What a Teenager

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The name is very familiar, but what this teenaged girl did—and what she meant to the nation—is often forgotten. Sacagawea was a pregnant 16 year-old who joined her French-Canadian husband when he was hired as an interpreter for the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804. She became America’s first female explorer. She carried her baby son from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean. Twice she saved the expedition from failure. Once she calmly saved books, instruments and medicines that were washed overboard. Then she saved them all from death when they met up with a Shoshone tribe in Montana that turned out to be her own people—with her brother as chief. She got the horses the expedition so desperately needed and kept the tribe from killing the explorers. And for all that, this young Native girl became America’s most celebrated woman. Of any color. There are more statues, monuments and natural features named for her than anyone else.

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