Interpreters with Lewis and Clark: The Story of Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau

Interpreters with Lewis and Clark: The Story of Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau

Interpreters with Lewis and Clark: The Story of Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau

Interpreters with Lewis and Clark: The Story of Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau

Synopsis

"When interpreter Toussaint Charbonneau, a French Canadian fur trader living among the Hidatsas, and his Shoshone Indian wife, Sacagawea, joined the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1803, they headed into country largely unknown to them, as it was to Thomas Jefferson's hand-picked explorers. There is little doubt as to the importance of Sacagawea's presence on the journey. She has become a near-legendary figure for her role as interpreter, guide, and "token of peace." Toussaint, however, has been maligned in both fiction and nonfiction alike - Lewis himself called him "a man of no peculiar merit."" "W. Dale Nelson offers a frank and honest portrayal of Toussaint, suggesting his character has perhaps been judged too harshly. He was indeed valuable as an interpreter and no doubt helpful with his knowledge of the Indian tribes the group encountered. And with his experience as a fur trader, he always seemed to strike a better bargain than his companions. During the expedition Sacagawea gave birth to a son, Jean Baptiste. With her death in 1812, Clark assumed custody of her son and Toussaint returned to his life on the upper Missouri. Surviving his wife by almost three decades, Toussaint worked under Clark (then Superintendent of Indian Affairs in St. Louis) as an interpreter for government officials, explorers, artists, and visiting dignitaries." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In the half year since he became superintendent of Indian affairs for Louisiana Territory, Joshua Pilcher had felt himself pestered by visitors to his cluttered office off Pine Street in St. Louis.

But when he spotted the stooped, shaggy man who wandered up the stone walk on October 21, 1839, Pilcher welcomed a companion from his well-remembered days as a fur trader.

The caller was Toussaint Charbonneau, interpreter to Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, husband to Sacagawea, and father to Jean Baptiste. Together and separately, the three were actors in events that would leave an indelible mark on the American West of their time.

To Pilcher, however, Toussaint was simply an old acquaintance he was glad to see again.

The Indian affairs superintendent, a one-time St. Louis banker, was president of the Missouri Fur Company when he met Charbonneau. Later he became an Indian agent under William Clark, then the superintendent at St. Louis. He soon began to think . . .

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