Washington State Magazine

Winter 2005


Winter 2005

Wine, Art, Chocolate

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In This Issue...

Features

Washington's Wine Crush :: From Whidbey Island to Woodinville to Walla Walla, Washington's wine industry is coming of age.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Story: Grape expectations: A look at Washington's wine }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Washington's wine crush :: Photographs by Chris Anderson. }

Living with Art :: What happens when enjoyment becomes passion.

Not Your Normal Truffle :: Head Cowgirl Marilyn Lysohir followed her muse West in search of Art and Chocolate.

It's Only a Model :: Modelers don't always expect their models to be "right." But they do expect them to help explain our world.

Panoramas

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Magpie Forest :: Photographs by George Bedirian. }

Departments

:: FOOD AND FORAGE: A Sweet Buzz: Honey

:: SEASONS/SPORTS: Going with the Floe

Tracking

Cover: Illustration by Peter Siu.

Tracking
Historian Jeanne Eder '00 dons traditional Indian attire for her portrayals of Sacagawea.

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Historian Jeanne Eder '00 dons traditional Indian attire for her portrayals of Sacagawea. Photo courtesy of WSU Department of History

Being Sacagawea

by | © Washington State University

For the past two years historian Jeanne Eder has been traveling in Sacagawea's footsteps. Donning a traditional dress as well as another woman's persona, Eder has toured the West performing her interpretation of an older and wiser Sacagawea who, years after the Journey of Discovery expedition, has time to reflect.

Eder ('00 Ph.D. Hist.) teaches at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. A Dakota Sioux who grew up on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeast Montana, she researches the lives of historic Native American women and portrays them in Chautauqua-style performances.

Playing the most famous woman of the 1800s has its challenges, says Eder. "People tend to get lost in the character and then feel that the character speaks for all Indians." She often gets questions from the audience that don't even pertain to Sacagawea or the Lewis and Clark Expedition-questions like, "Why do Indians have such high rates of alcoholism?" and "How come Indians don't pay taxes?"

Even so, she enjoys stepping into the character of a strong and independent woman. Sacagawea-alternatively spelled Sacajawea-was a Shoshone who grew up in the matrilineal culture of the Hidatsa. Women in this community had the power, says Eder. Sacagawea couldn't have helped but be influenced by that.

Eder's portrayals of Sacagawea throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho were organized in collaboration with the Washington State University history department to fill a gap in events organized to commemorate the expedition. "There's a ton of material on Lewis and Clark. No shortage," says WSU history professor Sue Armitage. "Where there is a shortage is in material on how the Indians felt.

"The way in which you present the Indian side of the story is not to lecture at white people, but to make them feel they are a part of the Indian world," says Armitage. Eder does just that. "And her Sacagawea is not a 15-year-old girl. She is a mature woman looking back with some humor."

Though some history books have Sacagawea dying at an early age, others claim that she went on to live many more years with the Shoshone in Wyoming.

For her portrayal, Eder taps into the oral histories of Indians who claimed they or their family members encountered Sacagawea long after the history books have her dying. For Eder's Sacagawea, the expedition was just one of many life experiences.

Categories: Alumni, History | Tags: Native Americans

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