Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country
“Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country,” a national traveling exhibition coming to the University of Minnesota Duluth Library January 4 - February 25, 2010, tells the story of the explorers’ historic 1804–1806 expedition from the point of view of the Indians who lived along the route. The exhibit will be free and open to the public, on display in the library’s fourth floor rotunda reading room.
A traditional opening ceremony on Friday, January 15, will include drumming, prayer, and welcome statements by guests and UMD Library Director Bill Sozansky in UMD's Weber Music Hall, followed by a reception and viewing of the exhibit in the fourth floor of the UMD Library. Refreshments will be provided by Friends of the Duluth Public Library.
The Newberry Library, Chicago, and the American Library Association organized the exhibit with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Sara Lee Foundation, Ruth C. Ruggles and the National Park Service.
Docent guided tours are available for groups, including an introduction to the exhibition and printed handouts. Call 218-726-8130 or visit http://libguides.d.umn.edu/lewisandclark for more information. All events are free and open to the public.
The UMD Library was selected as one of 27 sites for this six-year national traveling exhibition. 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 the past and present effects of that encounter on the lives of the tribes still living 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 story of the Lewis and Clark expedition is well known to most Americans, but the Native American perspective is not as well known. 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 foundations 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.
A related UMD Library in-house exhibit presents information on the history of local Indian country. Selected Great Lakes regional maps show northeast Minnesota in a larger context. Photographs from the Library's Northeast Minnesota Historical Center archives depict area Ojibwe individuals, families, and homes from the communities of Grand Marais, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, and Duluth.
Friday, January 15: Opening Ceremony
Thursday, January 28: Avoiding Discovery: Lewis and Clark from a Minnesota Point of View
Thursday, February 11: Faculty Panel Discussion
Sponsors and Project Origins
“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. 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 (NEH): 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.