Book inspired Joyce Khoury in history project
Joyce Khoury first learned about Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian woman who guided the Lewis and Clark expedition, when she read Joyce Hunsaker’s “Sacagawea Speaks.”
Khoury, soon to be 13, found that she “couldn’t stop reading” the book, and that led her to create a project for this past year’s History Day competition that placed seventh at the Washington State History Day competition held at Central Washington University last May. Her interest has led to the project being displayed at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.
“I just really liked Hunsaker’s book,” said Khoury, who is the same age that Sacagawea was when she was married to French trapper Toussaint Charbonneau. Sacagawea carried her young son Baptiste while walking from what is now eastern North Dakota to western Montana, where a chance meeting with her brother resulted in the expedition’s being given horses. “Without that, they wouldn’t have made it,” Khoury said.
Much of her research is aimed at Sacagawea’s later life. One of the primary sources Khoury quotes is from an Episcopal priest who said in 1905 that he knew that Sacagawea lived to be “about 100 years old” on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.
Eleven-year-old Gordon Young of Blaine was also a state finalist, placing sixth with his paper on Magellan. Both projects were designed to follow the year’s theme of exploration, encounter and exchange.
The students were coached by Antoinette Villa of Ferndale, who substitute teaches in a number of county districts. She said that both students needed to work a little extra because both are immigrants. “Gordon came from Hong Kong and Joyce came from Lebanon,” she said, “so they needed to work harder in some ways, especially with Joyce’s project being about a specifically American event. But both have an outstanding work ethic that resulted in very good projects, and they were both a real pleasure to work with.”
Khoury and Young both went through local and regional competitions to reach the state contest, where Khoury’s project began to take on a life of its own. At Central it was seen by the director of a national history association who asked Khoury to display it at their annual convention earlier this month. That led to David Nicandri, director of the Washington State History Museum, to invite Khoury to display it as a part of their Lewis and Clark exhibit for the rest of the year. Yesterday, she and her older sister Nancy drove it down to the museum, located in downtown Tacoma.
Entitled “Sacagawea’s Contributions to Exploration, Encounter and Exchange,” the project is a display of maps, photos and diagrams mounted on three large plywood panels. It also includes a “peek-a-boo” doll, her rendering of what Sacagawea looked like from the back “since no one knows what her face was like,” Khoury said, complete with a pair of elk hide moccasins she made herself that are like those Sacagawea would have worn.
Khoury also submitted a “process paper” that details the various parts of the exhibit and includes an impressive bibliography of 28 primary and 10 secondary sources which Villa helped her find in area libraries.
“Joyce really follows through,” said Villa, whose husband is a distant relative of the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, “and if she doesn’t understand something she’ll tell you so she can learn. Not all kids do that.”
Dr. Jack Fletcher, the director of the Oregon-California Trails Association, took Khoury’s exhibit to his association’s national convention in Portland earlier this month. The association is comprised of people “from all over the world, really,” Fletcher said, “who have an interest in the migration and history around the Oregon Trail and the California Trail.” He said it was the bibliography that was so impressive about Khoury’s work.
Joyce is the third of Joe and Sue Khoury’s four children, and was born in the U.S. The Khourys, who own Crazy Dazy’s gas station and convenience store on D Street in Blaine, moved back to Lebanon after Joyce was born but returned to Blaine a few years later.