United Nations has decreed human trafficking to be one of the world’s greatest injustices. Specifically, the transportation and abuse of stolen children is one of the world’s most heinous crimes that can even be prosecuted by the international tribunal at The Hague. Sadly, the world has a history of such abuses as long as humans have existed.
This story is about one such victimized young girl. Where she lived, territorial wars caused her and her sister to be taken into slavery by another group when she was only 12 years old.
At 13, she was sold to a man named Charbonneau from France. We do not know the unspeakable horrors she experienced at his hands. We do know that he had another young girl about her age whom he had also purchased. He was never prosecuted for these crimes as far as we know. By age 16, the girl had a baby by the Frenchman.
Concurrently, the man was hired as a moderator for a large organization, and he and the two girls and the newborn moved to accommodate the man’s new employers. The bosses of the man were well aware of the nature of the relationship between Charbonneau and the girls, but they didn’t care and did nothing to intervene. As far as they knew or cared, the girl was known as Janey Charbonneau, but this, of course, was not her real name.
As the perverted family unit moved with Charbonneau’s employment, they happened to come across the area where “Janey” had been forcibly removed over four years before—her hometown. There, she discovered that her brother had become a town councilor. She was able to reunite with him…but the power of Charbonneau’s employers was so great in the area that they were unable to liberate her from her enslaver. Such is often the case in these situations, especially in nations where power is tied to money and the military.
As his employers needed him, Charonneau took the girls and the infant and moved frequently over the course of his time with the employers. Her infant son was eventually taken by one of the bosses of the endeavor and raised as his own. She later had a daughter by Charbonneau, but it is assumed the child died in infancy. “Janey” herself caught a fever and died about age 25 as far as we can tell—a short life filled with abuse, loss, fear, and insecurity. Yet, you remember her for her courage, ingenuity, and strength of character. Most people in her situation would have given up on life.
Yes, it is amazing that Sacajawea was even willing to help make the Lewis & Clark Expedition across the American west such a success over 200 years ago.