Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sacajawea Envy

I’ve been hard at work for the past few weeks, determined to finish my opus work—the time travel story about the early American west and the mountain men/fur trappers who inhabited the area in the early 1800s. This is the story I’ve been researching and writing for five years. It’s the one where, when I read it, I really want to be the heroine.
No, that’s not exactly correct. My heroine, Mary, is a pampered former wife of a rock star. Her life has been one of privilege, private jets and non-stop parties. When she gets dropped into 1823 in the midst of an Indian camp, she knows nothing about how to survive in the wild. She is forced to rely on the mountain men who rescue her from the frightening Indians, but who are every bit as frightening themselves. Not exactly an ideal situation.

While doing the research for this story, and for my other stories about the expansion of the American west, I read the diaries of many women who crossed the country by covered wagon. These great, strong women were responsible for taming and civilizing the west. So why do we not know their names? Most of these women were placed in secondary roles, birthing and caring for children, and keeping the home fires burning, but not warranting a place in our history books.

Only one woman bucked the trend. Sacajawea. If not for this Indian woman, the expedition of Lewis and Clark would have been a failure. Quite possibly not one person would have survived. She guided this company of men across vast wildernesses, spoke to the Indians they encountered and acted as interpreter for the company, maintained the peace, and, oh yes—she had a child while they were traveling and carried the baby with her the rest of the trip.

So now, while I’ll eventually write a story about a pony express rider, being on a wagon train or  marrying a fur trapper, the story of my heart is about this amazing woman. I’ll write her story someday. But in the meantime, I’m suffering Sacajawea envy.


  1. Modern women just weren't born to sustain the hardships of Sacajawea. Though presented with her difficulties, I bet we could rise to the occasion. I love what you write about, Becky. In addition to providing compelling fiction, you educate. Kudos to you!

  2. Being a former Girl Scout and a Girl Scout leader, I had to read about Sacajawea so I share your envy. The bood was huge 1380 pages, if I remembber correctly. I read and enjoyed it on a three-week vacation. I remember Hubby teasing me that nothing would get accomplished all summer when he saw the size of the book. A great woman in history for sure.

  3. She is one of the greats of American history. Thanks for posting this article, Becky. And I am really, really looking forward to reading your time travel!

  4. Becky, your blog is wonderful regarding Sacajawea envy. I remember learning only a small bit about her in school. Attending so many different schools since being an Army brat, one school would have already taught what another was just getting ready to teach. I envy your deep love of history and the novels you have woven from that love. Never stop!! I am certain you are as strong a woman as Sacajawea, only in different periods of time. Sharon Lee Fernberg