Of all the subjects ever portrayed on American coins, Sacagawea is one of the most interesting. She was kidnapped around the age of 10 or 11, sold into slavery a few years later, and purchased by a French fur trader by the time she was 14 to serve as his "wife." 15 years old and pregnant, she began an overland journey of thousands of miles when the fur trader was hired as a guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. (Her "husband" was actually hired on the condition that he bring Sacagawea along to interpret Native American languages, of which she knew several.)
It turns out that Sacagawea's presence on the Lewis and Clark Expedition was very likely a key factor in its overall success. William Clark, in his Journals, stated that there was no reward sufficient to repay this woman for her contribution to the Expedition. He held Sacagawea in such high esteem that when she died at the age of 25, he adopted her children.
What did Sacagawea do that was so remarkable? How could a 15-year old slave girl have such an influence in American history that we gave her Lady Liberty's traditional place on our dollar coin? The story of Sacagawea is a remarkable one, indeed.United States Mint image.