Native American Press / Ojibwe News

March 16, 2001
scan of book cover: Esther Horne

Native American inducted to Northwest Minnesota Women's Hall of Fame

by Anne Dunn

Women's History Month 2001 has been a celebration of the triumphs and trials of women. To kick-off the annual event, two women were inducted into the Northwest Minnesota Women's Hall of Fame, Margaret Marvin and Esther Burnette Horne (posthumously honored).

Margaret Marvin began teaching in Warroad after in graduating from Macalester College in 1939. She also served as the librarian. Her work on behalf of the library and bringing library services, including bookmobiles, to rural people of all ages has impacted her community, the region and the state. She has received numerous awards for her library advocacy including the American Library Association's honor as one of the extraordinary advocates of the 20th century and the Minnesota Library Association Certificate of Merit.

Esther Horne, the second NMWHF inductee of 2001, was a member of the Wind River Shoshone nation and spent the last 25 years of her productive life on the White Earth Reservation. She passed away in 1999, at 90 years of age. Her long-time friend Doyle Turner, chairman of the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council, accepted the award in her behalf.

According to Doyle, Esther made a lasting impression on all who knew her. "She had the ability to say the right thing at the right time," he said. "She was our good will ambassador.

"It was not unusual to find a foreign visitor at her home," he continued. "A man came from Sweden just to talk with her. She was a bridge-builder and she taught us to build, too. She was a seeker of peace, reaching across the ocean in friendship, she shared her vision of hope for humanity."

Esther graduated from Haskell Institute in 1929 and took classes in numerous colleges in the US. She taught in the BIA educational system, in boarding school in Oklahoma and the Wahpeton Indian School in North Dakota.

She received many honors, including Master Teacher for the BIA and the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of the Interior. In 1965, after more than 30 years of teaching, she retired to Naytahwaush. She then served northern Minnesota as advisor, mentor, teacher and cultural bridge-builder through the region's schools, churches, and tribal organizations concerned with the education of Anishinabe children.

She authored a booklet on the oral traditions of her great-great grandmother, Sacajawea, and co-authored a book about herself entitled "Essie's Story: The Life and Legacy of a Shoshone Teacher". Both of which make important contributions to American Indian history. In addition, she was named Outstanding American Indian Elder of the Minnesota Indian Education Association in 1989.

"Essie's Story" was written in two parts. The first part is written entirely by anthropologist Sally McBeth. The main part of the books a collaboration presented by both authors. The format is chronological and begins with Sacajawea.

Esther writes of her experiences in an Indian Residential School, which became her extended family. Her story continues into her married and professional life. It ends with a discussion on issues related to the conflicting perceptions between historians and the native oral traditions regarding the life and death of Sacajawea.

According to historian Russell Reid, the spelling of this famous name has been a mater of controversy. In the Hidatsa language, the names should be spelled Tsakakawias, Bird Woman. However, the name was eventually anglicized for easier pronunciation and became Sakakawea. Adding to the confusion is another spelling recently adopted, Sacagawea. The name Sacajawea is Shoshone for Boat Launcher.

When Sakakawea was about 12 years old, she was captured by a party of Hidatsa or Minnetarees who were at that time living in three earthlodge villages on the Knife River in North Dakota. The Shoshone were attacked at Three Forks, Montana. Several Men, women and boys were killed. Some of the children were taken into captivity by the Hidatsa. As was customary, some of them were accepted as members of the tribe.

Some time after her arrival at the Hidatsa village, Sakakawea was acquired by Toussaint Charbanneau, a French trader who resided in the village, and later became his wife.

The Lewis and Clark expedition arrived at the Mandan and Hidatsa villages near the mouth of the Knife River on October 26, 1804. They constructed a fort that was named Fort Mandan on the east side of the Missouri River about three miles below the first Mandan village.

When Lewis and Clark departed to continue their expedition Charbanneau, Sakakawea and Baptiste, their infant son, accompanied them. Although her major contribution to the success of the expedition was not as a guide, she did point out landmarks on the route. It was largely through her efforts that the expedition obtained horses and other assistance from her people, the Shoshone. Her services also included finding food.

On May 14, 1805, she rescued packets or paper, instruments, book, and medicine that were being washed out of one of the boats when it nearly capsized during a sudden storm. According to Clark's journal of October 13, 1805, her presence made the expedition appear more friendly and she became their token of peace.

The Wind River Reservation, the third largest reservation in the US, is located in west-central Wyoming. It originally encompassed 44 million acres but land cessions reduced it to 2,268 acres. It is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe.



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