Our state museums and historic sites are back open with some changes and guidelines for the health and safety of our visitors and staff. Learn more

SHSND Home > Exhibits > Online Exhibits > Lewis & Clark > People Encountered > How is Sacagawea (Sakakawea) Spelled?

People Encountered - How is Sacagawea (Sakakawea) Spelled?

blue triangle

Sakakawea statueOfficial North Dakota policy is to use the “Sakakawea” spelling based largely on the writings of Russell Reid who researched the subject in the early 1900's. Most of the rest of the United States, however, including the Hidatsa in North Dakota, tend to use the “Sacagawea” version as being closer to the meaning of her given name. The source of debate ever since, the true spelling of her name is difficult for a number of reasons. First of all, Hidatsa is not a written language; Lewis and Clark themselves employed over a dozen different spellings of her name in their journals. Secondly, coming from an oral tradition, the proper spelling of her name presents difficulty because of the phonetics involved. The controversy probably will not be resolved any time soon, but it is probably best to use the spelling that contemporary Hidatsa people prefer.

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
We are open until noon on Christmas Eve.
State Archives: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666
email: history@nd.gov

Social Media:
See all social media accounts