Sacajawea (May Have) Died In Wyoming 134 Years Ago Today
Today marks one of the most controversial anniversaries in Wyoming history. April 9, 1884, a woman purported to be Sacajawea died on the Wind River Reservation near Fort Washakie, Wyo. 134 years later, historians still question the legitimacy of the legend.
The death certificate officially identified the woman as "Bazil's Mother" and estimated she was 100 years old. According to those who knew her, the woman moved to the reservation in the 1870s and claimed to have been a scout from Lewis and Clark's legendary expedition as a teenager.
In 1925, an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs confirmed the story. In 1933, Author Grace Raymond Hebard published a biography supporting the notion that Sacajawea lived out her final years with the Shoshone tribe in Wyoming.
Since then, historians have discovered documents that suggest she may have actually died in South Dakota 72 years earlier. It is believed that, after accompanying Lewis and Clark from 1804 to 1806, Sacajawea married French-Canadian explorer Toussaint Charboneau.
A journal entry from a clerk at the Fort Manuel Lisa trading post in South Dakota recorded the death of Toussaint's wife on December 12, 1812. While Toussaint had five wives, the 25-year-old Shoshone squaw described in the journal would match the approximate age of Sacajawea.
That theory was collaborated by Lewis Merryweather Clark, who legally adopted two of Sacajawea's children in 1813. Sometime between 1825 and 1828, Clark wrote that she had died.
If Sacajawea did die in 1812, her final resting place was an unmarked grave along the upper Missouri River. If the Shoshone legend is true, however, one of Toussaint's other wives died in South Dakota. Eventually, they say, Sacajawea escaped from her husband and fled to Oklahoma, where she lived among the Comanche before rejoining the Shoshone tribe in Wyoming.