Sacajawea visits Sedalia elementary schools

By Nicole Cooke

February 12, 2014

Sedalia School District 200 fourth graders had the chance to meet Sacajawea on Wednesday and learn about her involvement in the Corps of Discovery with Lewis and Clark.

Actress Dana-Marie Lee, of Ellisville, portrayed the famous traveler and interpreter during 25-minute presentations at each of the five Sedalia elementary schools. Dressed in traditional clothing, complete with her winter coat — a bear pelt — she told Sacajawea’s life story in first person, ending with the conclusion of the Corps of Discovery journey.

“The kids are so sweet and so cute. They have such a fun experience,” Lee said after her last presentation of the day at Washington Elementary. “They love to hear about it. I’m very passionate about educating in a fun way. I think you can teach kids, adults, whomever about anything without it being boring or hard. It’s my goal to bring history to life and make it fun for them.”

Lee told the story of Sacajawea’s life as a child, and how she came to be a translator for Lewis and Clark. She also talked about gender roles in Sacajawea’s tribe and how the men in her village would spend their free time when they weren’t fighting or hunting. The students at Washington were quiet as they focused on Lee during her presentation, but hands quickly shot up when she opened the floor for questions. The fourth graders aren’t currently learning about Indian history, but Washington Elementary Principal Lisa Volk said the topic is part of the fourth grade curriculum.

“Any time we can have a guest speaker come speak it makes it much more interesting for the kids,” Volk said. “We don’t get the opportunity to have guest speakers very often, so when you get to have a someone who’s not a teacher with hands-on items and answers questions, it makes it more enjoyable for them.”

Lee also performed at the Katy Depot Wednesday night as part of the new Lewis and Clark exhibit, which runs through the end of February. The exhibit features examples of Indian clothing, a map that shows the locations of various Indian tribes, and various drums, spears and arrowheads. There are also artifacts that would have been used with horses of the time period, including a travois that was used to transport injured people or supplies, an ornate head halter, a saddle and a blanket decorated with beads.

Many of the exhibit’s artifacts and Lee’s performance were due to the hard work of Trails End Committee member Doug Kiburz. He saw an article about Lee’s performance at the 75th anniversary of Babler State Park and worked to bring her to Sedalia.

“Doug felt the kids at this stage would have a wonderful learning experience,” said Connie Kiburz, who helped Lee throughout the day. “It connected the whole picture, especially with the Sacajawea statue (at the Katy Depot). This also helps bring more awareness to the things happening at the Katy Depot.”

The Katy Depot, located at 600 E. Third St., is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 826-2932.