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Lewis and Clark expediation - Essay Example

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The expedition, which was also aimed at discovering natural resources and a transcontinental path saw a team of more than forty men…
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Lewis and Clark Expedition Institution:
Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Lewis and Clark Expedition was commissioned by the then President Jefferson with a view to survey the territories found at the northwest. The expedition, which was also aimed at discovering natural resources and a transcontinental path saw a team of more than forty men transverse the regions from the Missouri River through the Rocky Mountains before reaching the Pacific Ocean through the Columbia River. The discovery team then moved back to St. Louis, having acquired immense knowledge on Native Americans and the geography of their land. Throughout the expedition, Native Americans’ land was viewed as a mere continuation of American territory, with the Americans seeking to enlarge their territory by acquiring the Native Americans’ land. However, the Native Americans were primarily not objective towards the expedition seeing it as a way of enhancing trade relations with America, thereby increasing their access to commodities. Most Native groups cooperated with the discovery team by serving as the latter’s interpreters and guides, for instance, the Lewis and Clark led expedition include the Mandans, who grew corn on their land and resided in earth lodges. This group of natives agreed to trade with America and assisted the discovery team in finding food, accommodation and provided protection to the team. In addition, other groups of cooperative natives were the Sioux, the Hidatsa, the Chinook, Shoshone and the Arikara. All these groups had a positive impact on the success of the expedition and assisted the discovery team in creating rapport with other groups (DeVoto, 1953, 29).
One of the most notable Native American who assisted the expedition team was Sacajawea, wife to one of the hired Natives. Sacajawea played a key role in maintaining amiable relations between the team and other Native groups. However, there were some Native American groups that were not quite cooperative and who sought to have the discovery team expelled from their land through all necessary means, including warfare (Neuberger, 1962, 15). For instance, the Piegan Blackfoot warriors, whom the expedition team encountered at the Marias River. The expedition team was forced to retreat from the Piegan’s land for fear of attack when the Native group attempted to forcefully acquire the team’s weapons.
The Lewis and Clark expedition had a major effect on the U.S policy towards Native Americans. U.S considered Native Americans in two conflicting ways that are Native Americans were either United States’ enemies during war, or they were U.S partners in peace. The U.S policy was to bring enlightenment into Native American communities. The U.S considered Native Americans as equals to Americans, both in body and mind. However, their surroundings needed a complete transformation. According to President Jefferson, Native Americans’ style of life is what differentiated them from Americans hence by improving their living, and agricultural practices, Native Americans would move from being salvages to become civilized. Native Americans were, generally, acceptable to this policy, seeking to become part of the larger American community. They, therefore, adopted the proposed changes into their livelihood, adopting aspects of European culture into their lives. They switched from a nomadic lifestyle and settled in villages and towns. According tp Jefferson, bringing civilization to Native Americans transformed them to complete Americans. However, this move was predominantly adopted by groups that had previously cooperated with the team of expeditors. Hostile Natives maintained their traditional lifestyles, dismissing civilization as a form of imperialism (Thwaites, 2001, 32).
 DeVoto, B. 1953. The Journals of Lewis and Clark. NY: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 29
Neuberger, R. L. 1962. The Lewis and Clark Expedition. US: Landmark Books, 15.
Thwaites, R. G. 2001. Original journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Digital Scanning Inc, 5 (1-2). Read More
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