Jackie McNeel
Numerous statues of Sacajawea include her baby “Pomp” such as this statue at the Sacajawea Center in Salmon, Idaho.

Native History: Sacajawea Gives Birth to Young Explorer Pompey

Jack McNeel

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.

The image of Jean Baptiste “Pomp” Charbonneau is included with Sacajawea on the gold dollar.

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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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Rattlesnake rattles mixed with water, huh? I should have used that on my son who was nearly a month late being born. To this day he does things on his own time. :) I don't know if my wife would have gone along with using that potion though.