Native History: Sacajawea Gives Birth to Young Explorer Pompey
This Date in Native History: On February 11, 1805, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was born. He was the son of the Lemhi Shoshone woman called Sacajawea and her husband Toussaint Charbonneau, at Fort Mandan in what is now North Dakota. “Pomp,” as Jean Baptiste was soon to be called, was just a newborn, an infant of two months, when he and his parents left Fort Mandan on perhaps the longest exploration in U.S. history, the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific coast, through country largely unknown to the non-Native world. Pomp would be the country’s youngest explorer.
Captain Lewis was not only the leader of the expedition, but also served as the doctor. He was present at the birth of the baby and reported “her labour was tedious and the pain violent.” He was counseled by others to crush the rattles from a rattlesnake and mix that with water to help induce birth. Although skeptical, it seemed to work, as Sacajawea gave birth soon after.
Two months later, on April 7, 1805, the expedition left Fort Mandan with Sacajawea and Pomp traveling up the Missouri in a pirogue. The expedition would not end for another 17 months when they returned to St. Louis.
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