Finding Sacajawea in Sedona

I’ve just finished reading Anna Waldo’s novel about Sacajawea, the young Indian woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their historic expedition and played a key role in the success of their venture.  Although the book was fiction it was meticulously footnoted with excerpts from the Lewis and Clark journals and other sources. The book is 1,400 pages long. It has received accolades for the way it brings the story of Sacajawea to life. I discovered Sacajawea and her story at a travel rest stop in Iowa a couple of weeks ago. 

 I was surprised to find Sacajawea Plaza as I strolled the streets of Sedona Arizona, since this is not an area of the United States where Sacajawea would have lived or traveled.

In the center of the indoor shopping plaza is a life-size statue of Sacajawea carrying her small son Jean Baptiste in a pappoose. The statue is the work of artist John Soderburg. 

Curious about what a statue of Sacajawea was doing in Arizona I did a little research and found out that Sacajawea became a symbol of independence and self-worth for the American Suffrage Movement and they spread her story throughout the country. Apparently there are more statues of Sacajawea in the United States than of any other woman. 

Sacajawea was a real person who Lewis and Clark praise in their journals for her positive contributions to their expedition. Anna Waldo’s book is fiction and historians warn that the story of Sacajawea has reached mythical proportions. Legends may have developed around her life but they are legends that portray a female heroine who was brave, intelligent, caring–a woman who could ‘think outside the box’ of her life circumstance. We need more female role models like that. 

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Filed under Arizona, Art, Books, History, People

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