Charbonneau, a rough-hewn trader and trapper, was apparently quite the colorful frontier character. The Hidatsas he traded with mockingly called him "Chief of the Little Village" and "Great Horse from Afar," names they considered quite hilarious when applied to Charbonneau—he must have cut a far less majestic figure. But if he understood he was the subject of Hidatsa fun, Charbonneau reacted good-naturedly, and seemingly never resented the Indians: he was constantly collecting new Indian wives throughout his 80-year life.

Sacajawea seems to have retained a cheerful attitude toward situations one would otherwise consider sources of discomfort or grief. For example, we might suspect that Sacajawea would begrudge being sold to Charbonneau and made into his wife. However, she accepted the situation happily and never tried to run away from her husband. This may be because life with a white man presented her with a better standard of living: indeed, Native American girls of this region and time often desired to marry white traders and trappers, whose money and access to towns and technology offered them amenities they had never enjoyed at home. However, there is evidence that Sacajawea's devotion to her husband extended beyond such motivations: indeed, she stayed with Charbonneau even though he sometimes treated her quite harshly. (One time during the expedition, Clark had to stop Charbonneau from hitting her, a fact that suggests the possibility of earlier physical abuse before the expedition.) We might also expect Sacajawea to have suffered under the extremely difficult conditions of the expedition. However, life had always been very hard for the Shoshoni and Hidatsa, especially during the winter, when they had little to eat and often came close to starvation. Thus although the Lewis and Clark expedition seems to have presented much hardship for its participants, Sacajawea had grown up under such hardship. Perhaps this helps to explain her cheerful attitude throughout the trip.

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