The Babywearing Coin: Tribute to Sacagawea

Growing up in the United States, in elementary school everyone learns about Sacagawea and how she accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition; acting as an interpreter and guide, in their exploration of the Western United States.  

What most don't remember is that she was only 16 and pregnant with her first child when Clark hired her husband and her to interpret and guide the expedition on November 4, 1804.  
[Source: Wikipedia]

Sacagawea's son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (nicknamed "Pompey or Pomp"), was born on February 11, 1805 and in April, the expedition continued and headed up the Missouri River. Their 16-month journey, approximately 5,000 miles to the shore of the Pacific Ocean near the mouth of Oregon's Columbia River and back, took them through fierce terrain in the face of starvation, dangerous weather, and sickness.
[Source: Lizzard Design]

Sacagawea carried her baby boy on her back all the way to the Pacific Ocean and back! Who needs a stroller?  This was one strong babywearing mom.

In a June 29, 1805, entry, Lewis refers to "the bier in which the woman carries her child." No physical description of the "bier" is provided, but there is a reference elsewhere to mosquito netting as a "bier."

Further, Sacagawea lived among the Hidatsa beginning around the age of 11, and although it is not conclusive that Sacagawea adopted Hidatsa customs, she could reasonably have learned to carry Jean Baptiste slung from her shoulder, as was the Hidatsa custom. It is also possible that she would have used a back board, but many historians feel that this may have gotten lost along the way and would have been burdensome.

To further the importance of this strong mother and what she did for this country, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin appointed a nine-member Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee.  They met in Philadelphia in June 1998, listening to seventeen concepts submitted by members of the public, and reviewing many more suggestions received by telephone, mail and email. On June 9, 1998, the committee recommended Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, for the design of the new coin.
[Source: Wikipedia]
Used to illustrate the obverse of the Sacagawea dollar[Source: The United States Mint]
This can be forever known as the "Babywearing Coin". Anytime someone makes you feel that babywearing is not important, pull out your Sacagawea coin and show them that it was so important that the United Stated Government had it minted!

I want to thank the Center for Babywearing Studies for sharing this story with me and pointing out the coin!

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