When the expedition came across the place where the Hidatsas had captured Sacajawea, Lewis noted in his journal that Sacajawea showed a surprising lack of emotion. He inferred from this that she was incapable of deep emotion because of "savage simplicity." However, when she reached the actual Shoshoni camp and was reunited with her brother Cameahwait, Sacajawea proved Lewis wrong by showing a great deal of sentiment. She was overjoyed to see many of her old girlhood friends. Her happiness was mingled with tears, however, as she learned from Cameahwait that almost everyone else in her family had died since her capture. Even her sister had died, leaving behind a small boy. Among Sacajawea's old acquaintances still alive was a Shoshoni man who claimed that he and Sacajawea had been betrothed since her childhood, but when Sacajawea explained that she was already married to Charbonneau he dropped his claim.

The Shoshoni were facing a difficult part of the year, when food was scarce. They did not use guns, and hunting with bows and arrows produced little big game to eat. Lewis's men quickly made friends with the Shoshoni by going out and killing several deer with their guns. The Shoshoni devoured one of these deer raw, right where it had been shot.

Sacajawea helped the Lewis and Clark expedition negotiate the transaction for horses with the Shoshoni. Because she was related to Cameahwait, she ended up being more valuable to the expedition than Lewis and Clark had ever expected. Those who are critical of U.S. policy towards Native Americans in the subsequent years may also be critical of Sacajawea, helping the Lewis and Clark expedition open the western frontier for exploitation by white settlers. Was she a hero for helping Lewis and Clark's mission of exploration? Or was she a traitor for cooperating with a system that would ultimately destroy the Shoshoni way of life?

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