Blackfeet Heritage Center & Art Gallery hosted a "Lewis and Clark" traveling exhibition from February 25th through April 10th, 2009.
BROWNING MONTANA - "Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country," a traveling exhibition which opened at the Blackfeet Heritage Center & Art Gallery on February 25, 2009 told the story of the explorers' historic 1804-1806 expedition from a different point of view-that of the Indians who lived along the route. During their journey to the Pacific Coast and back, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their small group of voyagers crossed the traditional homelands of more than 50 Native American tribes. The exhibit examines this monumental encounter of cultures and examines the past and present effects of that encounter on the lives of the tribes which still live in the region.
"What often gets lost in the story is that Lewis and Clark did not explore a wilderness-they traveled through an inhabited homeland," says Frederick E. Hoxie, the exhibit's curator and Swanlund Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "This expedition is part of the history of the native peoples the explorers met, and the exhibit offers us an opportunity to understand an Indian perspective on our shared American past."
The Blackfeet, Nez Perce, Umatilla, Mandan, and Walla Walla are just a few of the Native American nations encountered by Lewis and Clark in the nineteenth century who continue to live in the same area on greatly reduced tribal lands. These tribes are committed to carrying on the lifeways and values of their ancient cultures, and to upholding their languages and traditions. "We are still here," they often say.
"We are pleased to have been selected as a site for this exhibition," said Zola Sellars, Director, Blackfeet Heritage Center. "The story of the Lewis and Clark expedition is well known to most Americans, especially because of the recent bicentennial celebrations, but the Native American perspective on their voyage is not as well known. It is important to understand that although this great journey essentially opened American eyes to the West and encouraged national expansion, it also contributed to a dramatic change in the well-established cultures of the Indian tribes already living in the region."
In 1800, the Native American communities along the path of Lewis and Clark were thriving. Hunting, fishing, farming and commerce were the foundation for tribal prosperity. Indians provided vital assistance to the explorers-the Voyage of Discovery most likely would not have been the success it was without their aid. But by 1900, Native Americans found it almost impossible to maintain their traditional lifeways. Mining, homesteading, ranching and the fur trade had all undermined the centuries-old traditions of the Indian country. Smallpox decimated tribes and "Americanization" campaigns sought to suppress all aspects of traditional culture.
"Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country" draws upon original documents in the rich Native American collections of the Newberry Library, and in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, the Minnesota Historical Society and other institutions. Photographs of handwritten documents, maps, paintings and drawings provide a colorful background for the story of the encounter.
Organized by the Newberry Library, Chicago, in cooperation with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, "Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country" was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (HEH): great ideas brought to life. Additional support came from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Sara Lee Foundation is the lead corporate sponsor; Ruth C. Ruggles and the National Park Service also supported the exhibit.
The Blackfeet Heritage Center sponsored free programs and other events for the public in connection with the exhibition. Contact the Blackfeet Heritage Center at 406-338-5661 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. "Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country" was on display at the Blackfeet Heritage Center until April 10, 2009.
Instructed by President Jefferson, Lewis and Clark were to make friends and develop trade relations with Indians as well as collect scientific and military information about them. When Lewis and Clark traveled through Indian Country and encountered the Plains Indians on their journey, they provided the Tribes with a symbol of fellowship in the form of a Jefferson Indian Peace Medal, known as a peace medal from the clasped hands of friendship. Nearly 200 years later, the Blackfeet Nation in Montana continues this tradition and commemorates the expedition of Lewis and Clark by offering Blackfeet Commemorative Coins. These symbols recount the expedition of Lewis and Clark with the Blackfeet Indians in Montana and share in the heritage of the great Blackfeet Nation.
Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, where you can experience the incredible story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-06 with special speakers and costumed interpreters year-round and outdoor programs each summer on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River in Great Falls, Montana.
Explore! The Big Sky was the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Signature Event held in Fort Benton and Great Falls, Montana from June 1 – July 4, 2005, commemorating Lewis and Clark's Expedition and the Plains Indians they encountered.
"Clark on the Yellowstone" was a National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Signature Event that took place in Billings, Montana from July 22 - 25, 2006, honoring the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Pompeys Pillar National Monument is located thirty-five miles east of Billings, Montana, off Interstate 94. Captain William Clark signed his name on the sandstone cliff that makes up the Pillar on July 25, 1806. His signature is the only remaining evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which appears on the trail today as it did 200 years ago.
Montana ranks highest as the state with the most miles of the Lewis & Clark Historical Trail.
"Lewis & Clark in Blackfeet Country"