Sacagawea: Girl of the Shining Mountains by Peter and Connie Roop (Hyperion, 2003) is a wonderful, adventurous read for students, ages ten to seventeen. It is written from the perspective of Sacagawea and told as a story to her son. Although, God’s name is never mentioned in the book, I could see His hand moving throughout her life in a wonderful way. At sixteen, she becomes an important member of the  Lewis and Clark expedition, one of the greatest events in the history of the United States.

The novel begins with Sacagawea explaining to her son, Pomp, otherwise named Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, that she had been the daughter of a Shoshoni chief named Strong Arm. When she was eleven, their tribe was raided by the Hidatsa People. Her mother, Bright Morning, was killed. Sacagawea and her sister, Antelope, were taken back to the Hidatsa village as captives. Her brother was left behind. One night, Antelope escaped. Her captors searched for her but were unable to find her. Alone, Sacagawea settled into life as a thirteen-year old slave of the Hidatsa, in what is now North Dakota.

One day her captor, gambling with the white traders who lived in the village, lost a bet on a shell game. To honor the debt, he offered Sacagawea and another Indian woman to the winner, Toussaint Charbonneau. Charbonneau married both of the Indian women and two years later, Sacagawea gave birth to Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, whom she nicknamed, “Pomp.”

One day, Lewis and Clark came to the Hidatsa village. Lewis and Clark needed translators on their journey. Captain Lewis wanted to know what tribes he might encounter on his journey to the Missouri River and as far west to the Pacific Ocean. He wanted to know what animals he might see, what plants he might find, and all about the rivers flowing into the Missouri.  Charbonneau heard they needed an interpreter who could speak with the Indian tribes to the west. He knew French and Hidatsa. He told the expedition that one of his wives could speak Shoshoni, so they could trade for horses when they crossed the Shining Mountains in Ohio. Lewis and Clark employed them.

The story continues with many exciting adventures for the travelers. The weather was severe and the rain was incessant. Sacagawea was hopeful that on this journey she would once again see her family whom she had been torn from many years ago. The travelers indeed arrived in Ohio, only to find the poverty-stricken Shoshoni but without many of the family members Sacagawea had remembered. She realized this would not be a good place to raise her son, so she departed with the group the next day.

When the journey was over, much had been accomplished, and Sacagawea and her husband and son had proven to be a tremendous help. They settled in Saint Louis. Later, Clark paid for their son’s education in a respected boarding school.

I am very captivated by this story. It makes me realize once again the many trials and tribulations the Native Americans experienced. It shows me how God could use a teenager, who had been taken from her home and treated as a slave, to become someone so well known in American history. God can use all the tragedy in our lives for His purpose and for His good.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

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