Sacajawea is a pivotal figure in Esther Horne's life. The name Sacajawea evokes the image of a young Indian woman—her infant strapped to a cradleboard—pressing westward, pointing out the way to the Pacific for the famed Lewis and Clark expedition of the early I800s.
Knowledge of her role in the expedition and the controversies surrounding her later life are critical to an understanding of much of Horne's own life. Esther Burnett Home considers herself to be a great-great-granddaughter of Sacajawea. She is related to Sacajawea through Maggie Bazil, Essie's grandmother. Maggie's father, Bazil (also known as Pa:si), is believed by some to be the adopted son and probable nephew of Sacajawea (see the Family Tree). Home remembers many of the stories that she heard about Sacajawea and recounts those traditions in her life history. Throughout her life she has worked to keep the memory of her great-great-grandmother alive.
A note on the spelling and meaning of Sacajawea's name is in order. I use the spelling "Sacajawea" throughout the book, since it is preferred by the life history's coauthor, Essie Horne, and by the Shoshone tribe. I am aware that "disciplined" scholars (Lange 1986, 32-33) are expected to use the spelling "Sacagawea," since it is the most common approximation of the spelling of her name in the journals of Lewis and Clark, who wrote her name phonetically (Anderson 1978).
Over the years, writers have employed numerous spellings and pronunciations, including Sacajawea, Sacagawea, Sakakawea, Tsakakawea, Sacajowa, and Saykijawee. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding this woman's name, and two major theories relate to the proper spelling, pronunciation, and meaning of the name (see Anderson 1978; Hebard 1933,