The greatest ironies of Sacagawea’s life are probably that she was a nice person married to a sucky human being and that her legacy was used to perpetuate ideas that were contrary to the interests of her own people. But the other lesser irony is that we might not know much about Sacagawea or the expedition at all if it hadn’t been for her own quick thinking.
In April 1805, Charbonneau was steering one of the boats. Based on what we’ve heard, this seems like a bad decision, but whatever! He was steering the boat when a sudden gale nearly capsized it.
Now, Charbonneau was a pedophile and an all-around creep, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was a wuss, right? Nah, he was totally a wuss. He panicked, froze, and was only cajoled into action when one of the men threatened to shoot him. The boat, which contained “almost every article indispensably necessary to further the views, or insure the success of our enterprise,” was righted, but not before it was partially filled with water and important papers had begun to float away.
Unlike her husband, Sacagawea kept her cool. According to PBS, she was the one plucking the papers out of the water as they floated by, thus saving all those indispensably necessary articles for future generations.