"His Sister's Son"
by Michael Haynes
Watercolor, 24 by 36 inches.
A Very Special Moment
One of the best-known episodes in the whole story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is the surprise reunion of the party's "interpretess," Sacagawea, with her brother, Cameahwait, the "Great Chief" of the Lemhi Shoshones. It was recorded briefly and matter-of-factly by Meriwether Lewis. In artist Michael Haynes's conception of a brief and tender moment, otherwise undocumented, the proud young mother smiles broadly as if to tease little Jean Baptiste into responding similarly toward his uncle. Cameahwait, whom Clark called "a man of Influence Sence & easey & reserved manners, [who] appears to possess a great deel of Cincerity,"1 seems to be speaking softly to the 6-month-old baby. The Chief is wearing a tippet, that "most eligant peice of Indian dress," much like the one he later gave to Meriwether Lewis.
The scene is inside the leather lodge Lewis purchased from Toussaint Charbonneau at Fort Mandan.2 Nightly from early April until mid-November, 1805, it sheltered the two captains and Clark's servant, York, interpreters George Drouillard and Toussaint Charbonneau, Toussaint's wife Sacagawea, and Jean Baptiste. While Lewis searched for a suitable site for their winter encampment near the mouth of the Columbia River, the rest of the company fought to survive torrential wind and rain on Tongue Point near today's Astoria, Oregon. Clark reported on November 28, "we are all wet bedding and Stores, haveing nothing to keep our Selves of Stores dry, our Lodge nearly worn out, and the pieces of Sales & tents So full of holes & rotten that they will not keep anything dry."3
Sacagawea and Cameahwait had not seen one another since their hunting camp near the Three Forks was attacked by Minitare (Hidatsa) warriors in about the year 1800. She and her sister, along with some other females and four boys, were captured by Hidatsa warriors and carried off to their village on the Missouri River near the mouth of the Knife in today's North Dakota. On 28 July 1805 the Corps of Discovery camped on the exact spot where that attack took place.4
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The artist may be contacted at Michael Haynes, Historic Art.
1. Moulton, ed., Journals, 5:114, 17 August 1805.
2. "Settled with Touisant Chabono for his Services as an enterpreter the price of a horse and Lodge purchased of him for public Service in all amounting to 500$ 33 1/3 cents." Ibid., 8:305, 17 August 1806.
3. Ibid., 6:91, 28 November 1806.
4. Ibid., 5:8-9.
Funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service, Challenge Cost Share Program.