November 17, 2008

Author Colin Sargent talks about Sacagawea and the inspiration for his novel Museum of Human Beings

“Sacagawea is always portrayed with her ‘papoose,' who appears to be a fashion accessory.”

During a recent interview for the York Independent newspaper, Sargent spoke of his inspiration for this work of fiction that is steeped in historical fact.

"All the images of Lewis and Clark's famous Shoshone guide, from elementary history books to the coin in currency today, are titled ‘Sacagawea.' But there are two human beings in those pictures... Sacagawea is always portrayed with her ‘papoose,' who appears to be a fashion accessory as central to her legend as a flag is to Betsy Ross... I found myself wondering, who is that boy? Whatever happened to him?"

From there, Sargent explained that he began hunting through archive entries that mention Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who lived from 1805 to 1866.

As a result of that search, Sargent said, "a picture of a man struggling to emerge from the shadow of his celebrity mom began to take shape, and I felt a real connection - Baptiste is a touchstone for so many of us who are searching for our own place in the world." (read the full interview with Colin Sargent)

Purchase Museum of Human Beings, by Colin Sargent at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your review although it does have some factual errors. I realize accuracy may not be important in Mr. Sargent's work, as literary "license" often has significant validity and it can bring life to history.
Conversely, if you wish to meet the historical Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, you may wish to read his scholarly biography. Please visit if you have such interest.
Michael Ritter