Officially, the tribe continues to claim Sacagawea lived a long life among them, dying on the reservation.
A burial plot marker on the Shoshone Wind River Reservation in Wyoming proclaims that she died at
age 78, on April 9, 1884. Yet, tribal elders admit among themselves that it is probably not Sacagawea.

Historical evidence shows she died in 1812 at the Fort Manuel Lisa Trading Post. Her body has not
been found.
Historical Evidence on Sacagawea’s Death
Today, some current members of the Shoshone Tribe are willing to admit that they do not believe
that Sacagawea’s body is buried in the marked grave on the Shoshone Reservation in Wyoming
and that she probably died in 1812 as historians have said. Oral history passed down from tribal elders
reveal that they have known all along that Sacagawea did not live a long life, did not die on the
reservation and her body is not buried in the marked grave on the Wind River Reservation.

The body is that of another Shoshone woman. The Shoshone elders told tribal members to keep this
truth secret.
In 2011, I spoke with Edmond Meeks, an enrolled member of the Shoshone Tribe who grew up among
Sacagawea’s people on the Wind River Reservation and he was willing to reveal the truth about
Sacagawea. Edmond Meeks (personal communication, November 28, 2011) told me the following:
“I have heard members of our own Shoshone Tribe say that the person that was buried here
in the Sacajawea Cemetary and later dug up and given a traditional burial up in the Wind River
Mountains, was not the Sacajawea of the Lewis and Clark expedition.”

More About Edmond Meeks, Shoshone, who gave me permission to quote him on this website. He was born
in 1944, in Fort Washakie on the Wind River Reservation and is enrolled in the Shoshone Tribe.

In His Own Words:
“I've spent a good deal of my time in the mountains searching out old trails that have been
long forgotten and verifying stories of places I heard of as a young man. I was allowed to hear
some of the stories "that are not to be passed on" and was given the reasons why they were
to be kept in the mind only until it is time for them to be told. I don't know why I was honored with
this information but am sure that the time has come for myself or another to tell these stories.”

WHAT CRUSHED THIS ONCE PROUD TRIBE? Waves of White People Came: settlers, soldiers,
and gold seekers who entered the door that Sacagawea helped to open.
The Corps of Discovery was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and led by Meriwether Lewis
and William Clark. Sacagawea and her husband, French trapper Charbonneau was selected to join the
Expedition as interpreters, because they knew the language of the Native Americans that Lewis and
Clark had decided were important when the explorers reached what was later called the Lemhi
Valley in Northern Idaho.

When explorers reached the Salmon River in October of 1805, they asked Sacagawea to persuade her
people to provide horses for the Expedition, which was badly needed in order to continue to the
Pacific Ocean.

The Chief of the Lemhi Indians at the time happened to be Sacagawea‘s brother, Cameahwait. The
Lemhi agreed to provide vital aid needed by the Corps of Discovery, however, by helping the United
States explore Shoshone lands, they hastened the day when their tribal culture would nearly disappear.

Fur traders followed, with a group of persistent fur trappers from Canada and Britain called the Snake
River Brigade. They roamed the country trading guns and kettles for pelts from the Lemhi
Shoshone. When the beavers became scarce from over-trapping, the fur trappers moved on, leaving the
Lemhi without the suppliers that had become necessary items in their already altered way of life.

    Another opportunity came for the struggling Lemhi Indians when Major John Owen established a post in
    the Bitterroot Valley in the mid-century, which became a center of trading activity. Owens’s journal
    records the condition of the Lemhi during the transition period, after the Corps of Discovery and
    invasion by trappers and traders. The condition of poverty followed the Lemhi Shoshone through the rest
    of the century.

Owens wrote about the severe poverty of Sacagawea’s people and how they were trying to survive
day to day. His journal entry of January 20, 1860 describes more Snake Indian Shoshone “begging
on the streets and destitute.” He continued, “How in Heaven's Name they pass the cold dreary
Nights is a Mystery."
The story of the importance of
Sacagawea’s participation in the
exploration of the Pacific
Northwest often leaves out the
effect it had on her own tribe, the
Lemhi Shoshone who lived in the
upper Salmon River area.

    This is why our website begins
    with the profound effect the
    Corps of Discovery  had on
    Sacagawea’s birth tribe.

    A study of the Lemhi Shoshone also
    becomes important because of the
    negative tribal cultural practices
    recorded by Lewis and Clark in their
    Expedition Journals, and contrary to
    historical record, the Shoshone claim
    she died and was buried on the
What Became of Sacagawea's Shoshone People
After the the Expedition?
Photos Courtesy of the
Denver Public Archives
An attempt by Mormon missionaries to establish Fort Lemhi (1855-1858) brought new contact with
whites, but this ended when Indians drove the Mormons from the area. However, the Mormon name,
Lemhi from the Book of Mormon, became the name for the river and for Sacagawea’s people.

    Gold was discovered in the Snake River. This was the beginning of the end of the Lemhi as a separate
tribal entity with an ancestral homeland. Miners and the supply stores, saloons and bawdy women
quickly followed.
By 1906, the Lemhi Shoshone gave up and moved to live at Fort Hall, which is apparently what the
government had been trying to do. This was the way to assimilate the Lemhi to white society, and cause
their doom. Many of the remaining Lemhi abandoned their culture and language forever, the few who
were true to their traditions scattered across the area and became lost to history.

The question remains: Why have the Shoshone, since at least 1933, wanted to be associated with
Sacagawea and the success of the Corp of Discovery? It brought invaders into their homeland, yet the
Shoshone have perpetuated the falsehood that Sacagawea lived a long life among them and is
buried on the reservation. The answer to this question remains a mystery. Copyright 2019.

Hebard, Grace Raymond (1907). Pilot of First White Men to Cross the American Continent.
Journal of American History.

Jackson, Donald, ed. (1962). Letters of the Lewis & Clark Expedition With Related Documents:
1783-1854. Champaign/Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Lewis, Meriwether (1969). Original journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806. New York:
Arno Press.

Meeks, Edmond. Personal communication, November 28, 2011.

Owen, John (1927). The journals and letters of Major John Owen, pioneer of the Northwest, 1850-
1871. Edward Eberstadt Publishing.
Photo taken in early 1900 of Shoshone Indians standing in a street in Salmon, Idaho
Shoshone Indians Standing in
the Street in Salmon Idaho,
Early 1900.
Shoshone in front of their Tipi, Late 1800.
Conflicts arose over the miner’s intrusion into the hard-won
hunting and fishing rights of the Lemhi Shoshone. Tendoy, the
current Lemhi chief was able to obtain a 100-mile reservation for
the Lemhi, which stretched along the Lemhi River.

The reservation was actually too small to support the 1200 Lemhi
still living in the area because much of the terrain was rough and
did not produce enough fish and game for the Lemhi to live on. U.S.
Indian agents tried to encourage the Lemhi to farm and grow crops
on this small reservation, but the government delayed sending
them the promised tools and farmed equipment to properly work
the land.
What happened to the Lemhi Shoshone?
The Lemhi Shoshone became part of a controversy that has raged on for over a hundred years
when a book written in 1933 by Grace Hebard reported that tribal Shoshone elders said
Sacagawea lived to an old age and was buried on the reservation in 1884.
Shoshone in 1884.
Native Americans: Culture, Art, Jewelry and Pottery