Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for L Blogs (Feature Friday) & Lewis & Clark Expedition

Before we get started, I wanted to pay some props to the Pikes Peak Library District, here in Colorado Springs. They put on great programming, and are wonderful in their support of local authors, putting on programs like this weekend's Mountain of Authors. It's National Library Week; have you visited your library lately?

Today I'll share some "L" blogs with you!

Lady Reader's Bookstuff is full of book reviews, author interviews and giveaways.

Erica M. Chapman is a literary agent intern at L. Perkins Agency, and she blogs at Laugh.Write.Play. She does author interviews, as well as posting interesting information about writing.

Laura Barnes writes about writing and learning how to market herself, but she also does a Blog Critique day about author blogs over at Laura B Writer.

Lisa Ricard Claro writes at Writing in the Buff about...writing. However, she has a fun voice, and she posts microfiction each week.

And, of course, I can't leave out my fellow co-host and bloggie friend, Katrina, over at Life is Good. With a title like that, how can you not check it out? For the A-to-Z, she is teaching us Swedish!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster teaches us about Life on the Muskoka River. She is hysterical! You won't regret stopping by.

Over at Little Red Henry, Heather Henry shares her art and photography with us. That's right! This is not a writing blog! I do follow something other than writer's blogs.

I've recommended this site before, because it is fun and different, but I'm doing it again today. Maeve Frazier at LolliPop's Cottage posts children's book reviews accompanied by yummy recipes.

ewis & Clark Expedition

In May 1804, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on an expedition across the United States. He wanted a water route that would create an easier passage to Asia for trade. He also wanted an accounting of what resources he had gained with the Louisiana Purchase, and to establish trade with the Natives, paving the way for sovereignty over them. In addition, some sources say he wanted to establish the U.S. presence on the west coast before Europeans could do so, thus making it easier to take over that territory.

In other words, there was a lot hanging on this journey.

Their group was called the Corps of Discovery, with Lewis as its leader. He chose Clark as his second. The two of them were veterans of the Indian Wars, Lewis having been a captain in the U.S. Army. They were supplied with cartography equipment, as well as many weapons and specially made coins meant as Indian Peace Medals. They had plenty of safety equipment, such as medications, and gifts for those they might meet.

Thirty-three people left Illinois Territory on May 14, 1804, heading to Missouri, where they would begin their trek along the Missouri River into the west. They lost their first member to appendicitis on August 20 in Iowa, Sergeant Charles Boyd.

Many Native tribes gave them aid through their travels. The only tribe they found trouble with were the Sioux. Things became tense between them, and the travelers built Fort Mandan in North Dakota to stay safe. This was in the winter. They continued north-west along the river, which is where they met a fur trapper and his fifteen-year old Shoshone wife, Sacagawea, who would continue on their journey with them, acting as a translator and helping with diplomacy when approaching Natives. It is said that she was not, in fact, their guide.

From this point on, they took canoes via several rivers, including the Snake and Columbia, ending up just past Portland, Oregon. They built Fort Clatsop near Astoria, OR to make it through their second winter, allowing both Sacagawea and an accompanying slave, York, to have a vote in where to put the fort, which was rather unheard of at the time.

They began the journey home March 23, 1806, splitting up July 3 to do further exploration. Both ran into Natives, with Lewis's group killing two Blackfeet during a struggle over weapons.

They reunited on August 11, Lewis having been injured when a member of his party shot him, thinking he was an elk. They arrived back in Missouri on September 23, 1806, having successfully mapped a passage to the west coast and made friendly contact with many tribes (as well as a couple bouts of not-so-friendly contact). They brought back journals full of data on indigenous lands, plants, minerals and other resources. Unknown to the Natives they had encountered, the Doctrine of Discovery meant that the medals, gifts and flags they had left behind in Indian Territory meant they could ultimately claim title to their lands. Rather unfair when the Doctrine of Discovery means diddly squat to the folks currently living on that land.

Their expedition was considered a success, though they had also been expected to find the Northwest Passage, which they failed to do. Lewis was made governor of Louisiana Territory upon their return, and Clark was promoted within the military and made a Superintendent of Indian Affairs. On October 11, 1809, three years after the expedition, Lewis died; he was 35. The true cause of his death is a mystery. He was staying at an inn near Nashville as he journeyed to Washington, D.C. to resolve some issues of non-payment. Shots were heard, and Lewis was discovered in his room, bloodied, with a portion of his skull missing. The official coroner's report said he was murdered, while some officials said it was suicide. His descendants called for the exhumation of his body between the years of 1993 and 2010, but after many back and forth court battles, were told it would not happen.

Clark lived quite a bit longer, dying September 1, 1838, age 68, in St. Louis, Missouri. His life after the expedition was marked by his involvement with Jackson's Indian Removal Policy. It is said he tried to maintain peaceful relations with the Natives, but he was also a seasoned Indian fighter and did not hesitate to fight, including in the Black Hawk War, where he issued an extermination order.

Sacagawea has two possible death stories. It is known that Clark convinced her, her husband, and the son she had birthed on the expedition, to accompany them back to Missouri. She birthed a daughter, who, it is believed, died in childhood. The whites say that Sacagawea died of a fever on December 20, 1812. On August 11, 1813, Clark officially adopted her ten year old son and one year old daughter.

Native oral tradition gives another story of her death. It is said she left her French-Canadian husband and married a Comanche. She then is said to have traveled back to the Shoshone people and lived until April 9, 1884. This woman was known as Povio, and told of a long journey where she helped white men get to the Pacific Ocean. Porivio had in her possession an Indian Peace Medal, like the ones given out by Lewis and Clark on their expedition.

Two mysteries wrapped up in one story!

For an interesting educational resource, see the National Geographic site on Lewis and Clark.

What do you think? Murder or suicide? Did Sacagawea die an early death in Missouri, or live to a great age, having left her two children behind to return to her Native roots?

May you find your Muse.

*Letter L by OCAL at
**Dual photos of Lewis and Clark, == Summary == Lewis and Clark. Made from the images at [] and []. == Licensing == {{PD-self}} Uploaded from :, by User Urban, Wikimedia Commons
***Expedition Map, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license., Wikimedia Commons
****Painting Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia (28 × 24 in (71.1 × 61 cm)) by Charles Marion Russell; Opaque and transparent watercolor over graphite underdrawing on paper, 1905, Charles Marion Russell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Rebecca said...

see everytime i've stopped by during this challenge i've learned something new

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cathy IS hysterical!

Libby said...

Maybe I'm a terrible person, but even though it IS extremely intriguing whether he killed himself or was murdered, I can't believe his family put the state through the expense of trials and wanted them to pay to exhume and examine the body (I'm making the assumption they didn't offer to pay themselves.) I feel like that money could be better spent in other areas.

A Beer for the Shower said...

I loved Little Red Henry's photos. Thanks so much for sharing the links!

Nicole @ The Daily Dish said...

I love all things Lewis and Clark as my hometown was the final embarkation point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. My kids are in the L&C Fife & Drum corps. here where we keep that part of history alive. I loved this post including the interesting questions you have posed. ;)

Catherine Stine said...

Wow, what an historical soap opera! And I thought I knew pretty much everything about the expedition. I say it was murder.

Gossip_Grl said...

Great posting loved reading the story about them.

carol said...

History can be so fascinating. I just wish teacher in high school could make it more interesting, maybe I would have learned to love it.

carol said...

History can be so fascinating. I just wish teacher in high school could make it more interesting, maybe I would have learned to love it.

Nancy Thompson said...

Hey Shannon, I'm a new follower via the A to Z. I know Heather, Cathy, & Laura. I'll have to go check out the others. As for Lewis and Clark, I live in Western Washington, so we are big on them since their expedition ended hereabout.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm just having my students start researching early explorers of Canada - such a fascinating era!

Andrew Leon said...

Well... she's much more exciting in that movie at the museum. :P

Beth Camp said...

My hope is that Sacajawea lived a long life and well. The rumor of murder makes her ending so tidy by white standards. I would wonder why it took so long for Clark to adopt her two children. Would she leave them? For me, more research is needed. From what is here, I tend to trust the oral tradition. But you given us both mystery and a lovely list of links!

Arlee Bird said...

That was a heavy duty post. Lots of good links. The story of L & C is one of the great American adventures and a truly amazing feat. Nice post.

A Few Words
An A to Z Co-host blog

Anonymous said...

I always loved the Lewis & Clark adventure story. I hadn't heard the mystery of Sacagawea's death either. I find that it is really hard to tell back then. Death was so much more common. I feel like both sides of the story play a role for the people telling it and the story is almost more important than the truth.

xoxo Lloralye @ Adorning Schemes A to Z

Unknown said...

I love this post! I'm from St. Louis so grew up with this lore, and it's always fun to read more about it.

If you've the time, pop over to my blog. I'm the award winning author of the Bella and Britt series for kids.

Thanks for posting!

ShannonW said...

I am always looking for new blogs to check out. Thanks for posting this list and thanks for visiting.

50 foot QE said...

Whenever I teach 4th grade geography I am always excited about doing Lewis and Clark. I think it is a school teacher's dream. So much to chew on!

Great post! Glad to hear the other story of Sacahgawaya.

Leslie S. Rose said...

Lewis and Clark are one of my favorite pieces of history to teach in 5th grade. Have you seen the fabulous Ken Burns documentary on the Corps of Discovery? I think Sacagawea lived out her life. She was one smart cookie.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Becca, that's awesome to hear!

Alex, she is, isn't she?

Libby, that's a good point. I think if people want to look further into something like that, they have to be responsible for the costs.

ABftS, good, I'm happy to!

Nicole, that is so cool! I love the various ways we keep history alive.

Catherine, I keep learning more and more with each thing I look into. So fun!

Gossip_Grl, thanks!

Carol, true. A lot of what we learn in school is tainted by the teacher's feelings on it. I had some really great history teachers and some who obviously wanted to be teaching other things. I've remembered more from those eager, interesting teachers.

Nancy, very cool! My cousin lives in Seattle, a recent transplant from Portland, OR. And I've got friends spread along the west.

Jemi, it really is an interesting era. I can't help but imagine what it would have been like to be discovering everything new.

Andrew, haha! Well, you know, who wouldn't be?

Beth, I don't want her to have died young, but then I wonder how someone could abandon their kids? Then again, the life provided them in white society at that time would have been so much better, fewer fears about what might be.

Lee, I like that, definitely one of the great adventures. And we all love an adventure!

Lloralye, I think you're right about the story being more important to people. There were so many possible causes of death, early deaths, etc.

Nancy, I bet you have more interesting factoids about it that I missed!

Shannon, glad I could help! I hope you like the blogs.

50 Foot, I'm betting that joy of teaching it comes through for the kids, too. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Leslie, I haven't seen that, but I bet it's interesting. She was definitely intelligent, and I imagine that whatever happened, and whatever the reason, she did what she thought was best.