A Play about Sacagawea
Grade Levels: 3 - 6
One of the most famous Native American women of the nineteenth century was Sacagawea. She had an interesting life story that students will turn into a short play.
- Students will create a play based on Sacagawea's life.
- Background information below.
- Have students read the background information on Sacagawea's life.
- Divide the students into cooperative groups.
- Have students generate a list of questions they need to have answered before they can begin writing.
- Encourage them to use reference materials and the Internet.
- When students feel sufficiently prepared they are to begin writing their plays.
- Allow students to read and/or act out their plays to an audience.
Scene l: Sacagawea was born in approximately 1787 to a Shoshone woman who was part of a Native American tribe that lived in the Rocky Mountain area of Northwestern United States. Her name means "Bird Woman" in the language of the Shoshone.
Scene 2: When she was a young girl, she was captured by an enemy Native American tribe called the Hidatsas, and sold to a Missouri Mandan Native American.
Scene 3: Sacagawea was then sold to a French Canadian fur trader named Touissant Charbonneau. Charbonneau married Sacagawea (she was at this point 16 years old) and she became pregnant.
Scene 4: When Sacagawea was about nine months pregnant, her husband was hired by Lewis and Clark (sent by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Lousianna Purchase) to be an interpreter. They were in the North Dakota area in the winter of 1805 where they all settled down to wait out the long, cold winter before setting off west again.
Scene 5: Sacagawea's baby was born in this North Dakota camp during the winter of 1805. She named her little boy Jean Baptiste, for his father, but called him Pompey.
Scene 6: In the spring of 1805, Lewis and Clark set out west again. They were trying to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean and were following the Missouri River westward. Charbonneau and Sacagawea, with Pompey strapped to her back, traveled with them. Lewis and Clark soon found out that Sacagawea was much more help than her lazy husband!
Scene 7: The exploring party followed the Missouri River to its source in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. By this time, it was late summer of 1805. Winter would soon set in and the explorers realized that there was no water route to the Pacific. They had to get out of the mountains or they would freeze and starve to death. They needed horses to do this!
Scene 8: A group of Shoshone Native Americans visited the explorers' camp. Could Lewis and Clark persuade the Shoshones to sell them some horses? As soon as Sacagawea saw the leader of these Native Americans, she burst into tears. The man, Ca-me-ah-wait, was her brother from whom she had been kidnapped many years ago. They embraced in joy.
Scene 9: Lewis and Clark got their horses from the Shoshones! They all were able to continue their expedition westward, cross the Rocky Mountains, and reach the Pacific Ocean.
Scene 10: On their way back, Sacagawea and her husband were left off at their Mandan village.
Scene 11: Sacagawea lived to be almost 100 years old! She died in Wyoming on April 9, 1884. Her son, Pompey, also became a famous guide for European American explorers.
Excerpt from: Multicultural Activities for the American History Classroom.
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