by Pat Mathiesen (1944)
North Seventh Street, Bozeman, Montana
J. Agee photo
T his spelling has been attributed to Nicholas Biddle, the editor of the first edition of the expedition's journals (1814), who read the captains' usual orthography as a soft g (as in gem, or gentle), and replaced their g with a j.
Meriwether Lewis understood her Hidatsa name to mean "bird woman"—saca, "bird" and wea, "woman. On May 20, 1805, he wrote that they had named a tributary of the Musselshell River "bird woman's River, after our interpreter the Snake [Indian] woman."
The photographer of the view above (right) had just raised his camera to his eye when a bird obligingly alighted on Bird Woman's head, as if to reaffirm her name in behalf of all bird-dom. Obviously, many other avians had similarly anointed her brow.