Indigenous Geographic Knowledge and the Lewis and Clark Expedition
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This thesis examines the transfer of geographic knowledge from Indigenous peoples to the Lewis and Clark expedition between 1804 and 1806. Throughout the twenty-eight month long expedition, Lewis and Clark consistently relied upon Indigenous knowledge to learn about and navigate unfamiliar territory. On the outbound journey, this inquiry related mostly to pathfinding as the expedition sought the best route from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. For key stretches of this journey, Indigenous guides piloted the expedition and advised Lewis and Clark on the location and feasibility of nearby trails. On the return trip, Lewis and Clark expanded their focus and sought out geographic information from Indigenous knowledge keepers about regions well beyond the expedition’s route. Much of this information came in the form of Indigenous maps, which Clark, the expedition’s cartographer, incorporated into his maps of the region both during and following the expedition. In this way, Indigenous knowledge and guidance facilitated the progress of the Lewis and Clark expedition in its journey across western North America and contributed to the maps that Clark made depicting western regions previously unknown to Euro-Americans.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeCunfer, Geoff; Labelle Jr., Maurice; Bell, Scott; David, Mirela
Copyright DateJune 2022
Lewis and Clark, HGIS, Indigenous History, mapping, exploration, Mandan-Hidatsa, Nimiipuu, Chinookan, Western American History