Sacajawea is one of the most famous American Indian women-famous because of the literature of exploration and the mythologies of Western adventure that surround her-yet very little is known about her person. Historians know for certain that she traveled from the Mandan villages at the mouth of the Knife River to the headwaters of the Missouri, over the Bitterroot Mountains to the mouth of the Columbia, and then back to the Mandan villages with Toussaint Charbonneau, interpreter for the Lewis and Clark expedition from 1804 to 1806.
Historians know neither how to spell nor pronounce her name, and have conflicting accounts of her birth, parentage, early life, the circumstances of her marriage, her life after the expedition, her children, the circumstances of her death, and the whereabouts of her remains.
Debra Magpie Earling has written a raw-edged account of what might have been in the mind of Sacajawea a 17-year-old pregnant slave (and wife) of Touissant Charbonneau in the years of 1804-5 on the Missouri River. Accompanying her work are photo-interventions by Peter Rutledge Koch to illustrate the dark and prophetic visions that the young woman might have had as she traveled westward towards her homeland with the expedition.
The Lost Journals of Sacajawea, a limited edition artist book, is a series of collaborations among artists. Don Farnsworth at Magnolia Editions consulted and solved problems of paper technology and photo-print production. Amanda Degener of Cave Paper in Minneapolis created the magnificent "smoked buffalo rawhide" paper. Earling and Koch collaborated on the design and the texts in a prolonged dialogue during the 4 years the project was underway. Jonathan Gerken at Peter Koch Printers has solved a number of the technical and aesthetic puzzles that arose during production.
Debra Magpie Earling is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation. She has been published in journals and anthologies and her novel Perma Red received the American Book Award, the Mountains and Plains Bookseller Association Award, and a Spur Award. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008.