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Final Column: 200 Years Ago This Week (April 23)

Educator/writer Larry McClure is a member of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and president of Tualatin Historical Society. He is following the historic path of the Corps of Discovery as it makes its way toward the Northwest.

Week ending April 29: From John Day Dam area to the Walla Walla River

Highlights: Getting more horses to help carry baggage is still a priority as the Expedition visits villages along the Columbia. At one stop, Sacagawea gives up two of her leather outfits to help pay for one animal. The men smoke with tribal leaders and then everyone dances: first with fiddle music provided by the Corps of Discovery and then a traditional circle dance of the tribe. The captains notice language differences of tribes we know today as the Yakama, Umatilla, Cayuse and Walla Walla Indians. At today’s Walla Walla River they describe how fishermen use bone hooks, seins and weirs. This is also where they learn that cutting cross country (through present-day Dayton, Washington) will save them 80 miles. They continue replenishing their food supply by buying dogs, but find little firewood to prepare their meals. The captains give medical aid to several Walla Walla Indians in return for help crossing the Columbia near present-day Wallula.

Words from the Journals: The men experience difficulty walking on shore: “most of the party complain of the soreness of their feet and legs this evening; it is no doubt caused by walking over the rough stones and deep sands after being several months accustomed to soft soil.” Walla Walla Chief Yellept “appeared much gratified at seeing us return, invited us to remain at his village three or four days and assured us that we should be furnished with plenty of such food as they had themselves and some horses to assist us in our journey.” Chief Yellept, who they first met last October, gives Clark a fine white horse in hopes of obtaining a kettle, but the captain says they can’t give up any more equipment. Instead, the chief accepts Clark’s sword, ammunition and other small items.

Today’s connections: The Corps of Discovery has now said farewell to the country that will officially become Oregon in 53 years. For the next six months, they continue to make careful records of what they see and do, even when splitting into several groups across present-day Montana. Near disasters continue to stalk the mission, but they survive to reach St. Louis. On the way down the Missouri, they meet trappers and traders already moving west based on information sent to Jefferson from Fort Mandan. It has taken us 200 years to understand the many accomplishments of the Expedition and the legacies we share because of it. Still, more questions remain. The one national organization whose mission is keeping the flame alive is the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. See for details on how to join.

Bicentennial events in the Pacific Northwest: The Tamastsklikt Cultural Institute operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation hosts the last Oregon visit by the National Park Service Corps of Discovery II Traveling Exhibition April 29-May 7. The museum (exit 216, I-84) provides traditional exhibits as well as an outdoor living history program to demonstrate tribal life then and now.

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Special thanks to Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation members, particularly historian Barb Kubik, for assisting with this series. See To follow the story, click “200 Years Ago This Week” at Better yet, read the actual journal entries at For Bicentennial activities in Oregon, go to

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Educational Links About Lewis & Clark

  • Oregon History Project: created by the Oregon Historical Society.
  • National Park service’s Lewis and Clark web site. Find the latest information about Corps of Discovery II traveling exhibit; Lewis and Clark: Then and Now an interactive website with virtual field trips and video conferences; Lewis and Clark Gnet a Lewis and Clark website with a focus on education.
  • “ Discovering Lewis and Clark” a web-based partnership of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Trust for the Humanities and the Marco Polo Education Foundation. Go to the search button and type in Lewis and Clark for a wide variety of lesson plans.
  • Fort Clatsop National Memorial. Learn more about on-site activities for groups, training opportunities for teachers, video loan program, and the very popular traveling trunks program. This website also has great Lewis and Clark background information.
  • The National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration. This site includes information on American Indian Nations, Care for the land and water, travel the trail, and learn more about the journey. There is also a calendar of bicentennial events. The Bicentennial Exhibition section contains teacher guides and lesson plans. These multi-disciplinary curriculums for grades 4-12 offer’s a new perspective on the Corps of Discovery’s western exploration. Click on Maps of the Journey to explore a variety of maps that outline the path of Lewis and Clark.
  • Go west across America with Lewis and Clark.
  • An excellent educational web site. Great background information!
  • Lists 47 tribes who had contact with the expedition. 4 classroom guides PDFs for GSI in the classroom.
  • An enormous list of web sites related to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • This site is on all things musical in relation to the expedition.
  • Internet content for the classroom. Offer free K-12 standard based lesson plans. Search for Lewis and Clark. Xpeditions-geography has a new Lewis and Clark activity.
  • The Pacific County Friends of Lewis and Clark-18 days in Pacific County, Washington
  • Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation
  • Washington and Oregon’s bicentennial commemoration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Check out their Junior Corps of Discovery Program.
  • The Oregon Historical Society will be hosting a national tour of artifacts associated with Lewis and Clark, as well as, many other educational opportunities.
  • The Maryhill Museum east of The Dalles offers teacher institutes, special exhibits and programs on Lewis and Clark. The museum also has extensive NW Indian holdings.
  • Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory in Portland has profiled several Oregon teachers whose students updated interesting topics from the Lewis and Clark Journals.
  • Profiles on tribes, plants and animals.
  • Lewis and Clark College is offering excellent summaries of the journals and other sources during the next couple of years. Teachers are invited to suggest lesson ideas for each week.
  • One of the best emerging sites on tribes that Lewis and Clark met.
  • Tribally-approved oral histories passed down about the Corps of Discovery’s visit, as well as, summaries of tribal histories.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service offers a trunk of resources about the large Cathlapotle (Chinook) village on the Columbia River visited twice by the Corps of Discovery.
  • The Oregon National Guard has done over 150 presentations to over 14,000 participants in schools and organizations all over the state of Oregon. To find out more, about these free presentations, visit
  • online activities for teachers.

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