Sacagawea is a Caliber 47LRC (which stands for Long Range Cruiser), built in 1995 in Clearwater, Florida. Despite her Model name, she is almost 49 feet from bow to stern (Length On Deck, or LOD), and 53 feet LOA (Length Over All) including her bowsprit. The bowsprit sticks out off the bow of the boat and is where the main anchor lives and the Spinnaker sail attaches. It’s also a fun place to sit, four feet out ahead of the boat as she plunges though the water, and the BEST place to be when dolphins are riding the bow wake!
Our waterline length is about 40 feet, which means we have a hull speed of 8.5 knots (about 10 miles per hour). Our type of sailboat (like most) is a displacement hull, which means it displaces its weight in water, versus a planing hull boat, like a speedboat, that uses thrust to get up on top of the water to go fast. We think it’s the most fun and excitement you can have at 10 mph!! At only 13.5 feet wide at the beam (widest part of the boat), we are little narrower than similar length boats so we might be a little faster through the water, but probably not much. We can go faster than hull speed, but only by either pushing the engine really hard, or surfing down really big waves. We don’t ever want to be in waves that big if we can avoid it.
She is a bit of an older boat, in fact she was only the second hull built of this model, and the first two hulls were built as prototypes, so she didn’t have all the bells and whistles which were added on to successive builds. However we have updated and upgraded almost every system in her, adding all the modern equipment and conveniences as well- so she is an older hull with a whole bunch of new equipment, which is great, because the older hulls were built stronger! Back then, they hand-laid mats of fiberglass over an inch thick below the waterline, which is a stronger method than modern blown-in fiberglass pieces, and thicker too. So through a lot of work with various vendors and a lot of money spent, we now have a very strong, very capable, very modernized vessel.
Let’s take you on a virtual tour! Topside, she has a great cutter-rigged sail plan which includes a brand new Leisure Furl in-boom furling main sail, a furling staysail on a removable Harken Reflex 3 infinite furler (which allows us to hang our big double-hammock on the foredeck!), and a furling genoa headsail. The point of all these furlers is to minimize our need to go forward to handle sails on the deck, being shorthanded as we are, and also to allow us near-infinite sail-plan flexibility to balance the boat in all kinds of winds.
To hold all that sail in the air we have a 62 foot tall aluminum mast with double spreaders and braced with a plethora of standing rigging; dual headstays, dual aft stays, running backstays, and eight more shrouds. That makes for great safety redundancy. The 62 foot height is very important because when we get to the Southeast and East Coast we will make it under almost all the bridges on the Intra-Coastal Waterway (ICW), which means we can travel in calm, protected waters all the way from Texas to Maine if the weather out on the Atlantic isn’t playing nice! Up the mast are the Garmin Fantom 48 radar, hailer/foghorn, foredeck light, and radar reflector. We also added a set of mast steps so Kristin can climb up to the spreaders to feel really tall!
In addition to the three furling sails we have a large spinnaker with a snuffing sock and a brand-new Forespar spinnaker pole mounted to the mast. We inherited the spinnaker, and upon using it for the first time last summer found out it is 100% hot pink! We will not be confused with any other boat!! We would have preferred at least a pattern, however being positive we figure it’s an ode to all the amazing breast cancer work Kristin has done over the years and so it’s appropriate for her to fly. 😊
On deck, resting on the bowsprit we have a great big 85 pound Mantus main anchor hooked to 200 ft of 3/8 inch G4 high-test chain plus another 150 ft of ¾ inch nylon rope rode. We have a couple of other anchors (66# Bruce & Fortress 55) and full-size rodes we could use as backup anchors for different conditions, or kedging off a grounding, or for extra storm anchors, and a smaller aluminum Spade anchor to use as a stern anchor.
Just aft of the bowsprit and chain locker we have two big lazarettes (storage lockers) full of mooring lines, kayak paddles, hammock chairs, bicycle trailer, the Bruce anchor, and other gear. This is also where we have our raw water washdown pump for keeping the mud off the anchor and chain.
Stored along the rails are our; fenders, folding Montague mountain bikes, tandem sit-on-top Ocean kayak, Spade stern anchor, Lifesling, Dan Buoy, fish cleaning table, crab trap, fishing rod holders, propane lockers (for the stove and the grill), new Magma grill, and two reels of line- one of 7/16 inch Amsteel dyneema for use as a shore-tie line (and to back up any rigging problems), the other with 5/8 inch nylon for the stern anchor (along with 20 ft of 5/16 inch BBB chain).
At the aft end of the boat we have two more lazarettes for storage, and a giant stern arch. In the lazarettes are our life raft, spare anchor rodes and anchor, oil and coolant, dinghy fuel, and shore power electrical cords. The arch holds our solar panels (475 Watts with the option to add another 175W panel), GPS and Sirius XM Marine Satellite Weather antennas, a couple of outdoor speakers, several strings of LED lights, our 10 ft Hypalon Highfield dinghy and 20 hp 4-stroke Mercury outboard for the dinghy. It definitely has a planing hull!!
Molded into the stern transom is a nice step down to a small swim platform with a ladder, making both swimming and boarding the dinghy easy. Mounted to the swim platform is our Watt & Sea hydrogenerator (300 Watts), and in the step is a transom shower.
Our cockpit is called a “center cockpit” because it is located more forward, closer to the mast and has a bit of deck aft of it before the transom at the stern. It provides great views of the whole boat while maneuvering, especially for Shorty (Kristin). 😉 The cockpit has a full Sunbrella and Strataglass enclosure, which is wonderful when it is chilly or rainy. We added more windows in the bimini top and the connector to the dodger, and we built a bug net enclosure for it as well. We love to spend time in our “solarium” with great views all around! It even holds our big hammock when it’s not deployed on the foredeck. The cockpit is the control center as well, with all the running rigging lines directed there, four winches (including an electric one) to help us adjust all those lines, the pedestal with the wheel and the compass on the binnacle, our VHF radio, GPS chartplotter, radar, autopilot control, bowthruster control (helps push the bow one way or another and is very helpful with docking), speed, depth, water temp, wind direction and wind speed instruments. Still, our favorite part is the folding teak cocktail table and our adjustable backrest seats perfect for sundowners after a day of sailing! We added LED lights there as well, and joke that after dark we can host our own disco dance party with all the color-changing LED’s and the speakers on the arch. LOL
Belowdecks, roughly 375 sq ft has an entire house worth of stuff crammed into it, including all the tools and spare parts from the garage! There are 16 opening portholes and 4 hatches, all with screens (and shades for the hatches as well), two dorades and a mushroom vent through the deck, and we have 9 small DC electric fans sprinkled around the interior. So there is plenty of light and plenty of air movement even when we aren’t running the air conditioners.
When you come down the companionway from the cockpit you are in the salon (pronounced “saloon”), with a dinette to port (left side, when looking forward toward the bow), and a settee to starboard (right side, when looking forward toward the bow). Directly ahead of you is our salon table, which can fold up against the wall, or just be in front of the dinette, and can fold out to full size to seat dinner guests at the settee as well. The dinette slides out into a full-size berth, and hides supplies underneath we don’t use often. Behind it are galley provisions, our beer and mixers, and above it the stereo system, games, fiction books, and our smart TV monitor- the fun side of the salon! When the salon table folds up against the bulkhead (wall) it hides our liquor cabinet. 😊
The settee is also a single berth when necessary. Below it is our 30 gallon-per-hour watermaker, all of our hand tools, and the Sailrite sewing machine. Behind it lives our emergency equipment like flares, spill kits, and thru-hull plugs, and also our electric tools. Above the settee is our large medical cabinet, electric “toys” like the solar speaker, drone, radios, and GoPro camera, and our reference books.
Just aft of the settee, also on the starboard side is the nav station. It has a few cubbies with small supplies, shore power cord adapters, more lines, batteries, headlamps, binoculars, and our FLIR scope (infrared night vision), along with our weather station, VHF radios, battery monitor system, electrical panels, and our EPIRB (emergency beacon). Two of it’s most important bits however, are the charts and navigation tools, and the Bluetooth radio headsets we call “marriage savers”!
Aft of the nav station on the starboard side are our separate shower stall and head (bathroom), with a nice Dometic Smartflush macerating electric toilet plumbed with fresh water (no smell!). That area is also a walk-through to the aft stateroom, which is our cabin.
We have a Queen-size berth on the centerline of the boat, with good storage for all of our clothes and shoes, some small packs and camelbacks, our tent and thermarest pads for beach or hiking excursions. Under the berth is one of our two Dometic heating and cooling units. At 16,000 BTU’s it does a great job, but needs to be plugged in or have the generator running to do so! Also hidden under the berth is our rudder stock, steering quadrant, and Garmin Reactor 60 autopilot. We just installed new packing in the rudder post stuffing box, new steering cables and pulleys, and a much better pin for the autopilot to attach to, so hopefully we won’t have to open that compartment up for a while…
Moving forward on the port side of the boat from the aft stateroom is the galley- Kristin’s favorite place to be when belowdecks! We have a nice, medium-size front-loading Isotherm fridge, a great custom-built top-loading Sea Frost freezer with 2 stainless steel cold plates and digital controls, a small microwave, and a very nice Force 10 stove and oven on a gimballed mount that allows it to stay level while the boat moves over waves. The oven is very temperature accurate and Kristin loves to use her sourdough starter to bake bread (thanks Sherry, your grape’s yeast lives on!!). The fridge is air-cooled, and the freezer can run with or without the water-cooling system, so we can use them both even when we are out of the water having projects done. The single sink is large, which we really like. The galley manages to hold most of our food supplies and all of our cooking implements and dishes. We even have a Sodastream and an ice cream maker! Counter space is limited, but we manage ok, especially when I vacate and stay out of Kristin’s way.
Between the galley and the aft head, directly underneath our cockpit, is the engine room. It has two large opening doors on the port side, and a couple of small hatch access points on the starboard side, so access is quite good. Mounted inside are the main engine (a 75 hp Yanmar turbo diesel) with a thrust bearing for the prop shaft, the 5.5 KW NextGen generator inside a sound shield (a small Kubota diesel), two starting batteries for those engines, three AGM house batteries (Victron 230AH each), our sea chest where all but one intake thru-hull are located, our 11 gallon Force Ten water heater (which is amazing!), the fresh water pump and distribution manifold, a fuel polishing system which can also be used to transfer fuel from one tank to another, raw water pumps for the freezer, dometics, and watermaker, a bilge pump and the drain pipes from the cockpit scuppers, charge regulators for the solar panels and hydrogenator, a couple of fans to circulate air into and out of the engine room, several water strainers and fuel filters, and about a thousand wires and electrical connections.
Attached to the forward bulkhead of the engine room are the companionway stairs. Hidden under them are the 3000W Magnum charger/inverter, a small heater that operates with the coolant from the engine (like in your car), all the filters for the watermaker, and our little trash and recycle bins.
Moving forward from the companionway through the salon you step into our forward stateroom, which is where our guests stay. It’s really nice (hint, hint!)! The berth along the port side is Full-size, and we only use some of the shelf space above it for our shopping bags and picnic blankets, the rest is for our guests. Underneath are the two AGM batteries and charger for our 24 Volt bowthruster, the second of our two Dometic air conditioner/heaters, all of our foam PFDs and a few extra self-inflating ones, our wetsuits, snorkels and masks, yoga mats, dumbbells, hand and toe warmers, beach towels, and we still have two drawers empty for guests to use! Low on the starboard side is a sail locker for our spinnaker, Fin Delta riding sail, the bug net enclosure for the cockpit, and foul weather boots. Above it is a locker (cabinet) we had made to replace the original vanity, which we use for our foul weather gear and our self-inflating PFDs (Personal Floatation Devices). Hidden behind that is the original locker which we use for office supplies and paperwork, including all the manuals and information for the boat’s systems, laptops, and our little mini printer. Just forward of that locker is our Splendide laundry machine. We installed it where a sofa seat used to be. It washes and dries, and we vent it out the porthole directly above it, right next to our rechargeable Dyson mini vacuum cleaner. Below it lives the laundry detergent, bleach and some paint and varnish. Forward of that is a tall clothes locker with a hanging rod for our guests to use. Above that we store additional linens and towels.
Forward of the guest stateroom is the ensuite head and separate shower. The toilet is a manual flush model, which is great in case there ever was an electrical problem on the boat- we would still have an operational toilet. There is a big cabinet in the forward head which we use for spare parts and filters, and some spare toiletries as well. Under it is our Sidepower SE100 bowthruster, and under the sink are our cleaning supplies.
Under the sole (floor) our boat is different than many others in that there is absolutely no storage. Instead we have massive water and fuel tanks which are fiberglass and integral to the hull. Two 130 gallon water tanks and one 180 gallon fuel tank are under the sole in the salon, and two 47 gallon fuel tanks are located under the aft lazarettes (to either side of the aft berth).
Another thing that is different about our boat is there are only three thru-hulls below the waterline (not counting the 8-inch diameter bowthruster tunnel!). They are; the main sea chest with a roughly 5 inch opening (which feeds all the engines and equipment needs on the entire boat), the transducer at about 1.5 inches in diameter (for speed and depth and water temp info), and a ¾ inch feed for the raw water pump which we added. There are a bunch of drains and a couple of exhaust thru-hulls on the boat, but they are all above the waterline…….except for when we are heeling over while sailing of course! So we do have to close the valves on the thru hulls for the sinks and the laundry machine when underway or the water can definitely make its way up in.
Speaking of under the boat, we wrap up the boat tour with a quick snorkel to see the shoal draft fin keel, which makes up about 13,000 pounds of the boat’s total weight (dry weight is 33,000 pounds, but fully loaded we are probably close to 40,000 pounds), the three-bladed feathering Max prop, and the rudder hung from a full-length skeg.
Climbing out of the water after our brief snorkeling adventure onto the swim step and rinsing off with the transom shower it’s understandable to contemplate the idea of being a space explorer. After all, we were just suspended, weightless, breathing air through a tube and observing a foreign world, and now we are clambering aboard a ship which makes its own electricity and water, controls its interior atmosphere, carries everything needed to live aboard, and can travel vast distances to unknown places. Plus, at night, far from any cities and light pollution, laying on deck contemplating the vastness of space, the Milky Way and constellations are so bright and present that you could really feel that you are floating amongst them.
Spaceship comparisons aside, we think we have a wonderful boat that meets our particular needs and wants. Of course that varies from person to person and there can be no “perfect” boat, so in an effort at full disclosure and objectivity there are a few things we compromised on to get the best boat for us.
One thing is storage. The tradeoff for fantastic tankage is that with the narrower beam, classic narrowing stern, and no bilge storage we are a bit tight on space.
Compounding that a bit is the fact that all of our lazarettes are wet. They literally drain the decks and have scuppers in their bottoms, so it is impossible to keep things dry in them. It is the one thing I really question the McCreary’s thinking on (the designers).
A more minor thing is the headroom in the aft berth. When in the berth it is impossible to sit up straight, and I’m not even that tall at 5’ 11”.
Space for batteries is not large, so our battery bank is a little limited.
Because of the long angle of our bow, the chain locker is not deep and sits largely aft of the windlass, requiring us to pull the chain aft as we haul the anchor.
It would have been great to have a dual-gypsy horizontal windlass so we could truly utilize the dual anchor slides on the bowsprit.
There were other things about our particular boat (it was a prototype of the line, so didn’t have all the things the newer models have) which we were able to address by addition or modification, so we don’t need to count them as compromises. 😊
The features unique to our girl that we felt easily outweighed the above compromises when compared to similar boats we were considering (such as the Tayana 48 and Island Packet 470) are; the build quality of hand-laid fiberglass mats and rovings, the shape of the hull should make its motion at sea more crew-friendly and sail a little faster, the depth of the keel at only 5’3” allows for sailing in the Bahamas and other shallow water destinations, the long fin keel instead of a full keel makes her more maneuverable, the height of the rig being ICW friendly, the great redundancy built into the rig for strength and safety, the cutter rig sail plan with the removable inner forestay, the center cockpit which allows for better sight lines and enables a true 2-stateroom layout, the ensuite heads and separate shower stalls for both staterooms, and the incredible fuel capacity (we can motor for over 1,300 miles!)
Here are a couple of links to check out if you are interested. The Caliber Yachts Webpage. Even though the company has been shuttered since the economic crash of the early 2000’s it is still up and has a lot of information about their sailboats, including the Caliber 47LRC:
The Caliber Owners page, in particular the original owner of our boat who had her sailed to the Pacific Northwest in the first place! We were lucky to find one out here, most are on the East and Gulf coasts. When the Owners Speak page opens, click on “Built Like a Destroyer” to see what the original owner of our boat had to say:
We chose the name Sacagawea for this sailing vessel for multiple reasons;
Boats are generally considered to be feminine, as they carry us safely in their bellies to our destinations, rock us to sleep at night, have beautiful curving lines, and we fall in love with them and work very hard to take care of them (we understand the last two are a bit aged and could be considered sexist, but can also be beautiful when understood as a reciprocal relationship as the boat is trusted to take care of us and keep us safe). As such, we wanted a feminine name. We also wanted a name which could be respected. A fun or funny or clever name seems great for a lake boat (ours was named “Double Trouble”), but a boat that crosses oceans we feel should have a more serious moniker.
We wanted a name which represented us (adventurous, inquisitive explorers), and the fact that there happen to be tie-ins such as her birthplace being near our home town of Missoula, the Lewis and Clark exploration taking place throughout our area, state and the whole northwest (by boat for much of the way), and that salmon used to come all the way upstream from the ocean where we begin our journey to where her tribe caught and ate them, were all wonderful coincidences.
Sacagawea was a strong, fearless, quick-thinking woman who made sure her group never got lost on their journey, who carried a baby safely on her back for the entire exploration of a vast area, and she even helped save her party on more than one occasion during their adventure. Those are all qualities we believe this boat has already, or hope that she will demonstrate over time.
S/V Sacagawea also carries her baby (our dinghy), who was nicknamed “Pomp” by Lewis and Clark, on her back, and her dreamcatcher logo includes a salmon as a nod to her birth tribe in the southwestern Montana/Southern Idaho region. The dolphin in the dreamcatcher is there to represent good luck and good dreams.
As part of a naming or renaming ceremony for a boat the owners are supposed to place a silver dollar or something similar under the mast, to prove to the boat that they are capable and willing to spend the necessary money to keep her in good condition. Kristin just happened to have a Sacagawea dollar coin which we saved and is now resting comfortably under our mast. 🙂
The spelling of Sacagawea with a “g” varies from the spelling taught in U.S. schools and most books (where it is spelled with a “j”), however it is considered to actually be the correct spelling. The spelling with a “g” is how Lewis and Clark spelled her name in their journals, including when they spelled it phonetically. That name means “Bird Woman” in the Hidatsa language.
The spelling with a “j” phonetically pronounced is said to mean “Boat Launcher” in the Shoshone language, though that is not necessarily true, and may have been influenced by her being part of the Lewis and Clark exploration which used boats to navigate the rivers north and west. It likely gained popularity due to the annotator of the Expedition’s journals using a “j” when he spelled her name, which was then also used in subsequent books about the expedition.
Both the “Bird Woman” and “Boat Launcher” connotations work well as a tie-in for a sailboat’s name, but we wanted to be as accurate as possible to honor both her spirit and legacy.
We want to be very clear that our intent is to honor our boat with this amazing woman’s name and honor Sacagawea’s memory in doing so, showing our our appreciation and admiration of such a strong, pioneering woman. We are definitely not just appropriating a cool Native name. Read on for a brief history of her life which we compiled from various sources.
Sacagawea was born into a “Salmon Eater” tribe of Lemhi Shoshone in what is now southwestern Montana/southern Idaho in roughly 1788. In 1800 she and several other girls were kidnapped during a battle with a Hidatsa tribe, who took them and held them captive near what is now Washburn, North Dakota.
About a year later another of the young Shoshone women with her (Otter Woman) was sold into a nonconsensual marriage to Toussaint Charbonneau, a Quebecois trapper living in the village. Charbonneau was reported to have won Sacagawea while gambling, though he may have also purchased her.
Sacagawea was pregnant with her first child when Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery arrived near the Hidatsa villages to spend the winter of 1804–05. Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who had been tasked by President Thomas Jefferson with exploring the newly purchased Louisiana Territory, built Fort Mandan for the Expedition’s winter quarters. They interviewed several trappers who might be able to interpret or guide the expedition up the Missouri River in the springtime. They agreed to hire Charbonneau as an interpreter because they discovered his wife spoke Shoshone, and they knew they would need the help of Shoshone tribes at the headwaters of the Missouri.
Charbonneau and Sacagawea moved into the expedition’s fort a week later. Lewis recorded the birth of her baby, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau on February 11, 1805, noting that another of the party’s interpreters administered crushed rattlesnake rattles to speed the delivery. Clark and other European Americans nicknamed the boy “Little Pomp” or “Pompy.” Sacagawea carried “Pomp” on her back for the entire adventure to come.
In April, the expedition left Fort Mandan and headed up the Missouri River in pirogues. They had to be poled against the current and sometimes pulled from the riverbanks. On May 14, 1805, Sacagawea rescued items that had dumped out of a capsized boat, including the journals and records of Lewis and Clark. The corps commanders, who praised her quick action, named the Sacagawea River in her honor on May 20, 1805. Along the way, the Expedition catalogued all the plant and animal species they found (including grizzly bears!), and mapped the rivers and mountains. By August 1805, the corps had located a Shoshone tribe and was attempting to trade for horses to cross the Rocky Mountains. They used Sacagawea to interpret and discovered that the tribe’s chief, Cameahwait, was her brother.
The Shoshone agreed to barter horses to the group, and to provide guides to lead them over the cold and barren Rocky Mountains. The trip was so hard that they were reduced to eating tallow candles to survive. When they descended into the more temperate regions on the other side, Sacagawea helped to find and cook camas roots to help them regain their strength.
As the expedition approached the mouth of the Columbia River on the Pacific Coast, Sacagawea gave up her beaded belt to enable the captains to trade for a fur robe they wished to give to President Thomas Jefferson.
When the corps reached the Pacific Ocean, all members of the expedition—including Sacagawea and Clark’s black manservant York—voted on November 24 on the location for building their winter fort. In January, when a whale’s carcass washed up onto the beach south of Fort Clatsop, Sacagawea insisted on her right to go see this “monstrous fish.”
On the return trip, they approached the Rocky Mountains in July 1806. On July 6, Clark recorded “The Indian woman informed me that she had been in this plain frequently and knew it well … She said we would discover a gap in the mountains in our direction …” (which is now Gibbons Pass). A week later, on July 13, Sacagawea advised Clark to cross into the Yellowstone River basin at what is now known as Bozeman Pass. Later, this was chosen as the optimal route for the Northern Pacific Railway to cross the continental divide.
While Sacagawea has been depicted as a guide for the expedition, she is recorded as providing direction in only a few instances. Her work as an interpreter certainly helped the party to negotiate with the Shoshone; however, her greatest value to the mission may have been simply her presence during the arduous journey, which demonstrated the peaceful intent of the expedition. While traveling through what is now Franklin County, Washington, Clark noted, “The Indian woman confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter,” and, “the wife of Shabono our interpeter we find reconsiles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions a woman with a party of men is a token of peace.”
As he traveled downriver from Fort Mandan at the end of the journey, Clark wrote to Charbonneau:
You have been a long time with me and conducted your Self in Such a manner as to gain my friendship, your woman who accompanied you that long dangerous and fatigueing rout to the Pacific Ocian and back diserved a greater reward for her attention and services on that rout than we had in our power to give her at the Mandans. As to your little Son (my boy Pomp) you well know my fondness of him and my anxiety to take him and raise him as my own child … If you are desposed to accept either of my offers to you and will bring down you Son your famn [femme, woman] had best come along with you to take care of the boy untill I get him … Wishing you and your family great success & with anxious expectations of seeing my little danceing boy Baptiest I shall remain your Friend, William Clark”.
After the expedition, Charbonneau and Sacagawea spent three years among the Hidatsa before accepting William Clark’s invitation to settle in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1809. They entrusted Jean-Baptiste’s education to Clark, who enrolled the young man in the Saint Louis Academy boarding school. Sacagawea gave birth to a daughter, Lizette, sometime after 1810.
According to Bonnie “Spirit Wind-Walker” Butterfield, historical documents suggest Sacagawea died in 1812 of an unknown sickness:
An 1811 journal entry made by Henry Brackenridge, a fur dealer at Fort Manuel Lisa Trading Post on the Missouri River, stated that, both, Sacagawea and Charbonneau were living at the fort. He recorded that Sacagawea “…had become sickly and longed to revisit her native country.” The following year, John Luttig, a clerk at Fort Manuel Lisa, recorded in his journal on December 20, 1812, that: “…the wife of Charbonneau, a Snake Squaw [the common term used to denote Shoshone Indians], died of putrid fever.” He went on to say that she was “aged about 25 years. She left a fine infant girl”. Documents held by Clark show that her son Baptiste already had been entrusted by Charbonneau into Clark’s care for a boarding school education, at Clark’s insistence (Jackson, 1962).
As further proof that Sacagawea died in 1812, Butterfield writes:
An adoption document made in the Orphans Court Records in St. Louis, Missouri, states, ‘On August 11, 1813, William Clark became the guardian of ‘Tousant Charbonneau, a boy about ten years, and Lizette Charbonneau, a girl about one year old.’ For a Missouri State Court at the time, to designate a child as orphaned and to allow an adoption, both parents had to be confirmed dead in court papers.
The last recorded document citing Sacagawea’s existence appears in William Clark’s original notes written between 1825 and 1826. He lists the names of each of the expedition members and their last known whereabouts. For Sacagawea he writes: “Se car ga we au— Dead.” (Jackson, 1962).
Some American Indian oral traditions relate that rather than dying in 1812, Sacagawea left her husband Charbonneau, crossed the Great Plains, and married into a Comanche tribe. She was said to have returned to the Shoshone in Wyoming in 1860, where she died in 1884.
The question of Sacagawea’s final resting place caught the attention of national suffragists seeking voting rights for women, according to author Raymond Wilson. Wilson notes that Sacagawea became a role model whom suffragettes pointed to “with pride.” Wilson goes on to note:
“Interest in Sacajawea peaked and controversy intensified when Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard, professor of political economy at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and an active supporter of the Nineteenth Amendment, campaigned for federal legislation to erect an edifice honoring Sacajawea’s death in 1884.”
In 1925, Dr. Charles Eastman, a Dakota Sioux physician, was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to locate Sacagawea’s remains. Eastman visited many different Native American tribes, to interview elderly individuals who might have known or heard of Sacagawea, and learned of a Shoshone woman at the Wind River Reservation with the Comanche name Porivo (chief woman). Some of the people he interviewed said that she spoke of a long journey wherein she had helped white men, and that she had a silver Jefferson peace medal of the type carried by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He found a Comanche woman called Tacutine who said that Porivo was her grandmother. She had married into a Comanche tribe and had a number of children, including Tacutine’s father Ticannaf. Porivo left the tribe after her husband Jerk-Meat was killed.
According to these narratives, Porivo lived for some time at Fort Bridger in Wyoming with her sons Bazil and Baptiste, who each knew several languages, including English and French. Eventually, she found her way back to the Lemhi Shoshone at the Wind River Indian Reservation, where she was recorded as “Bazil’s mother”. This woman, Porivo is believed to have died on April 9, 1884.
It was Eastman’s conclusion that Porivo was Sacagawea. In 1963, a monument to “Sacajawea of the Shoshonis” was erected at Fort Washakie on the Wind River reservation near Lander, Wyoming, on the basis of this claim. There is also an obelisk at the believed site of her death in 1812, at Mobridge, South Dakota.
The belief that Sacagawea lived to old age and died in Wyoming was widely disseminated in the United States in the biography Sacajawea (1933) by University of Wyoming professor and historian Grace Raymond Hebard. Critics have called into question Hebard’s 30 years of research, which led to the biography of the Shoshone woman.
Sacagawea’s son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (Pomp) continued a restless and adventurous life. He carried lifelong celebrity status as the infant who went with the explorers to the Pacific Ocean and back. When he was 18, he was befriended by a German Prince, Duke Paul Wilhelm of Württemberg, who took him to Europe. There, Jean-Baptiste spent six years living among royalty, while learning four languages and fathering a child in Germany named Anton Fries.
After his infant son died, Jean-Baptiste came back from Europe in 1829 to live the life of a Western frontiersman. He became a gold miner and a hotel clerk and in 1846 led a group of Mormons to California. While in California he became a magistrate for the Mission San Luis Rey. He disliked the way Indians were treated in the Missions and left to become a hotel clerk in Auburn, California, once the center of gold rush activity.
After working six years in Auburn, the restless Jean-Baptiste left in search of riches in the gold mines of Montana. He was 61 years old, and the trip was too much for him. He became ill with pneumonia and died in a remote area near Danner, Oregon, on May 16, 1866.
We hope Sacagawea carries us and Pomp safely back to Europe, and many other places on our shared adventure.