|Sacagawea statue by Leonard Crunelle. Bismarck, ND|
photo by Hans Andersen, Wikimedia Commons
Since there are no official birth records for Sacagawea (she was born circa 1788) and we do know when she died, we can still honor her on her death anniversary, Dec. 20. There are, however, legends that claim she died in 1884, though historically it has been established she died on Dec. 20, 1812 after an illness. Her name, it is believed, is a compound noun from the Hidatsa language, meaning "bird woman." The National Park Service's profile of Sacagawea states that while she may not have been the primary guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, as is commonly believed, she nevertheless made significant contributions. Much about Sacagawea's life is still debated, but it is known that her knowledge of the geography of the Northwestern US, particularly Idaho, helped the Lewis and Clark Expedition considerably.