun my pursuer. Antelope was as fast as her name. If I could keep up with her, I might escape.
An arrow buzzed past my ear like an angry hornet. My lungs burned, but still we ran.
Ahead, water rushed around rocks. Once across the river we would be safe, I hoped. Antelope jumped from rock to rock like a fish leaping from the water. I was a few steps behind when I slipped and crashed into the water. My hair was yanked and I was pulled up. A knife flashed before my eyes. I was to be scalped!
All at once a whirlwind burst from the forest. Screaming like a panther, Antelope flew at my attacker. She knocked the knife from his hand and dug her fingers into his eyes. My world went black as my head cracked against a rock.CHAPTER 3
"Are you cold, Mama?" the little boy asked.
"No, but the memory of those days chills me still. Yet it does my heart good to share my story with you. Talking about your grandparents makes their memories bring warmth to my heart."
When I awoke, I found myself strapped over the back of a horse. My head hurt and my eyes could not see clearly. Slowly my eyes focused. I looked behind to see Antelope tied to a horse, too. Her eyes blazed with a fire I had never seen before. Even though it hurt, I turned my head to the front. As if my thoughts were his, our captor looked at us. A grin creased his face and he grunted at me. I shut my eyes, only to hear him laugh.
I struggled to free my hands from the buckskin ropes tying them, but I could not break or loosen them. Each time I looked back at Antelope she still had that same fierce fire burning in her eyes.
All day we bounced on those scrawny Hidatsa horses. Strong Arm would not even give such a poor horse to a child. The People's horses were well fed and strong. My eyes stung when I thought of Strong Arm. Was he alive? Had Cameahwait fallen beneath a Hidatsa club? My tears flowed, for I thought of my beautiful mother lying dead on the cold ground. Never again would she weave grass baskets or tell star stories or cradle me when I was with fever. I prayed to the Great Spirit that some of The People yet lived, so they could bury her body deep away from wolves and bears and properly send her spirit to the next world.
That evening we camped along a stream. My mouth burned. I licked my lips again and again. Finally our captor brought us food and water. He untied my arms. The numbness slowly went away. Then he tied my left arm to Antelope's right arm and he tied our feet so we could not escape. With our free arms we fed each other. Antelope's eyes glowed with hatred.
I looked around. Captured with us were two young girls and a boy. They were Bluestem, Wakes-At-Night, and Trout. Many times in our village I watched them play roll the hoop and chase the squirrel. Now, sobbing for their families, they huddled like frightened baby rabbits. My heart ached to reach out and comfort them, but the Hidatsa kept us apart. I counted the Hidatsa warriors. There were as many as the fingers on two hands. Five children against ten warriors.
We had no hope of escape.
As night fell, I watched the stars glide into the sky. An owl called, "WHOOOO WHOOO." Just the night before I had listened to an owl call as I lay in the tipi of my parents. Was it only the night before that my world had been at peace? That Strong Arm and Bright Morning chuckled over some shared joke? That Cameahwait slept with his spear, and my sisters and I planned our surprise for him?
Our captor tied my arms behind me again and bound me to Antelope.
I had fallen asleep when Antelope jabbed me awake.
"Do you have anything sharp?" she asked. "Like your scraping knife?"
"I left my pouch in our lodge," I whispered.
"I did, too," she answered. "I hoped you had yours."
We sat silently for many moments until only orange coals still burned in the campfire.
"I am going to escape," Antelope hissed.
"How?" I asked.
"I do not know yet. But I will never be a Hidatsa slave." Her harsh voice scraped against my ears. She pulled her arms. I had not known how strong she was. But each time she stretched against the ropes binding her, she hurt me. I bit my tongue so not a sound slipped from my lips.
Finally she gave up and said, "Tomorrow we will escape. Watch me. We must get away soon before we are so far from our lodges that we cannot find our way back."
Her words made sense to me. I told myself I would watch the trees and rocks and rivers and make them mine in my memory so I would never forget them and could use them to guide me home. Sleep came at last.
In the morning my arms ached, so that I could not raise them when our captor released them. My fingers felt as if bitten by the frost. We ate as we did the night before, one arm free, the other tied. Then we were bound to the horses again, this time sitting up.
All morning we rode. Warriors in front and behind. One warrior carried the little boy. The girls rode together. I could not see them, for they were in back, but I could hear their whimpering. I wished to hold them and tell them they would be fine. I would protect them like their mothers did.
Flies swarmed and bit us and we could do nothing but endure. Mosquitoes feasted upon us. I longed for bear grease to smear on my face, legs, and arms to keep them off.
My eyes wandered over the land, etching images into my mind. There was Har-na-Happap, Beaverhead Rock, looming behind us. Here was a tree struck by lightning and split. I longed to dig a patch of yampas we passed. We traveled toward the rising sun and away from the setting sun. Even today I could find my way back home along our trail.
While my eyes filled with sights, my heart overflowed with sorrow. I tried to push thoughts of my family aside, to look for a way to escape.
That night the warriors fed us and tied us. Before I could be bound again to Antelope, I wiggled to the young children. My captor grunted and moved to break us apart. Another warrior said something to him and he let me stay. The girls and boy snuggled next to me. Like puppies we huddled together all night. My eyes met Antelope's across the fire. Her mouth smiled, but her eyes still flared.
When jays squawked at daybreak, my litter was with me. I looked for Antelope.
She was gone!CHAPTER 4
When the Hidatsa realized Antelope had escaped they began to search. Three went on foot and the rest on horseback.
Only one remained behind to guard us. He checked our bindings to make certain they were secure as he prepared our breakfast.
I hoped Antelope stayed free. Who knew what the warriors would do if they recaptured her? I shivered as I remembered my mother's death.
The little boy, Trout, looked up at me with his large eyes.
"Are you cold?" he asked.
"No," I told him. "I only hope Antelope gets back to The People."
Bluestem, the older girl said, "Wakes-At-Night complains her stomach hurts where a warrior hit her."
My mind flashed to my sisters, Quaking Leaf and Tall Grass. What had become of them? Would I ever know if they had lived or died? Certainly, they were not captives. Did they wonder and worry about me? I hugged Wakes-At-Night closer.
My thoughts ended with the return of the warriors. They said little, none of which I could understand. I did not speak the Hidatsa tongue at that time. But my heart soared. Antelope was not with them! Nor did her scalp hang from any belt. I asked the Great Spirit to guide her feet home to The People.
Would I ever see her again? I asked myself.
The days passed like the endless wind dancing across the plains. We rode. We walked. We ate. We slept. We rode. We followed a winding river. We galloped on a buffalo trail through a mountain gap. As a little girl your age I had crossed here with my family on a buffalo hunt. This trail led to the River of Yellow Stones. I tried to remember landmarks we passed. But each day it grew more difficult. I was tired. My legs and feet hurt. At a shallow place we forded the river. We were not bound any longer, but the warriors still kept a wary eye on me.
Wakes-At-Night worried me more than Trout and Bluestem. She would not talk, and we were thirteen suns from home. At night, while the others slept the sleep of the exhausted, she twitched like a dog with bad dreams. I held her close each night, and her movements awakened me often. I did not mind. The children were my family now. I was mother to them, tending their hurts, encouraging their hearts. I only wished someone could mother me, too.
Our long journey ended when we reached the Hidatsa village. The night before we arrived, the warriors chattered among themselves, smiling as they brushed their horses and cleaned their clothes.
Through hand signs my captor told me to wash the children and myself. He gave me a needle and thread to mend our torn clothes. I held the needle to the fire. It glittered like a silver ripple on water. Where did he get such a wonderful needle? It was steel, shaped like The People's bone needles but ever so much sharper and stronger. Now I know white traders like your father brought them.
Inside I smiled as I thought how much Bright Morning would have enjoyed using such a needle. My wounded heart ached for my mother, father, brother, and sisters. Yet with each passing day I felt a little more warmth return to my spirit. The three children of my new family helped.
That night I could have stolen away. The Hidatsa rarely watched us. What held me back? I thought I might be able to find my way home. I would not starve, for I knew where to dig for roots and how to snare rabbits. Bluestem, Trout, and Wakes-At-Night kept my feet from fleeing. Without me, what would happen to them?
Excerpted from Sacagawea by Peter Roop, Connie Roop. Copyright © 1999 Peter and Connie Roop. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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