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Grave of Sacagawea’s son is rededicated in Oregon

SHARE Grave of Sacagawea’s son is rededicated in Oregon

DANNER, Ore. — He was nicknamed "Pomp" and became one of the most famous babies of the 19th century when his mother was made part of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was the son of Sacagawea and a French-Canadian fur trapper and later became a favorite of William Clark and went on to tour the royal courts of Europe.

Over the weekend, his grave was rededicated in the remote high desert of eastern Oregon as a prelude to the events leading up to the bicentennial of the expedition that opened the American West.

The grave is three miles off U.S. 95 in the community of Danner, in southeastern Oregon near the Idaho border.

While the site is far from the actual trail of the expedition, the grave is expected to become a major tourist stop for people who will travel all or part of the Lewis and Clark trail between 2003 and 2006.

Born Feb. 11, 1805, the infant Charbonneau's face now graces the new $1 U.S. coin with his mother's.

He bridged Indian and white culture, living out his life as both a mountain man and government official. Saturday's ceremony was meant to recognize both sides of his heritage.

"I guess you could describe it as a beautiful recognition of somebody who played a major part in American history," said RoseAnn Abrahamson, a descendant of Sacagawea's brother Cameahwait.

Saturday's gathering included Shoshone Indian descendants of Sacagawea, scholars of the Corps of Discovery and local ranching families.

Charbonneau died of pneumonia in May 1866 after crossing the icy waters of the Owyhee River.

Charbonneau first came to Oregon as an infant, accompanying the Corps of Discovery. He turned a year old in present-day Warrenton. Clark took a particular liking to the boy and saw to it that Baptiste, as Charbonneau was later called, received an education in St. Louis upon the expedition's return in 1806.

In 1823, Charbonneau traveled to Europe in the company of German nobleman Prince Paul of Wurtemburg. For six years he toured Europe, learned to speak at least four languages fluently and became a favorite in royal courts. At 24, he came home to the West.

For the next 15 years, he traveled the Rocky Mountains as a mountain man, meeting up with legends such as Jim Bridger and John C. Fremont. He scouted for the Mormon Battalion during the Mexican-American War in the 1840s and settled in California. He served as mayor and judge for the San Luis Rey Mission, then spent about 20 years in the gold country of central California.