Meet the Teachers
AND THE LEMHI SHOSHONI: CONTRIBUTION TO THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION
by Alice Higgins and Trisha Evans
Idaho State University Students
6 to 8
ALLOTMENT: Five 60 minute class
The Corps of
Discovery, the official title given the expedition led by Captain Meriwether
Lewis and William Clark from 1804-1806 was one of the most significant
expeditions in American history. Exploring and confronting the wilderness,
which was newly acquired by President Jefferson in the Louisiana Purchase,
the expedition endured physical, geographic and mental hardships. The
success of the expedition is a source of great national pride and has
been celebrated for generations.
Often overlooked in
celebration of the Lewis and Clark expedition are the invaluable contributions
of the Native Americans that were encountered along the way. Though her
presence is recognized, the role of Sacagawea is often misrepresented
and misunderstood in history books. This lesson specifically aims at the
contributions of Sacagawea and her relatives, the Lemhi Shoshoni Indians,
to the success of the Corps of Discovery. Activities in this lesson will
enrich students’ historical knowledge by considering the experiences and
perspectives of Sacagawea and the Lemhi Shoshoni Indians during this time
period. In addition, the lesson will also demonstrate their reasons and
motivations for aiding the explorers during their journey.
Students will be
- Identify the period of the
Lewis and Clark Expedition and the life of Sacagawea on a timeline that
demonstrates the chronology of important events in American History.
- Use maps to illustrate and
correlate the course of the journey of the Corps of Discovery and trails
used by the Lemhi Shoshoni Indians during this time period.
- Enrich background knowledge
and personal experience with historical fiction and journal entries
from the Corps of Discovery to understand the hardships endured by the
Lemhi Shoshoni and the Corps of Discovery during this time period.
- Identify major conflicts
that occurred or might have occurred that were remedied or prevented
by the active role of Sacagawea and her relatives, the Lemhi Shoshoni.
- Access prior knowledge about
the expedition and demonstrate critical thinking skills in order to
gain a more broad perspective about the reasons that the expedition
- Specifically recognize
the contributions of Sacagawea and the Lemhi Shoshoni Indians to the
success of the expedition.
- Articulate knowledge about
the life of Sacagawea, the culture of the Lemhi Shoshoni Indians and
their historical contributions to the Corps of Discovery by writing
and performing a play.
From the National
Standards for History, grades 5-12 www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs/standards
- Students will distinguish
between past, present, and future time and interpret data presented
in time lines and create time lines by designating appropriate equidistant
intervals of time and recording events according to the temporal order
in which they occurred. (NSH 1A and 1E)
- Students will appreciate
historical perspectives-- (a) describing the past on its own terms,
through the eyes and experiences of those who were there, as revealed
through their literature, diaries, letters, debates, arts, artifacts,
and the like; (b) considering the historical context in which the event
unfolded--the values, outlook, options, and contingencies of that time
and place; and (c) avoiding "present-mindedness,” judging the past solely
in terms of present-day norms and values. (NSH 3F)
- Students will draw upon
data in historical maps in order to obtain or clarify information on
the geographic setting in which the historical event occurred, its relative
and absolute location, the distances and directions involved, the natural
and man-made features of the place, and critical relationships in the
spatial distributions of those features and historical event occurring
there. (NSH 3G)
- Students will draw upon
visual, literary, and musical sources including: (a) photographs, paintings,
cartoons, and architectural drawings; (b) novels, poetry, and plays;
and, (c) folk, popular and classical music, to clarify, illustrate,
or elaborate upon information presented in the historical narrative.
- Students will analyze cause-and-effect
relationships bearing in mind multiple causation including (a) the importance
of the individual in history; (b) the influence of ideas, human interests,
and beliefs; and (c) the role of chance, the accidental and the irrational.
- United States Map
- Photocopied sections
from the book, The Truth About Sacajawea by Ken Thomasma.
- Art supplies, such
as rolls of blue, green and brown paper for props.
PBS, Ken Burns Series:: A Documentary Film,
Part 1, 2, 3: Lewis & Clark:
The Journey of the Corps of Discovery. (1997)
The Truth About Sacajawea by
Naya Nuki: The
Shoshoni Girl Who Ran by Ken Thomasma
Web Site http://www.nationalgeographic.com
This web site offers an interactive journey with Lewis and Clark. It puts
the students survival skills to the test, in addition to offering trivia
and excerpts from Corps of Discovery journal entries.
Ken Thomasma is an author that writes children’s books about Native Americans.
Bookmark the website
used in the lesson. Load any plug-ins necessary to run the website. Cue
the videotape to the appropriate starting point.
from the book The Truth About Sacajawea by Ken Thomasma. Gather
art supplies needed for scenery and props in play
Setting the Stage
The class will have been engaged in lessons about westward expansion,
specifically the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
To further prepare the students for the mini-unit on Sacagawea, we will
have read the book Naya Nuki: The Shoshoni Girl Who Ran by Ken
Thomasma. Naya Nuki was Sacagawea’s childhood friend. Together, along
with others, they were captured by the Hidatsa Indians. Naya Nuki escaped
and returned to her Shoshoni family. She traveled more than 1000 miles
and endured extreme hardships.
The book demonstrates
how the Shoshoni culture and lifestyle were conducive to survival and
how having these skills Naya Nuki was able to survive. The book is significant
because it provides insight as to what Sacagawea’s childhood was like
and illustrates reasons for why she was so valuable to the Corps of Discovery.
Step 1: To prepare students for this lesson we will review lessons
about Lewis & Clark and the story about Naya Nuki by creating integrated
timelines and maps. The timelines will demonstrate the correlation of
the historical fiction book and the journey of the Corps of Discovery.
The maps will show that the routes of the Lewis and Clark Expedition from
Fort Mandan coincided with Naya Nuki’s escape route home from the Mandan-Hidatsa
Step 2: Students will be asked to log on to the
National Geographic Web Site. http://www.nationalgeographic.com
Provide students with
a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to name the point
on the journey at which the expedition acquired the services of Sacagawea.
Students will engage in an interactive journey with Lewis and Clark. Students
will test their survival skills as they make decisions about the journey.
In addition, students will click on trivia and journal icons that will
supplement their knowledge about the expedition. After exiting the site,
a discussion about survival will ensue.
Step 3: Sacagawea
will be introduced and the role she played to the survival of the expedition
will be discussed.
Create a KWL Chart
(What We Know/What
We Want to Find Out/What We Learned and Need to Learn) on the board about
As a group, the class
will complete the chart based on what we know about Sacagawea and what
we want to find out about Sacagawea. Students will then be assigned to
read selected sections from the book, The Truth About Sacajawea
by Ken Thomasma.
The book contains
journal entries and synopses from the Corps of Discovery. Each student
will read their section silently and will report their information about
Complete the KWL chart
and close the discussion.
Step 1: As
a class, review the KWL chart that was created the previous day. Explain
that the chart is not yet complete and instruct the students to bring
new information to your attention so that it might be included in the
chart. Insert video, Lewis and Clark, into VCR.
with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION and ask them to raise their
hands when they hear why Sacagawea’s husband was hired to join the expedition.
START the video where there is a still shot of Fort Mandan and
the narrator says “and on the bitterly cold evening of Feb 11th...”. STOP
the video when the screensays “The Real Unknown”. Check for comprehension
and ask the students if they know why Lewis and Clark thought Sacagawea
would be integral to the expedition. Ask students if they have any information
to add to the KWL chart.
Step 2: Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION and
ask them to think about how the voyage is different for everyone on it
and particularly different for Sacagawea. START the video with
the still screen that says “The Real Unknown”. STOP video when
Clark says “This stream we called Sacagawea or Bird Woman’s River after
our interpreter the Shoshoni woman”. Check for comprehension and ask students
to discuss how this journey is different for Sacagawea than the others
(this was a journey home for her, she was carrying a child on her back,
she was a woman). Discuss the contributions that she has made so far to
the expedition. These may be added to the KWL chart.
Step 3: Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by
asking them to raise their hands when they know the name of the landmark
that Sacagawea recognizes as being familiar. START video when the
screen shows a picture of the Missouri river and Clark says, “we all believe
that we are now about to enter on the most perilous and difficult part
of our voyage...” STOP the video with “the chance to get those
horses had quite possibly passed forever.” Check for comprehension and
ask students to find the location of the expedition on the map. Ask students
to identify the point at which Naya Nuki found her family when she escaped
from the Hidatsa’s. Might the expedition be close to finding the Lemhi
Shoshoni? Fill in KWL chart.
Step 4: Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION,
by asking them to raise their hands when they know what it was that the
Lemhi Shoshoni Indians needed from the explorers. START video at
the still frame that says “The Journey of the Corps of Discovery” and
STOP at “they named the spot “Camp Fortunate”. Check for comprehension
and ask students to discuss how the needs of the expedition differed from
the needs of the Lemhi Shoshoni Indians. Hypothesize what may have happened
to each group had they not helped each other. Pose the question, would
the two sides have been able to help each other without the presence of
Sacagawea? Spend the remainder of the period reviewing the KWL chart,
the timelines and the maps. Ask students to think about the role of Sacagawea
and the Lemhi Shoshoni Indians in order to prepare for the next days activity.
In order to help students understand what Sacagawea’s life was like, try
writing a play about her life with your students. Practice it, and then
Step 1. Have your students review the background information on Sacagawea’s
life. Have them help you list significant parts of her life (i.e. being
kidnapped, meeting Lewis and Clark, having her son on the expedition,
seeing her brother and her people again in Montana close to the Idaho
border). Have these significant parts be the different scenes in your
Step 2. Have your students help you list the main characters in Sacagawea’s
life. (Main characters: Sacagawea, Charbonneau, Pompey, Lewis, Clark,
and Cameawait). Assign students to play the roles of these main characters.
Use the extra students as people from the different tribes (Hidatsa, Missouri
Mandan, and Lemhi Shoshoni) and for extra people traveling with the expedition.
Step 3. Have students find out all that they can about their character.
What part or role do they play in this play?
Step 4. Now begin writing your play with the students step by step.
Have each character (student) take part in the writing and organizing
of the play. If you want to keep it easy, have a narrator for your play
so that the students don’t have to learn lines, they can just learn actions
Your play should look
something like this:
Scene 1: Sacagawea was born in approximately 1787 to a Shoshoni
woman who was part of a Native American tribe that lived in the Rocky
Mountain area of Northwestern United States. Her name means “Bird Woman”
in the language of the Shoshoni.
Scene 2: When
she was a young girl, she was captured by an enemy Native American tribe
called the Hidatsa, and sold to a Missouri Mandan Native American.
Scene 3: Sacagawea
was then sold to a French Canadian fur trader named Toussaint Charbonneau.
Charbonneau married Sacagawea (she was at this point 16 years old) and
she was pregnant.
Scene 4: When
Sacagawea was about nine months pregnant, her husband was hired by Lewis
and Clark (sent by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana
Purchase) to be an interpreter. They were in the North Dakota area in
the winter of 1805 where they all settled down to wait out the long, cold
winter before setting off west again.
Scene 5: Sacagawea’s
baby was born in this North Dakota camp during the winter of 1805. She
named her little boy Jean Baptiste but called him Pompey.
Scene 6: In
the spring of 1805 Lewis and Clark set out west again. They were trying
to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean and were following the Missouri
River westward. Charbonneau and Sacagawea, with Pompey strapped to her
back, traveled with them. Lewis and Clark soon found out that Sacagawea
was much more help than her lazy husband.
7: The exploring party followed the Missouri River to its source in
the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. By this time, it was late summer
of 1805. Winter would soon set in and the explorers realized that there
was no water route to the Pacific. They had to get out of the mountains
or they would freeze and starve to death. They needed horses todo this.
Scene 8: A
group of Shoshoni Native Americans visited the explorers’ camp. Could
Lewis and Clark persuade the Shoshoni to sell them horses? As soon as
Sacagawea saw the leader of this tribe, she burst into tears. The man,
Cameawait, was her brother from whom she had been kidnapped many years
Scene 9: Lewis
and Clark got their horses from the Shoshoni. They all were able to continue
their expedition westward, cross the Rocky Mountains, and reach the Pacific
Scene 10: On
their way back, Sacagawea and her husband remained at their Mandan village.
Step 5. Now
that the play is written, have the students’ think of ideas for costuming
(what did the explorers and Native Americans wear at this time?). Have
the students also think of some setting or scenery that could be used
(Wilderness: accurate plants and trees, teepees, etc.).
Step 6. Put
the play together and practice where students should stand, what they
should say, and what they should do. This could be lengthy and take a
day or so. Also, assign students to bring things from home for a costume
for their character.
Step 7. Make
the scenery for your play. Keep it easy and fun.
Step 8. Perform
your play in front of an audience, and, if possible, for parents.
Have students become designers and design a Sacagawea coin of their own.
Students should be creative and draw how they would portray Sacagawea.
Social Studies/Language Arts:
There is controversy over Sacagawea’s death. Some sources say she died
young and others say she lived up to be nearly 100 years old. The truth
is unknown. Have students research this. Students can become news reporters
and take their own stand explaining the “truth” about Sacagawea’s death.
Social Studies/Language Arts:
Research and develop an “expedition” through your town or state. Where
are you going to encounter dangers? Where will you get your supplies?
Who will be your “friends” who help you through your journey and who will
be your “enemies” who will try to stop you from success? Draw maps and
create journals to document your journey.
Students will read other books about Native Americans by Ken Thomasma.
They will report information about Native American cultures both written
and orally. Source for books can be found at the Ken Thomasma Web Site.
Basket weaving was a skill that the Shoshone tribe practiced. Teach students
how to weave baskets of their own.
Contact a local Native American tribe and arrange for someone to come
speak to the class about the Native American culture.
Research the Native
American tribe near your region. What tribe is it? How long have they
been there? Was this before or after Sacagawea’s time? Does the tribe
have any connection to Sacagawea’s tribe?
Contact a local Native
American museum. Arrange for a visit to discuss Native American traditions
and ways of life.