A mom and dad are sitting with their toddler next to a couple of college-age women on a Brown Line train somewhere between Belmont and Damen. The family is examining one of the posters advertising the new Sacagawea dollar. George Washington is pictured holding the coin out for them to see.

Dad: Who is that?

Mom: I don’t know.

College woman: That’s Sacagawea.

Mom: Saca-?

College woman: Sa-ca-ga-we-a.

(They practice pronouncing it together.)

Dad: What did she do?

College woman: She led the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Dad: Saca-?

College woman: Sacagawea. She led the Lewis and Clark expedition, what was it? West of the Mississippi?

(There’s a pause.)

Dad: (laughing) I don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t she look like George Washington?

(They continue talking and laughing for a minute. The women get off at their stop. Mom and dad gaze at the poster.)

Mom: (in a didactic but immensely respectful voice, as if she were concluding a documentary) Her name was Sacagawea. She was a tour guide.

–Ari Frede

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