200 Years Of Lewis And Clark!
The Lewis and Clark Expedition treated Indians as many White men treat Indians, like little children - not paying attention when they speak. There’s a premise among many white men, the darker the skin the dumber a person is. There’s also a suspicion, if you speak English with an accent you probably think with an accent as well
Let me concentrate on the tribe who offered the greatest assistance to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. What’s become known as the Lemhi-Shoshone Tribe, [Sacajawea’s people?] who were the salvation of an ill planned crossing of the Bitter Root Mountains of Idaho.
This coming August the city of Salmon, Idaho will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition appointed to find the Pacific Ocean. Much has made of honoring the Lewis and Clark Expiation. Little has been written of the participation by Indians.
What part will Indians have in the celebration? Very little, I’m told, with the exception of Sacagawea’s memory being exploited. Will Shoshone elders, be allowed to speak to the white audience of their version of the exploits of Lewis and Clark? And tell them of Chief Camehwait, Old Toby, Chief Washakie, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perse, the Lemhi Trail of Tears?
Will the White leaders of the festival allow the elders to tell of the life saving assistance given by All Shoshone Tribes to all white men crossing their lands? Will the stories of cooperation by Indians with White men, the Mountain men, the Trappers, Lewis and Clark, the Pioneers crossing to Oregon and California, to the Mormons who settled in their lands.
Eventually, moving Indians out of their ancestral homelands to unfamiliar places, some other tribes moved halfway across the country with promises of better days to come. The Lemhi moved a few hundred miles to the Fort Hall Reservation, at the behest of the government and a promise of better times to come.
How many Lemhi Shoshone will speak to the visitors from the dais. Or will the Lemhi, be relegated to wearing feathered headdresses, beaded buckskins and dancing to amuse the white crowds? Who will represent the Indians at the festivities in Salmon Idaho as white men shower praise on the least deserving of the expedition, Lewis and Clark?
Had Lewis and Clerk listened to their Indian scouts they would have followed age-old trails that interconnected from Bangor Maine to Astoria Oregon. [An Indian Rand McNally Atlas.] Contrary to what history and Hollywood tells us about the Plains Indians, they were not barbaric. No more or no less than the white invaders who came to steal their lands. Those who write history, not by those who make history, determine history.
Most of what we know of Sacajawea came from the returning expeditions members who told her story in the water front saloons in St Lewis. It’s doubtful she would have been considered a heroine by her people at that time. She didn’t stay with them and continued on with the expedition. Sacajawea was captured and held in slavery, [sound familiar]. Sacajawea was sold to a French trapper for a wife, [sound familiar]. Sacajawea was dragged across country by a group of ill-mannered, ill-tempered ruffians, [sound familiar]. When the expedition was over Sacajawea returned to Fort Mandan to live her last few years in poverty with her inept French trapper husband, [sound familiar]?
For as long as the waters flow, the grass grows, and the wind blows this land will forever be yours, [Anyone heard that line before?] Since the Dutch conned the Indians out of Manhattan Island for a hand full of colored beads, White men have been making and breaking treaties with the Indian.
Had the Indian understood what was in the treaty would they have agreed to them, probably not? The treaties where explained to the tribes by Indian interpreters working for the white government, they didn’t understand what the treaties were about anymore than the Indians who signed them promising Indians things that were never meant to be.
All Indians have ever wanted is for white people to know they have a history. Lewis and Clark discovered nothing Indians hadn’t been using for generations. Indians deserve equal credit for Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Indians built boats and rowed them thought the streams navigating rapids white men were incapable of traversing.
Indians knew the trails and streams the expeditions followed. Indians knew the roots and berries necessary to sustain the Whiteman’s diets. For all of the Indian’s contributions, only one, young, teenage Indian girl is to be recognized in the history books as having taken part in the Lewis and Clark expedition. This is a poor commentary for those who write history books.
The Shoshone Nation once covered parts of the following states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, and Oregon. Today their reservations have been reduced to the size of a USDA food stamp.
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.
For news and information on Native American and First Nations actors, go to Annie's site at www.NativeCelebs.com and follow the threads.
The Conservative View by Ken Hughes: