Please note: To view the design of this website, you need a browser that supports web standards. The content of this site is accessable (with no formatting) to any browser. Upgrade to a Web standards compliant browser

Current Chapter arrow  Current Page arrow

Illustration: Life with CharbonneauCharbonneau´s weakness was well known - people gossiped about his lack of interest in women his own age - and young Shoshoni women in particular seemed to appeal to him. He already had one Shoshoni wife, and Sacajawea´s youthful good looks quickly caught his attention.
In 1804, he took her as his second wife. He was then about 45. She was 16.
There was no wedding, no exchange of vows or gifts, no feast. Her family, the traditions of her tribe, the Agaidika man to whom she was promised in childhood all were distant memories.
Charbonneau was far from being the type of man she would have chosen. Though Agaidika women commonly married older men in their own tribe, Charbonneau at 45 was pushing the envelope. He was almost three times Sacajawea´s age. To her, he was an old man.
Nor was she likely to have chosen a white man. Even now, most Lemhi people try to find spouses within the Shoshoni tribe. Sacajawea had never seen a white person until she was nearly grown. And at least one other aspect of Charbonneau´s physical appearance bothered her.
Photo: Rose Ann Abrahamson Photo: Lemhi Speak Text "Fannie Silver (above) said that Charbonneau didn't look at women his own age. He only looked at the young girls. He couldn't keep his eyes off of them. The Hidatsas have their own version, that she was a Hidatsa. But would you give your daughter to such a man?"  Rose Ann Abrahamson Then as now, Shoshoni men plucked or closely shaved their beards. Women of the tribe consider excessive facial hair distasteful. Charbonneau´s beard, his age and his reputation for mistreating women repulsed his reluctant bride.
Once he became her husband, however, Sacajawea accepted him and did her best to adapt to Charbonneau. Her mother, aunts and grandmother taught her that marriage is for life. It was her duty to make her marriage work even if it wasn´t to a man she would have chosen. Agaidika women sometimes left their husbands, but it was rare. For better or worse, Sacajawea stayed with Charbonneau.
They lived in a tepee in or near the village. She preferred the tepee to the earth-covered lodges because it reminded her of home.

Use of this site signifies your agreement with our Terms of Service (Updated: 01/03/03)
The Idaho Statesman - Always Idaho -
Photo: bottom shadow