Winged Moccasins Critical Context - Essay

Frances Joyce Farnsworth

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Sacajawea is an important biographical subject for three reasons: She took part in a momentous historical event (the exploration of the lands west of the Mississippi River), she was a Native American, and she was female. Farnsworth’s study is one of the first biographies to recognize Sacajawea’s historical and biographical importance. Although other biographies of her have been written, Farnsworth’s is notable for its accuracy, honesty, and sympathetic approach.

Winged Moccasins, which was selected by the Junior Literary Guild as being an outstanding book, supplies the modern young reader with an understanding of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the woman who guided it. The expedition sparked the American imagination, dramatically revealing to the populace for the first time the vastness of the continent and the extent of the lands to the west, a concept that was necessary for the resultant westward movement in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Because Winged Moccasins is based upon both written and oral history, Farnsworth has created a balanced view of Sacajawea, one that values neither kind of recordkeeping above the other. This approach to history provides one of the most accurate visions of the past, as it honors not only the words but also the memories of the people who participated in the American pageant.