Lewis & Clark and the Indian Country

Online Site Support Notebook: Programming Ideas & Resources

PROGRAMMING REQUIREMENTS: An opening reception for "Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country" and two humanities-oriented public programs related to exhibition themes are the minimum requirement for host libraries.  The reception and one humanities program may be combined.  Humanities programs may include, but are not limited to discussions, debates, lectures, film series with discussion led by scholars, music and dance presentations with historical content, and seminars. 

We urge libraries to contact their state humanities council Speakers’ Bureaus for speakers related to the Lewis and Clark expedition and Native Americans in their area.  Also, contact your state historical society for smaller traveling exhibits and educational materials related to Lewis and Clark. 

Newberry Library programming for "Lewis and Clark"
The following 15 programs were held at the Newberry Library in 2005–2006 to complement Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country , and were made possible by a grant from the National Park Service. Curator Frederick E. Hoxie and other speakers for these programs are available for library programs as schedules permit.

  1. Recovering the Journals: The Strange History of the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition; Speaker: Gary E. Moulton, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    At the direction of President Thomas Jefferson, members of the Corps of Discovery kept extensive records of their travels and discoveries. Meriwether Lewis died in 1806, having failed to fulfill his charge to edit and publish the journals. Why was the scientific document that Jefferson envisioned when he commissioned the expedition not completed for 200 years? Gary Moulton, editor of the 13-volume The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, will trace the fascinating story of what happened to the journals following the return of the Corps to St. Louis.

  2. In Search of Lewis and Clark; Speaker: James P. Ronda, University of Tulsa
    As author of Lewis and Clark Among the Indians (1984), the first book-length study of the Corps of Discovery's interactions with the American Indian peoples they encountered, James Ronda has been deeply involved in the bicentennial of the expedition. In this talk, he will place the story of the expedition on a broad historical stage with a much-expanded cast of characters. He will also reflect on whether bicentennial activities run the risk of missing the larger, deeper stories about our past and our present that can be learned from the Lewis and Clark narrative. And he will offer some answers to a provocative question: "Lewis and Clark—who cares?"
    First Voices: Native American Perspectives
    "Most Americans tell themselves a story about Lewis and Clark, about the fact that they were brave explorers and that they discovered the path to the Pacific. We don't dispute that story but we tell a different one." Darrell Robes Kipp (Blackfeet)
    The Corps of Discovery depended on, traded, and quarreled with the indigenous people they encountered on their cross country journey. But who were these people and what is life like for their descendants who continue to live along the expedition's route and live with its legacy? In a series of special programs, the five Native American consultants to this exhibit show how their tribes today are actively recovering their heritage.

  3. Welcome to Indian Country, Then and Now
    Welcome and Blessing
    Crickett Hill Drum, Chicago-based inter-tribal group of singers
    Dorene Weise (White Earth Ojibwa), Native American Educational Services (NAES)
    Joseph Podlasek (Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe), American Indian Center, Chicago

  4. Nez Perce Country: Our Beloved Homeland; Speaker: W. Otis Halfmoon (Nez Perce), National Park Service, Santa Fe, New Mexico
    A descendant of Heyuum Pahkit Timna (Grizzly Bear with Five Hearts), a Nez Perce Chief who met the Corps of Discovery on their return journey, W. Otis Halfmoon tells his tribe's story of their interactions with the Corps of Discovery. He describes Nez Perce life before Lewis and Clark, and the untold stories and the impact of this small part of tribal history. He will discuss the present condition of the tribe and touch upon issues that pertain to the protection of natural and cultural resources.
    The Fort Clatsop Winter: Indian Stories
    The winter of 1806 at Fort Clatsop, at the northeastern tip of present-day Oregon, was the low point of the expedition of the Corps of Discovery. Worn down by the hardships of their journey and facing a difficult return trip, the Corps passed a harsh winter with Indians whose previous trading experience with whites had left them unimpressed by the Corps' remaining trade goods. As their journals make clear, Lewis and Clark considered the Indians of the Pacific Northwest "both incomprehensible and reprehensible." But how does the story look viewed from the Indian Country? In the following programs Marjorie Waheneka and Pat Gold will interweave stories about their peoples' interactions with, and impressions of, the "foul-smelling, flea-infested" men of the Corps of Discovery with narratives of their tribes contemporary conservation and artistic work.

  5. Why Is Salmon So Important to Columbia River Indians?; Speaker: Marjorie Waheneka (Cayuse/Umatilla/Warm Springs), Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, Pendleton, Oregon
    Waheneka (Et Twaii Lish), the head of exhibits at the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, will explain the traditional role of salmon in Columbian River Indians' culture. The salmon that seasonally filled the waters of the Columbia River and its tributaries were essential to the survival of the Indians of the Pacific Northwest. The salmon's life cycle dictated the life cycle of these communities and was at the root of many of their beliefs and customs. Waheneka also will discuss how Native Americans today are participating in projects to restore salmon fisheries in the Columbia, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Rivers.

  6. Reviving the Art of Wasco Basket Weaving; Speaker: Pat Courtney Gold (Wasco), fiber artist, Scappoose, Oregon
    Since 1991, Pat Gold's full-turn twined baskets with geometric human figures and motifs have been widely exhibited in museums and galleries from New York City to New Zealand. The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, the British Museum, and Harvard University's Peabody Museum are among the museums that have commissioned her to make baskets for their collections. She will demonstrate how she revived the art of Wasco basket weaving, and discuss how studying traditional baskets in museum collections provides her with knowledge and inspiration. ( Pat Courtney Gold also presented a family-oriented, hands-on demonstration of basketry. )

  7. Across the Wide Missouri: Maps of the Indian Country Before Lewis and Clark; Speaker: W. Raymond Wood, University of Missouri Mapping the Missouri River began, not with Lewis and Clark in 1803, but in 1714 with the expedition of Etienne Vèniard de Bourgmont. In fact, the river remained poorly known by Europeans and Americans until 1797, when the Spanish expedition led by James Mackay and John Thomas Evans returned to St. Louis. Seven years later, their charts provided detailed maps for the first full year of the Corps of Discovery's journey. The extent of these early maps' dependence on Indian informants is not known, but Native American charts, though created with different frames of reference, showed vast areas of the Louisiana Purchase with great accuracy.

  8. Indian Country Today Through Photography and Film : The Lewis and Clark Trail American Landscapes; Speaker: Richard Mack, Quiet Light Publishing
    Richard Mack, an Evanston, Illinois-based fine art photographer, traveled the trail of the Corps of Discovery for two years, March 2002–March 2004, to document the seasons, landscapes, beauty, and hardships as the Corps would have experienced them 200 years ago. In an illustrated talk, he invites you to re-discover the Lewis and Clark trail through his photographs. Richard Mack's book is The Lewis and Clark Trail American Landscapes.

  9. Native Homelands Along the Lewis and Clark Trail; Speaker: Sally Thompson, University of Montana
    The media curator for the Newberry Library exhibition, Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country , will show her thirty-minute documentary film, Contemporary Voices Along the Lewis and Clark Trail, in which she interviews Native Americans whose ancestors lived along the expedition's route. She will then discuss the origins of the film project, and reflect on how the interviews may help us to better understand the interactions between Native Americans and early nineteenth-century travelers.

  10. Mapping the West with Lewis and Clark; Speaker: Ralph Ehrenberg
    One of Thomas Jefferson's major objectives in sending the Corps of Discovery on this epic adventure was to map the vast region acquired through the Louisiana Purchase. Ralph Ehrenberg, an internationally recognized authority on the history of cartography, has directed two of the most important map collections in the world at the Library of Congress and the National Archives. In an illustrated talk, he will describe Lewis and Clark's preparation and training, their knowledge of the Trans-Mississippi West on the eve of the expedition, their surveying and mapping techniques, and the role of maps prepared by Indians and fur traders. Finally, Ehrenberg will discuss the preparation and printing of the published maps associated with the expedition, focusing on a number of historical maps on display in the exhibit, including a manuscript map prepared shortly after the return of the expedition.

  11. Our Story ; Speaker: Darrell Robes Kipp (Blackfeet), Piegan Institute, Browning, Montana; Players: Students from the Piegan Institute Nizipuhwahsin (Real Speak) School
    In July 1805, Meriwether Lewis shot and killed a young Blackfeet man. In 2003, students in the Nizipuhwahsin (Real Speak) School, Browning, Montana, produced a play retelling this story based on accounts passed down through the Blackfeet oral tradition. On November 19, seven middle-school students will perform this play. On a bare stage, with the simplicity of an ancient Greek play, the students tell this story in Blackfeet-language soliloquies and monologs. A student seated off to the side will translate and provide commentary. Following the play, Darrell Robes Kipp will talk about the importance of language recovery for Blackfeet and other Native peoples.

  12. Using the Past to Live in the Present; Speaker: Frederick P. Baker (Mandan/Hidatsa), Three Tribes Museum and Fort Berthold Community College, New Town, North Dakota
    The hospitality that the Mandan and Hidatsa showed to the Corps of Discovery made the winter of 1805 at Fort Mandan the most pleasant time of their entire journey. Fred Baker, a descendant of the tribes that hosted the Corps, looks forward to the 400th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's journey to ask: Where will the Mandan and Hidatsa people be in 2205? Today, the Mandan and Hidatsa are part of the Three Tribes community, which, since 1862, has included the Arikara. In the past 200 years, these tribes have adapted to a completely different economic system. They are ranchers, wage earners, and entrepreneurs instead of traders, hunters, and subsistance farmers. Given these dramatic changes, what does it mean to be a "traditionalist" or "modern" Indian today? And what will they need to do in the next two hundred years to maintain their tribal identities, values, and ways of life?

  13. Charbonneau's World: French Guides and Traders in the Early Far West; Speaker: Richard Hètu, La Presse; Commentary and discussion: Frederick P. Baker (Mandan/ Hidatsa) and Susan Sleeper Smith, Michigan State University
    Richard Hètu, New York correspondent for the Montreal daily newspaper La Presse, is the author of The Lost Guide, a fictional biography of Toussaint Charbonneau, the husband of Sacagawea (Sakakawea). Charbonneau was one of many French-Canadians who ventured into the early Far West as pioneers of the fur trade. Hètu will read excerpts and discuss his research on a man much maligned by historians and novelists, but whom he considers an engaging rogue.
    Frederick Baker is a consultant to the Newberry exhibit; historian Susan Sleeper Smith is the author of Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes .

  14. Thomas Jefferson's West; Speaker: Peter Onuf, University of Virginia
    As President Thomas Jefferson looked westward into the territory of the Louisiana Purchase, his vision of an "empire for liberty" was tempered by profound anxieties about national politics and imperial rivalries in the American hinterland. He understood that the Indian Country was far from a blank slate and that Native peoples would play a key role in determining the geopolitical future of the expanding United States. Peter Onuf, a leading expert on Jefferson's political thought, outlines the President's complex vision of America's future during the period of the Louisiana Purchase and epochal journey of the Corps of Discovery.

  15. Learning from Lewis and Clark; Speaker: Frederick E. Hoxie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (traveling exhibit curator)
    Curator Frederick E. Hoxie, Swanlund Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will present an illustrated talk reflecting on the genesis and the more than three-year development of the Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country project. He and the entire exhibit team worked in partnership with academic scholars and Native American community consultants, who are descendants of tribes who encountered the Corps of Discovery in 1805-1806. He will comment on how the Lewis and Clark bicentennial provides opportunities to expand our understanding of American history by investigating the meaning of the Corps of Discovery's historic journey for the peoples whose lands were incorporated into the U.S.

Other program ideas for adults and young adults

  • Libraries hosting other exhibitions have done an exhibit "teaser" event one to two months before the exhibit arrives to generate interest—events included lectures, films, and readings from the speeches and writings of the subjects of the exhibit.

  • Sponsor a One Book, One Community program during the exhibit using a popular treatment of the Lewis and Clark story (one title for adults, one for young adults, one for children); or a reading and discussion series with two to three books about exhibit themes (see bibliographies in the yellow tab section of this notebook).

  • Native American program topics could include ceremonial clothing and its significance in tribal history and culture; the spiritual beliefs of various Native American tribes; sign language; the current situation of tribal languages; the history of a particular tribe, its connection with Lewis and Clark, and the tribe’s activities and location today; Native American music and dance, then and now. Indian medicine, particularly at the time of Lewis and Clark (this essay may get you started-- www.lewisandclarkexhibit.org/4_0_0/page_4_1_3_1_3_2.html ); also, for Indian medicine: www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/internet/library/historical/medical_history/lewis_clark/natives.cfm
    www.teacheroz.com/Native_Americans.htm  provides links to many Native American cultural topics, including art, literature, music, food, medicine, dance, and religion.

  • www.oasisnet.org/lewisclark/index.htm
    The Oasis Institute, St. Louis, Missouri, received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to develop humanities programming about the Lewis and Clark expedition.  The Oasis web site contains excerpts from scholarly essays, discussion questions, and resource lists for a number of topics, e.g., "A Journey's Beginning: The Corps of Discovery and the Diplomacy of Western Indian Affairs."  Complete scholarly essays are available in a book published by the Oasis Institute, Lewis & Clark: Journey to Another America, which is available through the web
    site for $20.

  • Impersonators of historical figures:

    Historian Clay S. Jenkinson, Bismarck, N.D., plays both Thomas Jefferson and Meriwether Lewis (he is not listed in the Missouri Humanities Council directory).
    Daniel Slosberg impersonate Pierre Cruzat in Pierre Cruzatte: A Musical Journey on the Lewis & Clark Trail, a 45-minute program suitable for audiences of all ages.

  • www.childrenstheatreplays.com/lac.htm offers a play about Lewis and Clark for presentation by high school, college or professional performers for audiences of all ages. The web site says "Lewis and Clark: A Bicentennial of Discovery" has been written with great respect for Jefferson’s dream, with an eye on its impact on Native peoples and resulting U.S. policies.  The web site contains an informative PDF Study Guide for the play.

  • Find people in your community who have family stories, diaries, artifacts from the era of Western exploration and settlement. Create related exhibits or ask them to speak at a program.  Tape their stories.

  • Music programs featuring music of the period; Native American instrumental and vocal music. Lewis and Clark brought the first fiddlers to the Pacific Northwest of which there is any historical record.
    www.voyagerrecords.com/RV358.htm --Features an article on fiddle tunes of the Lewis and Clark era, and music the voyagers might have known.
    www.humanities.org/inquiringmind/speaker_VivianPhilipWilliams.php --About Seattle area fiddlers who specialize in music of the Lewis and Clark.  One of their presentations is titled Fiddle and Oldtime Music in the Pacific Northwest from the Lewis & Clark Expedition to the Present.
    http://musicmoz.org/Styles/World/Native_American/Vocal/ --Web site with links to many Native American Performers, including those from some tribes mentioned in the exhibit. Also check your local area for Native American performers.
    www.cruzatte.com/music_video.html --This site offers a CD or cassette of tunes and songs of the Lewis & Clark era played only on instruments that the expedition carried or had access to.

  • Develop programs on dances of the 19th century, both dances that Lewis and Clark and company might have known, as well as Native American dances.
    www.dancediscovery.org/manual/Dance_Manual.pdf  Dances Lewis and Clark and their company probably knew.
    Kevin Locke ( www.kevinlocke.com/nde/lakota.html ) His group gives a Hoop Dance demonstration and he discusses Lakota Sioux culture.

  • Food programs--about food Lewis and Clark would have taken on their journey; also the Native American diet at the time. Recipes are available on the Internet. Also see The Lewis and Clark Cookbook: Historic Recipes from the Corps of Discovery and Jefferson’s America, by Leslie Mansfield (Celestial Arts, 2003); www.nativeamericans.com/Recipes.htm.