Honoring Tribal Legacies

Painting of a River
1. Multiple perspectives are crucial to understanding the Lewis and Clark expedition. The bicentennial commemoration of the 1804-1806 journey researched the expedition from all vantage points and welcomed indigenous interpretations of it. What European Americans considered a journey of “discovery” represented for some Native people a loss of land, water, wildlife, cultural ways, and human life itself. HTL’s first volume even includes a chapter on the methods and stakes of doing history and exploring memory.

2. Parks can reveal the processes and biases of our cultural geography. Preserving the Corps of Discovery’s route West, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail helps visitors and HTL users alike understand how the U.S. mapped the West, translating—and often erasing—indigenous names and meanings from the landscape. HTL has lessons on maps, names, and legacies, that together reclaim indigenous connections to physical geography and cultural values.

3. Parks recognize what has—and has not—been remembered. Lewis and Clark’s expedition has intrigued American scholarship and imagination since it embarked. HTL does the important work of highlighting how the Corps of Discovery’s legacy has obscured the past of indigenous peoples, and the curriculum works to bring the two histories together. By addressing this selective memory, HTL brings us closer to a more holistic memory of the West.

4. History enriches other fields of education. HTL takes an interdisciplinary approach to its curricula. For example, Discovering Our Relationship with Water uses historical maps of Lewis and Clark’s journey alongside scientific concepts and exercises to teach students about relationships with water, perceived both as a biological resource and sacred, living entity by American Indians.

5. Successful digital projects consider sustainability and access. HTL makes its two-volume handbook and seven demonstration curricula available online. They’re stored as PDFs on a clean, central website providing an easily accessible resource for educators across the web. The project also builds upon “Tribal Legacy,” a digital humanities project working to incorporate American Indian voices into the historical narrative of Lewis and Clark.

Explore these projects at:

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Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Last updated: March 6, 2020