It is 1800, at the Shoshone camp near the headwaters of the Missouri River. Boinair (Sacajawea) is 12 years old. Through Shoshone tradition she must begin to transition into adulthood, even though she’s still a child. As our story begins, we first see her alone in a small tipi overpowered by the majestic wilderness, yet she’s brave and unshaken…a small girl singing the songs of the grandmothers, burning the sacred elements in belief. An eagle waits, guarding from the treetops as the sacred fire warms her from within. Its flame and smoke carry the prayers from her heart and spirit, preparing for life’s journey – a magnificent journey that only Destiny understands…
Black Eagle Interpretation:
When a young woman reached 12 years of age she would begin her rites of passage towards womanhood. When she had her first moon time the mother, the women and the grandmothers of the tribe would perform a moon time ceremony to help her begin her transition into womanhood.
When a young boy reached 12 years of age his rites of passage towards manhood would begin. The father would take the young man out on the land to do a vision quest. The vision quest would help the young man identify his gifts, abilities and understand his purpose in life. The vision quest would help him with his transition into manhood.
For a young woman, at age 12, the father would have no influence on how she was to be raised from there on. It would be up the mother, the women and the grandmothers of the tribe to teach her what it is to be a nurturer, a keeper of the sacred fire and a giver of life. For a young man, at age 12, the mother would have no influence on how he was to be raised from there on. It would be up to the father, the men and grandfathers of the tribe to teach the young man to be a protector and provider for the women, children and community.
The physical walk on this journey we call life has four stages. The four stages begin as a baby, then a young man/young woman, to middle aged and elder. Traditionally, as Indigenous people, every member of the family (children, women, parents, aunts, uncles, elders) and community members had their traditional roles and responsibilities that were to be carried out within the tribe so that everyone could live in harmony and balance, as a community.
The woman is the most powerful and sacred being in this world. We, as men, are strong physically, but the woman is stronger emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually because she is a giver of life. It was said that only when the woman regains her rightful place in the circle of life, will humanity be able to correct itself.
As with life, our paths take us down many roads, some unexpected and painful. In the screenplay, Windcatcher: The Story of Sacajawea we see how Sacajawea’s life was no different. At 12 years old, her future seemed bright, she had a betrothed to spend the rest of her life with and she was to be taught and guided by the women of her tribe – but suddenly, she was ripped away. Though Sacajawea had horrific trauma in her life, she was still able to become the giver of life, the nurturer, the keeper of the sacred fire and the healer. Literally, it was from her character, her willingness to share knowledge and herself, and the love she held for her child that we remember her for over 200 years. Metaphorically, we see through her journey that life is a series of light and dark that allows us to become greater than our human selves. We can also see that Destiny has a mystical plan, if we listen and believe.