Sacagawea in the Women’s Hall of Fame
After visiting L&C and Civil War sites in
There I found our own Sacagawea, inducted in 2003. Her panel concludes with the words, "Though her later life is shrouded in mystery and controversy, Sacagawea's documented skill, determination, courage, and insight on the Expedition live on as an outstanding model and feat of great achievement." Of course we have no photographs of Sacagawea. Her panel featured not one of many well-known artists' paintings or sculptures of her, but a reproduction of her image on the dollar coin, which I thought was more than a little odd. The dates of her life, which we will never know for sure, were given as "1786/88 - 1812/1884." Take your pick!
I was pleased to find another native woman, Sarah Winnemucca of the Northern Paiutes, included in the hall of fame, although she is better known in the west than the country generally. Over all, I found the stories of all these women's accomplishments very inspiring and satisfying. I did, however, feel a little over-dosed on courage and virtue by the end of my visit, and that got me to thinking about how halls of fame generally showcase people who become famous for "good" reasons.
I asked the docent in the museum if anyone had ever thought about having an exhibit about women whose fame is based on "bad" things. No, she said, looking at me as if I were slightly batty. But wouldn't that be an interesting exhibit? There are all sorts of famous women murderers and criminals, not to mention a whole parade of notorious madams, prostitutes, traitors, and spies. I'd go to a museum like that!
Since I was traveling through western
The American Falls of the
Next: Back in the Dakotas.
[Photo by K. Dahl, copyright 2004.]