First Advisor

David A. Horowitz

Term of Graduation

Summer 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Shoshoni women -- Folklore, Sacagawea -- Legends, Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806)



Physical Description

1 online resource (140 pages)


Sacagawea, the Indian woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition has been one of the most romanticized figures in Western history. Although Sacagawea received little attention following the Corps of Discovery's return to the United States, she was rediscovered by writers associated with the women's suffrage movement at the end of the nineteenth century. The development of the enduring American legend that formed around Sacagawea was an Anglo-American and twentieth century phenomenon. In myth, she was given credit for the success of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and over time she became its savior and leader.

It is the purpose of this study to review written records of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and works on the Indian woman to trace the evolution of Sacagawea' s myth in the twentieth century. As important as the myth's relationship with the suffrage movement was, it is also important to investigate the role that professional historians, popular writers, and others played in the expansion of the legend. Did historians agree with popular writers' judgement of Sacagawea' s attributes and her contributions to the expedition? What role, if any, did Native American writers play in the formation and spread of the legends? Did governmental agencies participate in the myth's formation or dissemination? How was Sacagawea's myth altered during the latter part of the century after WWII? And most importantly, how did the Sacagawea myth support or :frame the nation's discussion of the conquest of the continent? In examining these questions, one may form a more complete opinion on the role Sacagawea played in America's Western culture.


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