The Lewis and Clark Expedition that took place in 1803-1806 was the first land expedition across the United States from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific and back. Although the original purpose of the expedition was rather modest – to investigate what the US acquired through the Louisiana purchase from France, the results laid the foundation for future US expansion into the Wild West. Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark were chosen to lead the grand exploration. After thinking their task over carefully, they came up with a bold plan: climb the Missouri River as far as possible, cross the Rocky Mountains, and then take the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. In my opinion, it is important to note that the expedition team included native Indians, because without them, Lewis and Clark would not be able to safely pass through Indian settlements. Not all Indian tribes were friendly towards the Americans. Moreover, since the expedition had to note in detail the geographic, geological, and ethnic features of the traversed territories, the help of the Indians clearly provided significant support to the researchers.
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What I also find fascinating is the fact that on the way, Sacagawea from the Shoshone tribe joined the expedition. An excellent guide and mediator in communication with the Indians, the Indian woman was the guarantor of the good intentions of travelers. Joining the expedition with a small child, the Indian woman stoically endured all the trials along with the rest of the group. I think this is a great example of the Native Indian women’s bravery and strength worth mentioning. Another interesting point is made by Moulton (2018) in his book, where he stated that Lewis and Clark were the first Americans to explore the Great Plains, which were very different from what they were accustomed to. Some of the places that the travelers passed were so scarce in obtaining food that the expedition had to first eat their horses, and then deservedly acquire the nickname “dog eaters” from the local Indians. This point is crucial, as Lewis and Clark’s discoveries greatly influenced the geographical knowledge of the early XIX century. The expedition reached its goal by collecting truly unique material about the Indians and exploring the area in detail.
Moulton, G. E. (2018). The Lewis and Clark Expedition day by day. University of Nebraska Press.