The Lost Journals of Sacajewea

Milkweed Editions. May 2023. 264p. ISBN 9781571311450. $26. F
In her profoundly moving reimagining of Sacajewea’s life, Earling (emeritus, English, Univ. of Montana; Perma Red) devastatingly depicts how Lewis and Clark’s expedition forever changed the lives of Indigenous people. In response to the 2005 Lewis and Clark bicentennial, Earling, who is Bitterroot Salish, collaborated with master printer Peter Koch to produce an art book that included a prose poem depicting the expedition from Sacajewea’s perspective. In this expansion of that work, Earling presents an intimate window into Sacajewea’s thoughts, giving readers poetic syntax and cadence as well as unique line spacing, punctuation, and typographic effects. As the mythology of Sacajewea falls away, readers connect with her as a scared young woman, which makes the violence that she and other Indigenous people endure exponentially more horrific. In Earling’s account, a preteen Sacajewea, after being kidnapped by raiders, is enslaved by French Canadian trapper Charbonneau, who repeatedly rapes her. When Lewis and Clark arrive and employ Charbonneau, Sacajewea must travel with them. Her account of the expedition reveals her intelligence and incredible resilience and unflinchingly relates the explorers’ plundering and violence.
VERDICT A haunting account, recommended to readers wishing to deepen their understanding of this often misrepresented historical figure.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing