Celebrating Sacagawea: Explorer, Guide, and Interpreter for the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Sacagawea, Women's History Month

Image source: Adventure Journal

Today in celebration of Women’s History Month we are paying tribute to a little known renowned woman who made major contributions in history. Sacagawea, a bilingual Shoshone woman (c. 1788 – 1812) and the daughter of a Shoshone chief is best known for being the only woman on the Lewis and Clark Expedition into the American West. She traveled with the expedition thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean.

Sacagawea’s name means “bird woman” or “boat puller.” Around the age of 12, she was captured by an enemy tribe (Hidatsa Indians) and sold to a French-Canadian trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau who made her one of his wives. They had two children, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, and Lizette Charbonneau.

In 2000, She was featured on a dollar coin covered in brass that was issued by the U.S. Mint. Due to its low demand, it wasn’t widely available to the general public. The Sacagawea coin (also known as the “golden dollar”) was made to replace the Susan B. Anthony dollar.

Although much of Sacagawea’s life is a mystery, no doubt she was a strong, brave, and heroic leader.

#WomensHistoryMonth continues!

Buffalo Calf Road Woman, a Warrior in the Battle of the Rosebud

Buffalo Calf Road Woman, Little Bighorn, Women's History Month, General Custer

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The remarkable story of Buffalo Calf Road Woman, a young Cheyenne warrior woman in her early twenties, weaves Native American culture with iconic women’s history. Buffalo Calf Road Woman, or Brave Woman (circa 1850’s – 1879), was a Northern Cheyenne woman who saved her wounded warrior brother, Chief Comes in Sight, in the Battle of the Rosebud in 1876. She fought next to her husband in the Battle of Little Bighorn that same year. It is not known how Buffalo Calf Road Woman acquired her skill with a gun, but she first rose to prominence among her people at the Battle of the Rosebud.

The Cheyenne were caught in the westward expansion of pioneers, miners and the army, all determined to colonize the land on the great plains occupied by native peoples. The Cheyenne and other native tribes endured attacks, massacres and forced removals to reservations. Since General Crook and his men were seen advancing toward their village, warriors prepared to ride out to stop them. Determined to help save her people, Buffalo Calf Road decided to ride with the warriors despite some opposition to a woman doing so.

General George Armstrong Custer led his troops against an encampment of Cheyenne, Lakota and other tribes camped along the Little Bighorn River. Buffalo Calf Road Woman again joined the warriors and fought bravely for her people, the only woman to do so. During the battle, she rescued a young warrior who lost his horse. Again victorious, the tribes regrouped, each going their own way.

Five months later, the Cheyenne village was viciously attacked again by soldiers in the early morning hours. When it was over, more than 40 Cheyenne lay dead, many wounded, and the village burned to the ground. Forced to flee again, this time without blankets, adequate clothing or food, Buffalo Calf Road Woman and her people made their way through a freezing, blinding snowstorm that descended on them. That first night in the icy cold, eleven babies froze to death.

The Indians were relentlessly pursued. Slowly, most of the Cheyenne surrendered. But despite being pregnant, Buffalo Calf Road Woman refused to surrender, holding out with a small group of about 30 Cheyenne “hostiles,” including some children. During this difficult period of extreme hardship, she had a second child. Eventually, with deteriorating conditions and the army’s promise of land of their own, the small band surrendered, only to learn they would be sent south to what is now Oklahoma.

For the Native Americans of the Northern Plains, the Battle of Little Bighorn was a glorious victory against U.S. government forces intent on claiming their land. Fought on June 25, 1876, in Montana Territory, the battle saw Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors quickly overwhelm and kill some 260 U.S. troops. George Armstrong Custer, the Civil War hero sent to remove the Native Americans to their reservations, was among them.

Remembering the bravery of Buffalo Calf Road Woman during National Women’s History Month!


A Dance with Maria Tallchief, First Native American Prima Ballerina

Maria Tallchief, Native American Prima Ballerina, National Women's History Month

Image Credit: Walter Owen

Breaking barriers in the ballet is the reason why we are spotlighting Maria Tallchief in celebration of National Women’s History Month. Maria Tallchief was a revolutionary American ballerina who broke barriers for Native American women and became the first Native American woman (Osage Tribe) to become a prima ballerina. Elizabeth Marie “Betty” Tall Chief (Osage family name: Ki He Kah Stah Tsa) was the first American to dance at the Paris Opera and has danced with the Paris Opera Ballet, the Ballet Russe, and the Balanchine Ballet Society, later renamed the New York City Ballet.

Maria Tallchief, Native American Prima Ballerina, Dancer

Photograph: AY Owen/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Maria Tallchief donning a headdress in 1953, the year she was honored by the state of Oklahoma.

She was a world-renowned ballerina and one of the premiere (first-ranking) American ballerinas of all time. In addition to wide fame, Tallchief earned strong reviews from critics for her technical precision, musicality, and strength. In 1996, Tallchief was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and became one of only five artists to receive the Kennedy Center Honors for their artistic contributions in the United States.

In 1999, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts, which is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government. Such recognition honors individuals who “are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.”

Celebrating female pioneers during #NationalWomensHistoryMonth!

I had no idea it was National Popcorn Poppin Month!

National Popcorn Poppin Month, Popcorn

As I was getting comfy, since the temperature dropped outside to look at one of my favorite TV shows, I discovered that throughout the month of October we celebrate National Popcorn Poppin Month. Blew my mind! I had no idea that popcorn had a national commemoration. National Popcorn Poppin Month became official when Dan Glickman who was the Secretary of Agriculture in 1999, proclaimed October as the month to celebrate this food observance in.

Because of the popcorn harvest which takes place each fall in the Midwest, this is the reason why the month of October was chosen for this food observance. Popcorn was first discovered by the native Americans, who believed that the popping noise was that of an angry god who escaped the kernel. Popcorn or popping corn is a type of corn which explodes from the kernel and puffs up when heated. Special varieties are grown to give improved popping yield. Some wild types will pop, but the cultivated strain is Zea mays averta, which is a special kind of flint corn.

Popcorn was very popular in the 1890s, until World War I. As corn crops became more depleted during this war, nuts were used instead of corn. During the Depression, popcorn was a luxury at 5-10 cents a bag. When some of the other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived.

So there you have it, another reason for celebrating food during this harvest season. So grab your favorite flavor of popcorn and enjoy a nice movie tonight! What better way to celebrate National Popcorn Poppin Month!