The journey was led by Lewis and Clark, whose names - like Abbott and Costello, Lincoln and Washington, Ben and Jennifer - are forever coupled in the public's mind.
Documentary-filmmaker Lori Joyce, a former Boulder resident now living in Boise, Idaho, was more intrigued by Sacagawea, the young Shoshone woman who helped the intrepid duo make their journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back.
"I have been fascinated with her story since I studied , Lewis and Clark in fourth grade," said Joyce, whose hour-long documentary, "The Journey of Sacagawea," airs at 8 tonight on KRMA- Chanel 6.
It is an amazing tale. At 12, Sacagawea was kidnaped by the Hidatsa tribe, then lost as a gambling debt to French fur trader Toussaint Charbonneau. By the time she hooked up with Lewis and Clark she was 16 and a mother.
This did not prevent her from translating with tribes the expedition ran into, finding edible roots and berries, trading for horses and helping point out the route. She did all the things the 32 men in the expedition did lugged her newborn son.
Joyce uses historical sources and interviews with Native Americans in North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Oregon to trace Sacagawea's life and her role in the success of the trip "to get a sense of who she was:" She relied heavily on the tribes' oral traditions. "I asked about the oral history of what she would have learned with them, not necessarily, what she learned on the expedition. There are 17 accounts of her in the journals. They were important pieces of what she did.
I re-created her kidnaping. We used a 12-year-old Shoshone girl, Challis Baldwin, who is supposedly a descendant,· a great- great-great grandniece (of Sacagaweia) who lives on a reservation in Idaho."
While her contributions to the success of the journey are unquestioned, Sacagawea's death is a subject of controversy. Some historians argue that she. lived on until the l880s in Wyoming. Joyce disagrees. "I believe she died at the age of 25 in South Dakota in1812. I kind of left the end up to the viewer."