Interpreters With Lewis and Clark: The Story of Sacagawea by W. Dale Nelson

By W. Dale Nelson

When interpreter Toussaint Charbonneau, a French Canadian fur dealer dwelling one of the Hidatsas, and his Shoshone Indian spouse, Sacagawea, joined the Lewis and Clark day trip in 1804, they headed into state mostly unknown to them, because it was once to Thomas Jefferson's hand-picked explorers. there's no doubt as to the significance of Sacagawea's presence at the trip. She has develop into a near-legendary determine for her function as interpreter, advisor, and “token of peace.” Toussaint, besides the fact that, has been maligned in either fiction and nonfiction alike—Lewis himself known as him “a guy of no strange merit.”

W. Dale Nelson bargains a frank and sincere portrayal of Toussaint, suggesting his personality has might be been judged too harshly. He was once certainly helpful as an interpreter and without doubt worthy together with his wisdom of the Indian tribes the crowd encountered. for instance, Toussaint proved his worthy in negotiations with the Shoshones for much-needed horses, and together with his event as a fur dealer, he consistently looked as if it would strike a greater cut price than his companions.

During the excursion Sacagawea gave start to a son, Jean Baptiste. together with her demise in 1812, Clark assumed custody of her son and Toussaint lower back to his lifestyles at the top Missouri. Surviving his spouse by means of virtually 3 many years, Toussaint labored lower than Clark (then Superintendent of Indian Affairs in St. Louis) as an interpreter for presidency officers, explorers, artists, and vacationing dignitaries. Jean Baptiste traveled the Rocky Mountains as a mountain guy, was once a scout through the Mexican American battle, and served as mayor and decide for the San Luis Rey Mission.

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Example text

It apparently did no good. ” This seems unfair, since Toussaint was trying to help. It is also uncharacteristic of Clark, usually the more generous of the captains in his judgments of their interpreter. ” Her pulse was barely perceptible, and the twitching of her arms and fingers alarmed him. He sent hunters to collect water from a nearby mineral spring, but the delirious woman refused to take it until persuaded by Toussaint, again playing an important role in his wife’s treatment. After drinking, she reported feeling less pain.

Clark decided to take a search party ahead, and ordered Robert Frazer and brothers Reubin and Joseph Fields to accompany him. 26 They reached the forks on July 27, stopped for breakfast and marched on through steep, rocky terrain. Toussaint may have regretted his decision to come. It was tough traveling. Clark’s own feet became blistered and bleeding from prickly pear thorns. After two days, Toussaint twisted an ankle and could go no further. Clark left Toussaint and Joseph Fields, whose feet were also sore, at their night’s camp.

It was a forty-four-mile trek over ice and through knee-deep snow, in air so keen it froze men’s ears. Eight miles from the fort, the unshod horses gave out, unable to walk any further on the ice. Toussaint left them on shore, still loaded with meat. He and his companions arrived at the fort on February 10. Lewis sent two sleds for the meat. 16 On January 20, one of Toussaint’s wives—probably Sacagawea, who was about seventeen years old and eight-and-one-half months pregnant—had begun feeling sick.

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