Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Winged Moccasins: The Story of Sacajawea, Frances Joyce Farnsworth chronicles the life of Sacajawea, the Shoshone guide who led the Lewis and Clark expedition from North Dakota to Oregon and back again. Farnsworth’s approach is interesting for historical purposes, as she details the rigors of the expedition, yet it is also intriguing for dealing with Sacajawea as a woman and as a Native American. Of the nineteen chapters, less than half deal with the expedition. The remaining chapters are devoted to Sacajawea’s personal life, from her adolescent years preceding the expedition to her death on the Shoshone reservation in Wyoming in 1884.

The Lewis and Clark expedition was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson to explore the western territories acquired by the Louisiana Purchase. To the explorers, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark, Sacajawea and her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, presented ideal traveling companions for their purposes: Sacajawea could guide them and speak to many of the scattered Shoshone tribes while Charbonneau interpreted her words into English. Additionally, it was hoped that the presence of a Native American in the expeditionary group would lessen any tension that might arise with the native tribes as the group moved westward. Farnsworth highlights the importance of Sacajawea’s abilities; without her assistance, the expedition may well never have succeeded. Sacajawea and Charbonneau traveled with the...

(The entire section is 426 words.)