Notable Native Women
Sacajawea is well-known as the Indian woman who led Lewis and Clark on their
famous expedition to find the Pacific Ocean. The truth is a bit different
from the movie and children's book versions, however. In fact, Sacajawea was
not officially a member of the expedition party. Her husband, Toussaint
Charbonneau, was hired as an interpreter and took Sacajawea along. She was
allowed to join the party as an unofficial member because the captains
thought she would be useful to help in communicating with some of the Indian
tribes they met and also in obtaining horses from her native tribe, the
The following information is taken from the book, "Sacajawea" by Harold P.
Howard, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. This book is a
comparison and compilation of the diaries of eight members of the party:
Captains Lewis and Clark; Privates Joseph Whitehouse, Robert Frazier, and
George Shannon; Sergeants Charles Floyd, who was the only member of the
party who died during the journey, Patrick Gass and John Ordway.
Sacajawea was born about 1790 in what is now the state of Idaho. She was one
of the "Snake People," otherwise known as the Shoshone. Her name in Hidatsa
was Tsi-ki-ka-wi-as, "Bird Woman. In Shoshone, her name means "Boat Pusher."
She was stolen during a raid by a Hidatsa tribe when she was a young girl
and taken to their village near what is now Bismark, N. Dakota. Some time
afterward the French-Canadian trapper and fur trader, Charbonneau bought
Sacajawea and her companion, Otter Woman, as wives. When her husband joined
the expedition at Fort Mandan in the Dakotas, Sacajawea was about 16 years
old and pregnant.
The expedition spent the winter at Fort Mandan and Sacajawea's baby, Jean
Baptiste Charbonneau, was born on Feb. 11 or 12, 1805. He was also given the
Shoshone name, Pomp, meaning First Born.
The expedition resumed the westward trek on April 7, 1805. Their route was
along the Missouri River, west to the mountains. On May 14, 1805 an incident
occurred which was typical of the calmness and self-possession Sacajawea was
to display throughout the journey. The incident was recorded in the diaries
because of it's significance to the success of the expedition. On that day,
the boat Sacajawea was in was hit by a sudden storm squall. It keeled over
on it's side and nearly capsized. As the other members of the crew worked
desperately to right the boat, Sacajawea, with her baby strapped to her
back, busied herself with retrieving the valuable books and instruments that
floated out of the boat. They had been wrapped in waterproof packages for
protection and, thanks to Sacajawea's courage and quick actions, suffered no
Contrary to popular opinion, Sacajawea did not serve as a guide for the
party. She only influenced the direction taken by the expedition one time,
after reaching the area where her people hunted she indicated they should
take a tributary of the Beaverhead River to get to the mountains where her
people lived and where Lewis and Clark hoped to buy horses.
On August 15, 1805 Sacajawea was re-united with her tribe, only to learn
that all her family had died, with the exception of two brothers and the son
of her oldest sister, whom she adopted. One of her brothers, Cameahwait, was
head chief of the Shoshone. The Shoshone chief agreed to sell the party the
horses they needed for the trek through the mountains. He also sketched a
map of the country to the west and provided a guide, Old Toby, who took them
through the mountains and safely to the Nez Perce country. where they
resumed river travel.
Throughout the expedition, Sacajawea maintained a helpful, uncomplaining
attitude of cheerfulness in the face of hardship. This was so remarkable that
it was commented on by all the men who kept diaries. There is one record of
her complaining, however. While wintering on the Columbia River before
starting their journey back to the east, nearby Indians reported that a
whale had washed up on the beach about 35 miles from the fort. Sacajawea
said that she had traveled a long way to see the great waters and, now that
a monstrous fish was also to be seen, she thought it "very hard" that she
could not be permitted to see it, and the ocean too. Captain Clark took a
party of two canoes, including Sacajawea and her husband, to find the whale
and possibly obtain some blubber. By the time they arrived there was nothing
left but the skeleton, but they were able to buy about 35 pounds of blubber.
After the expedition was over in the summer of 1806, Sacajawea, her husband
and son remained at Fort Mandan where Lewis and Clark had found them. In
August 1806, Captain Clark wrote to Charbonneau and invited him to come to
St. Louis and bring his family, or to send Jean Baptiste to Clark for
Charbonneau and Sacajawea accepted the offer and lived near St. Louis for a
time. In March 1811, however, Charbonneau sold his land back to Clark and
returned to the Dakotas with Sacajawea. Their son remained in St. Louis in
the care of Cpt. Clark, who was the Indian Agent of the Louisiana Purchase
at that time.
What became of Sacajawea after leaving St. Louis? There are two widely
varying stories, with no proof of either. The first is that she died on Dec.
20, 1812. This information came from the records of John C. Luttig, the
clerk at Ft. Manuel, SD who wrote: "This evening the wife of Charbonneau, a
Snake squaw, died of a putrid fever. She was a good and the best woman in
the fort, aged about 25 years. She left a fine infant girl." It is a fact
that, in March 1813, John Luttig returned to St. Louis with a baby whom he
called "Sacajawea's Lizette." In August 1813, he applied to be her guardian,
as well as that of a boy called "Toussaint," but the court record shows his
name crossed out and Cpt. William Clark's written in. Jean Baptiste
Charbonneau was often called Toussaint. John Luttig died in 1815.
Shoshone oral tradition says that Sacajawea did not die in 1813, but
instead, wandered the west for a few years and eventually returned to her
tribe on the Wind River Reservation. Tradition says she died there on April
9, 1884, a venerated and influential member of the tribe, and is buried
between her son, Jean Baptiste, and her sister's son, Bazil, whom she
adopted. There is a monument over the grave on the Wind River Reservation,
of the woman called Sacajawea. Many people who were living at the time wrote
and told that it was she who traveled with Lewis and Clark to the great
water and that the woman who died at Fort Manuel was another wife of
There is no record of what became of Lizette. There is a baptismal record in
Westport, MO for Victoire, daughter of Joseph Vertifeuille and Elizabeth
Carboneau. It is not known if this was Lizette Charbonneau, Sacajawea's
daughter or not.
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau lived at least until 1866. His life can be traced
through various records of explorers and fur traders up until that time. He
was said to be a remarkable man; superior as a guide and trapper, but also
well-educated and conversant in French, German and Spanish as well as his
native Shoshone. He was with Prince Paul of Wurttemberg on his travels of
the American West in 1823, and returned with him to Germany where he stayed
for several years, returning in 1829.
He was with Jim Bridger in 1832, with Kit Carson in 1839 and in charge of a
fur-trading party in 1842 when they met Charles Fremont. He was included in
George Frederick Ruxton's book, "Life in the Far West" as one of the
important fur traders of that time. He was with Lt. Abert on an exploration
down the Canadian River and with Col. Philip Cooke and his troops from New
Mexico to California. In 1866 he started for the gold fields in Montana and
Idaho, but is said to have died on Cow Creek near the present town of
Danner, Oregon in 1866. Shoshone oral traditions, however, say that he
returned to his tribe during that time and was re-united with his mother,
Sacajawea where he lived until his death in 1885.
Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth
Text By Beverly L. Pack
Mary Musgrove was a half-breed Yamacraw Indian of the Muscogean Tribe. Her
Indian name was Coosaponakesee. Her father was a white trader and her mother
a Yamacraw Indian. Mary's mother was a sister of Emperor Biem who had tried,
in the terrible war in 1715, to drive the white man out of the southeast.
She had been sent to South Carolina when she was ten years old to go to
school. Mary could speak both Creek and English.
Mary was a tiny woman about five feet tall, wore her hair in two long braids
with a band of beads across her forehead, and a feather stuck into the band.
She married John Musgrove, a white trader who was the son of a South
Carolina official. Mary and John's trading post was Mount Venture located on
the Altamaha River.
On February 12, 1733 General James Edward Oglethorpe (founder of the colony
of Georgia) sailed with four small boats down the coast and up the Savannah
River to his new home. (Georgia was the first colony to be established in
the 18th century.) When he landed at Yamacraw Bluff, he used Mary (who was
about 33 years old at this time) as his interpreter for the first meeting
with the Yamacraw Chief (or Mico), Tomochichi, an imposing man six feet tall
and 90 years of age. (Tomochichi was very interested in Oglethorpe's gun,
which he called a "fire stick'. He remained a fast friend to Oglethorpe
until his death in 1739.) Since she regarded and believed in the white man
strongly, she was very influential in convincing the Yamacraw Indians to
support General Oglethorpe in the settling of Georgia. General Oglethorpe
regarded Mary as a valuable interpreter and employed her for a yearly salary
of one hundred pounds sterling, which in that day was equal to a great deal
more than five hundred dollars. But, Mary earned all that was paid to her
Not only did she interpret for General Oglethorpe, but she also aided in
concluding treaties and aided in securing warriors from the Creek nation in
the war that occurred between the colonists and the Spaniards who occupied
When Oglethorpe left Georgia in 1743 (1742 ?) he gave Mary a ring from his
finger. After malaria claimed four of Mary's sons and her husband John, she
married a man named Matthews, who also died. In 1744 she married Thomas
Bosomworth, who was previously the chaplain to Oglethorpe's regiment.
Reverend Bosomworth was a very shrewd individual. Up until her marriage to
Bosomworth, Mary had never closed to labor for the good of the colony. After
her marriage to Thomas, her conduct was such as to keep the whites in
constant fear of massacre and extermination.
Bosomworth set about winning the Creek Indians to his devious ways. He
convinced Malatche (brother of Mary) to have himself proclaimed as emperor
of the Creek nation. Then he procured from the Creek emperor a deed of
conveyance to he and Mary of the islands of Ossabaw, Sapelo, and St.
Catherine. Thomas then convinced the Creek nation to proclaim Mary as the
"Empress of Georgia." He used Mary's influence and previous rapport to his
Mary, having won support of all the Indians, made instant demand for
surrender of all the lands that had belonged to the Upper and Lower Creek
Indians. In August 1749 while meeting in Savannah, Mary and Thomas were
privately arrested due to debts Thomas owed in South Carolina for cattle.
The Indian Chiefs and council president met on several occasions to
negotiate the return of lands to the Indians. Bosomworth repented of his
folly, wrote to the council president apologizing for his wanton conduct.
During this time Thomas continually fought to secure the money owed Mary for
her services when she was working for General Oglethorpe. Around 1759 (1757
?), Governor Ellis settled Mary's claims by giving her 450 pounds sterling
for goods she had expended in the King's service. She was also allowed 1650
pounds sterling for her services as agent. In addition, she was given 2000
pounds sterling from the auction sale of Ossabaw and Sapelo. A grant of St.
Catherine Island was also made to Mary Bosomworth for her many good deeds
she did for the Colonists in her better days before her mind had been
poisoned by Reverend Bosomworth. The Bosomworths lived there for the rest of
their lives and are buried there. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Harris, Joel Chandler, Stories of Georgia; Spartanburg, SC; The Reprint Company, 1972 (originally printed 1896).
Mitchell, Peggy (aka Margaret Mitchell), Georgia's Empress and Women Soldiers, The Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine; Atlanta, GA; May 20, 1923, p. 15.
McCullar, Bernice, This Is Your Georgia; Montgomery, AL; Viewpoint Publications, 1968.
Georgia Journeys 1732-1754, by Sarah B. Gober Temple and Kenneth Coleman; Athens, GA; University of GA Press, 1961.
A History of Georgia, by Kenneth Coleman, ed.; Athens, GA; University of GA Press, 1977.
Suquamish Legend for All Time
One of the marvelous Suquamish leaders of modern times was Martha George, a
giggly, intuitive, woman who lived a full and productive 94 years.
Born at a time when her family transported her in an Indian canoe, she lived
to fly in jet airplanes.
A teacher to her own people and the largely Scandinavian North Kitsap
community, Martha shared the ways of her elders in the classroom and with
Once, while demonstrating how her Grandmother made Indian bread, students
were astonished to see her measure out the proper amount of Bisquick and
continue the lecture. She shared traditional skills with her students and
family including ways to live off the land, basket making and the unspoken
Suquamish language. Martha was a woman of yesterday, yet modern as today.
At her burial (she died Jan. 7, 1987) were 83 direct line descendants, each
with a story about this woman who contributed to tribal research and founded
the Small Tribes Organization of Western Washington with her own money in
the 1960s. She and her husband, Bennie, were parents to ten children, all
proud to claim an ancestral link to Chief Seattle.
Martha Purser was born in Sheridan, adjacent to Bremerton, on April 28,
1892, at a logging camp where her mother and grandmother worked as cooks.
Their traditional home was on Erlands Point, where a large band of Suquamish
had for centuries lived, near the present site of the Naval Regional Medical
Center. I the hospital features a wonderful collection of British Columbia
Indian baskets and artifacts. Ironic in that these same northern Indians
made annual plundering pilgrimages to her home area. Martha didn't mind, she
said, for she found good in everything.
She was descended from a German immigrant, her great grandfather Jacob Sigo,
and antecedents of most of the current tribal members.
Knowledge of her cultural language was gained from her maternal grandmother.
The two would gather cedar roots to make baskets, hunted for the roots,
often under rotting trees. Martha cut the roots into four-foot lengths, then
packed them to the beach where she worked hours creating the clam baskets
her grandmother had taught her to make. It was knowledge passed on to her
own children and grandchildren.
She left that large family when she was just 17 years old to marry Bennie
George, a S'kallam Indian born at Port Discovery in Jefferson County. They
were married 63 years before Bennie's death. She swore to God that she and
Bennie never had an argument. It was an arranged marriage, "It was a good
match," she would proclaim.
The couple owned property on the original Port Madison Indian reservation at
Sandy Hook, near Poulsbo. Each of her children owned a portion of that
She was proud that nine of her ten children graduated from high school. When
one of the North Kitsap High School teachers said to her, when the final
child graduated, "What are we going to do for Georges now?", she responded,
"Don't worry. I have grandchildren." (At the time of her death there were 34
grandchildren and 39 great grandchildren when she died.)
She was Suquamish tribal chairman from the late 1920s to the early 1940s.
She ran a grocery store at what is known as George's Corner, at the
intersection of the highway to Kingston and Hansville Road. She's shucked
oysters and worked at the Keyport Torpedo Station.
Her voice lives on at the Suquamish museum as one of the narrators of their
video history. Her speech is slow, but full of wisdom. Her voice smiles.
A parting word from Martha would have been: "You want to leave things as
they are and just take what you need. Don't be wasteful. That's what the
Boeda Wasborn in Sultan, Snohomish Co, WA on 22 June 1834. Bodea was Full
Blooded Snohomish Native American. She was a well known Basket Weaver as you
can see in this picture. Boeda was known by her tribe as the Head Basket
Weaver. She taught not only her people but many other tribes the art of
Basket Weaving. To this day two of her grandchildren have seven of her
orignal baskets sitting in their home, which was Boeda's home. They are
worth over thousands of dollars apiece. Which the family will never let go
of. At the age of 90 years of age she was still paddling a canoe from
Olympic Peninsula across the Puget Sound to Seattle! On the 14 December 1877
in Jefferson Co., WA Boeda married Edward STRAND who immigrated from
1. Boeda (Tsi-zak-gay) Wasborn on 22 Jun 1834 in WA.. She died on 22 Jun
1928 in Hadlock, Jefferson Co., WA.. She Wasburied in Greenwood Cemetery,
Chimicum, Jefferson Co., WA.. Extracted Marriage Record for Edward Strand
and Boeda, 14 December 1877 in Jeffereson Co., WA. by J. A. Kuhn, Probate
2. Duh-lak-kay-dim (of the Stillaguamish Tribe). Father of Boeda
3. Squ-qua-ka (Sk-tah-le-jam) (known as the Snohomish Tribe), mother of
Boeda. Duh-lak-kay-dim (of the Stillaguamish Tribe) and Squ-qua-ka
(Sk-tah-le-jam) (known as the Snohomish Tribe) had the following children:
William HICKS was born in Chimacum. Jefferson Co., WA.
4. (Of the Yakima Tribe). Boeda's Grandfather.
5. Yah-il-lah-ilh (Sktahlejam0 (known as the Snohomish Tribe), Boeda's
grandmother. (Of the Yakima Tribe) and Yah-il-lah-ilh (Sktahlejam0 (known as
the Snohomish Tribe) had the following children:
Duh-lak-kay-dim (of the Stillaguamish Tribe).
GHIGAU-NANCY WARD, CHEROKEE
There is a tremendous amount of information written about Nancy Ward. She is
mentioned in Teddy Roosevelt's book on the West, the Virginia State Paper or
South Carolina State Papers, in Mooney's book and in the Draper Collection.
There is a Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution named after
her in Chattanooga TN. She is buried in Benton, Polk County, TN. Nancy Ward
was an American Revolutionary Patriot, in that she gave cattle and clothing
to Col. Sevier and his men during the Revolution. DAR placed a rock monument
at the site. On one side of her is buried her son Five Killer and on the
other her brother Long Fellow. There is also an Association of the
Descendants of Nancy Ward in Oklahoma. Now with that said her is her
descendants. There is some question surrounding her date of death.
Ghigau, is translated to "Beloved Woman". There is quite a history around
this title which will not be told here. All of the early lines continued
below came from Emmet Starr's book "History of the Cherokee Indians". There
are many family lines of early prominent Cherokee families listed in this