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sacajawea: Her childhoodIllustration: Her childhood

sacajaweawas a night made for storytelling. Stars flickered over what would become known as Idaho in a sky yet to be diminished by electric light. The Agaidika camp was fragrant with cedar needles smoldering on a campfire rock.
This was not a night for stories, however. A Blackfeet raiding party was seen that day. It was the first sighting of the Agaidikas' feared enemies in some time, and the girl's father was worried.

Photo: Beads

"Always be aware that our enemies can be anywhere," he told his children. "Like us, they have many horses and can come suddenly. Never stop watching and listening for signs of danger. And never be without a weapon."
The girl listened solemnly, gently fingering the obsidian blade of the knife she always carried. She and her brothers and sisters had heard their father's warnings many times. She remembered his instructions on how to use the knife on an enemy if attacked. It had never happened, but already she was an expert with a blade. She made the knife herself, used it to prepare food and scrape hides for her clothing and was confident she could use it to defend herself.
If she were alive and the same age today, she'd be too young for middle school. When she was born, the United States was 12 years old and ended at the Mississippi River. She didn't know it existed. None of the members of her band had ever seen a white person.
She was born a member of the Agaidika tribe in Idaho's Lemhi Valley, near what is now the town of Salmon, in about 1788. Some Agaidikas, a branch of the Lemhi Shoshoni, say her true name has been lost in time.


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