Students watch a short video about Sacagawea, and learn how she came to be on the Lewis and Clark expedition. They then view a photo of a statue of Sacagawea and write a paragraph about the expedition from Sacajawea’s perspective.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Montana | Unit 4: Early Exploration" which focuses on the factors that drew people to explore Montana, and how these early visitors impacted American Indians.
4.1: Identify and use various sources of information (e.g., artifacts, diaries, photographs, charts, biographies, paintings, architecture, songs) to develop an understanding of the past.
4.3: Examine biographies, stories, narratives, and folk tales to understand the lives of ordinary people and extraordinary people, place them in time and context, and explain their relationship to important historical events.
4.4: Identify and describe famous people, important democratic values (e.g., democracy, freedom, justice) symbols (e.g., Montana and U.S. flags, state flower) and holidays, in the history of Montana, American Indian tribes, and the United States.
6.5: Identify examples of individual struggles and their influence and contributions (e.g., Sitting Bull, Louis Riel, Chief Plenty Coups, Evelyn Cameron, Helen Keller, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks).
Helena District 6.5: Identify examples of personal struggles of historical figures in Montana history and how their struggles influenced their accomplishments.
- Video: Profiles of the American West: Sacagawea - How the West is Fun
- Photo: Sacajawea Statue
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
- Class set of Sacajawea Statue handout
Explain that Sacajawea was a guide for Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Sacajawea had a difficult life: she was kidnapped at the age of 12, and later sold as a slave to Toussaint Charbonneau, whom she married. When her husband was hired as a guide for Lewis and Clark, she, too, became part of the expedition. Having an American Indian woman within their company proved to be an advantage for Lewis and Clark. They were seen as less of a threat thanks to her presence. Along the way, her baby was delivered by Clark. A river was named after Sacajawea. During a river rafting expedition, she saved important documents for Lewis and Clark after the boat capsized.
Play the video, Profiles of the American West: Sacagawea - How the West is Fun. [1:41]
Project the photo, Sacajawea Statue.
Explain that Sacajawea's statue is located along the Missouri River in Fort Benton, Montana. Fort Benton became a major business hub on the Missouri River for steamboats carrying cargo.
Give students a few minutes to study the statue. Then, distribute the Sacajawea Statue handout, and instruct students to write a paragraph about the expedition from the perspective of Sacajawea, as a guide, explorer, trailblazer, and the only Shoshone on the Corps of Discovery expedition.