Cover image for Sacajawea : the story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Sacajawea : the story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Bruchac, Joseph, 1942-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego, CA : Silver Whistle, [2000]

Physical Description:
199 pages : maps ; 22 cm
Sacajawea, a Shoshoni Indian interpreter, peacemaker, and guide, and William Clark alternate in describing their experiences on the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Northwest.
Reading Level:
840 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.7 8.0 35646.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.7 13 Quiz: 22242 Guided reading level: Y.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

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Captured by her enemies, married to a foreigner, and a mother at age sixteen, Sacajawea lived a life of turmoil and change. Then in 1804, the mysterious young Shoshone woman known as Bird Woman met Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Acting as interpreter, peacemaker, and guide, Sacajawea bravely embarked on an epic journey that altered history forever. Hear her extraordinary story, told by Sacajawea and by William Clark, in alternating chapters and including parts of Clark's original diaries. *Authentic telling by an American Book Award winner and winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Writers Circle of The Americas *Includes a black-and-white map showing Lewis and Clark's trail *Told in the compelling voices of Sacajawea and William Clark--in alternating chapters--for two unique viewpoints *Sacajawea will be commemorated in the year 2000 with a U.S. Treasury dollar coin bearing her likeness

Author Notes

JOSEPH BRUCHAC is a poet, storyteller, and author of more than sixty books for children and adults who has received many literary honors, including the American Book Award and the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. He is of Abenaki and Slovak heritage, and lives in Greenfield Center, New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-10. Like Scott O'Dell's Streams to the River: River to the Sea (1986), this novel offers a vivid account of the famous guide's life, but this time, Sacajawea's first-person chapters are interspersed with those narrated by William Clark. The prologue begins in the voice of Sacajawea's grown son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, or "Pomp," who was an infant on the trip, and it is to him that his mother and "uncle" address their stories, which begin before Sacajawea joined the group and end after the journey was completed. Readers may find the introductions to each chapter distracting (Clark's begin with an excerpt from his actual diary, archaic spelling and language intact; Sacajawea's begin with a traditional Native American tale), and kids not drawn to adventure stories may grow weary of the detailed descriptions of the group's struggle and hardship navigating the rough terrain. But the alternating voices offer a fascinating, measured blend of cultural perspectives, creating a fuller impression of the extraordinary trip, and the social and historical climate in which it was undertaken. An extensive author's note discusses the fictionalizing process and cites source material. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bruchac's (The Arrow Over the Door) intimate novel about Lewis and Clark's epic Western exploration unfolds through the alternating voices of Sacajawea, their Shoshone interpreter, and Clark. Sacajawea's now-grown son, Pomp (Jean Baptiste Charbonneau), introduces the two narrators, explaining that Shoshone custom dictates that "one can tell only what they have seen"; since he was not yet born at the beginning of the adventure, he recounts the tale as it was told to him. Sacajawea's chapter follows, opening with a creation tale of the "great flood"--each of her chapters begins with either Shoshone tales or those of other tribes the crew encounters, and many function as cautionary fables; relevant journal entries introduce Clark's chapters. This framing device results in a few contrived references in the narrative (e.g., "The fur trade, Pomp, can make a brave man rich or cost him his life," says Clark), and the assumption that Pomp already knows the story occasionally diminishes the suspense. But Bruchac builds the alternating chapters chronologically and keeps the pace moving. Both narrators recount intriguing cultural nuances; for example, when a deserter from the expedition is recovered, the Otoes Indians plead the white man's case, arguing that it would be better to kill him than humiliate him with a public whipping. The greatest strength of the novel, however, is Sacajawea's voice, enhanced by the lyrical repetition of traditional storytelling ("It was the Moon when the Leaves Fall from the Cottonwoods," she recalls of the day she first sees Lewis and Clark). The author adheres closely to journals kept by members of the expedition, creating characters who are both lifelike and compelling, at a fascinating juncture in history. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-This intelligent, elegantly written novel weaves Sacajawea's recollections of the Lewis and Clark expedition with those of William Clark, the American captain who developed a deeply spiritual bond with her and became a surrogate uncle to her son. Beyond recounting the thrills and hardships of the legendary two-year mission, the alternating first-person narratives show the respect that develops between the young "Bird Woman" and the Corps of Discovery. Sacajawea begins her chapters with excerpts from Native American folktale, providing insight into her religious and cultural upbringing and its impact on her interpretation of events. Clark begins his with entries mostly from his journal, underscoring his keen awareness of the importance of the expedition and his desire to record even its most mundane details. Balancing the eyewitness accounts of these two people is not just a clever literary device. Clark's account is crucial to supplying information about Sacajawea that she herself cannot provide. Her narrative is devoid of self-praise and self-promotion; they would be unnatural impulses for a Shoshone female. So Bruchac uses Clark to chronicle Sacajawea's extraordinary bravery and endurance, and his voice repeats what she cannot even attempt to mention: that the mission would have been a certain failure without her. This is an engaging book to share with young adults, who will find it all the more fascinating to learn that Sacajawea was a teenager when she made history with Lewis and Clark.-William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.