Term Paper: Lewis and Clarke Expedition

Pages: 8 (2214 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Native Americans  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Horse were very widely by the Shoshoni tribes as it was important for transportation especially in the rough terrain's of the Rocky Mountains. The Hidatsas were the main rivals of the Shoshone tribes and in the clashes that occurred women were often taken away as prisoners. But the tribes treated these captured women with high respect and married them. Lewis wrote of these tribes "Notwithstanding their extreme poverty they are not only cheerful but even gay, fond of gaudy dress and amusements..."[PBS]

Women in the Indian tribes

The Native Indian communities were a very closely-knit unit and women had an active roll in the groups. They looked after their children and the farming activities. Polygamy was a common practice with the Native Indians. [Barbara Fielder] However women were treated with respect within the groups. In the Sioux community the women were an active part of the skin trade. (They made dresses out of buffalo skins). Their status within the group depended on their skill. Farming, Beadwork and Quilling were some of the important traditional occupations for the women. Tribal clashes were frequent and very common within the native Indian communities and it was a common practice for one tribe to indicate its superiority by taking away the women of the other tribe. These women however were treated with respected and married by the men in the new community. For example Sacagawea, one of the key member of the expedition was a Hidatsa girl who was taken away by the Shoshone men after a tribal clash. Though we see the prevalence of Polygamy within the majority of the native Indian community (Assiniboine, Shoshone, Sioux, etc.) [Richard L. Dieterle] we notice that women were not simply treated as possessions but respected and cared for. They were not just relegated to the role of homemakers but played an active role in trading activities. (Quilling, beadwork, farming, etc.).

The Scientific Importance

The team discovered around 120 species of birds, mammals and reptiles and more than 180 species of plants. Although he had no formal botanical background Lewis was trained by Benjamin Smith Barton, a Naturalist at the university of Pennsylvania on president Jefferson's request. Maclura aurantiaca,. Rosa woodsii, Artemisia longifolia were some of the plant species discovered by Lewis. Similarly "Dama virginianus macroura" the white tailed deer, Canis lupus nubilus (the Grey wolf), Pituophis sayi (The bull snake) were some of the animal species discovered and documented by the 'Lewis and Clarke' Expedition. [Jefferson National Expansion Memorial]


The 'Lewis and Clarke expedition' bought about a remarkable change in the American nation. This expedition was the pathfinder for the American frontier expansion that resulted in a single unified nation whose boundary extended from the Atlantic Ocean on the on side to the Pacific Ocean on the other. However the western expansion was not without its drawbacks. The exploration and the settlements that followed it had a drastic impact on the culture of the native Indian communities, who lived there for centuries. For this reason the expedition is viewed as the 'beginning of the end' of the native culture. In conclusion we can say that the 'Lewis and Clarke' expedition is an unparalleled one in the annals of American history, one that not only altered the fortunes of the American nation but also drastically changed the lives of the Native Indians.


Designed by PBS media Inc., "How did Lewis and Clarke Deal with the Indians they Encountered," Accessed on April 4th, 2003, http://www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/living/6.html

2) Barbara Fielder, "Plains Indians" 'Polygamy', Accessed on April 4th 2003, http://www.stpaulswgl.vic.edu.au/Depts/plains%20indians/Html/family.htm

Richard L. Dieterle, "Encyclopedia of Hotcak,"

Glossary of Indian Nations," Accessed on April 4th 2003, http://hotcakencyclopedia.com/ho.GlossaryIndianNations.html.[Polygamy]

Heritage Foundation, "History of Lewis and Clarke Expedition," Accessed on April 4th 2003, http://www.lewisandclark.org/history7.htm

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial," "The Science of Lewis and Clarke

Expedition," Accessed on April 4th 2003, http://www.nps.gov/jeff/LewisClark2/TheJourney/ScienceofExpedition.htm

6) University of Virginia, "William Clarke" "A Map of part of the Continent of North America" Accessed on April 4th 2003, http://www.lib.virginia.edu/speccol/exhibits/lewis_clark/exploring/ch4-32.html

7) Designed by PBS Media Inc., "The Native Americans," Accessed on April 4th, 2003, http://www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/native/index.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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