How popular is the baby name Sakakawea in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Sakakawea and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Sakakawea.
Sakakawea had a baby in early 1805, just before setting off with Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
Her son was named Jean Baptiste.
Why the French name? Because her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, was a trapper from Quebec.
But Clark, who had “developed a particular affection for the child,” nicknamed him Pomp.
When the party arrived at a large sandstone outcropping in mid-1806, Clark named it “Pompys Tower” and carved his signature and the date into the rock.
The outcropping, now located in the state of Montana, has since been renamed Pompeys Pillar and designated a National Monument.
[We didn’t have time to visit Pompeys Pillar on our road trip, but we did see plenty of other things…]
While in Bismarck, we walked around the North Dakota State Heritage Center Museum, which was very close to the capitol building.
One of the exhibits was on Sacagawea.
Except…that’s not what they call her in North Dakota. They prefer Sakakawea. (And it’s not just a preference; it’s the official spelling.)
From one of the displays in the museum:
What’s in a Name?
Two hundred years after Sakakawea was mentioned by name in the journals of Lewis and Clark, the debate over the spelling and pronunciation of her name continues. This issue was confused from the beginning, since the journals spell her name almost a dozen ways, and all are phonetic translations of an unwritten language. There is also debate over whether her name is Shoshone or Hidatsa. Some argue that she would have been given a new name when adopted into the Hidatsa tribe. Some have adopted the spelling Sacajawea, a translation of the Shoshone name Boat Launcher. Other groups, such as the federal government, endorse the spelling Sacagawea from the Hidatsa name for “Bird Woman.” Since the early 1900s, North Dakota has used the alternative spelling of Bird Woman, Sakakawea. These are all imperfect approximations of her real name. Captain Clark avoided the pronunciation issue by calling her Janey.
The spelling “Sacajawea” has appeared on the SSA’s list twice so far…
- 1975 – 5 baby girls named Sacajawea
- 1976 – 7 baby girls named Sacajawea
…but no other version has ever been popular enough to make the national list.
[What’s this road trip all about?]
I recently got back from a 2-week road trip through South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming:
(We set off on this one just two days after getting back from Toronto. Why? Insanity, I suppose.)
I spotted a bunch of interesting names on this trip, but instead of one massive post, I thought I’d break it all up into a series of smaller posts.
Here are some of the names I’ll be talking about:
I’ll come back and add links as the posts are published. Hope you enjoy!