September 23, 1806 — Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned today to St. Louis, MO from their trek to the Pacific Northwest. They brought back a wealth of information about the largely unexplored region, as well as US claims to Oregon Territory.
The “Corps of Discovery” set off more than two years before on on May 14 1804 to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the duo — his private secretary (Lewis) and Clark (an army captain). With them were 28 men and one woman—Native American Sacagawea.
According to History.com: “The expedition traveled up the Missouri River in six canoes and two longboats and wintered in Dakota before crossing into Montana, where they first saw the Rocky Mountains. On the other side of the Continental Divide, they were met by Sacagawea’s tribe, the Shoshone Indians, who sold them horses for their journey down through the Bitterroot Mountains. After passing through the dangerous rapids of the Clearwater and Snake rivers in canoes, the explorers reached the calm of the Columbia River, which led them to the sea. On November 8, 1805, the expedition arrived at the Pacific Ocean, the first European explorers to do so by an overland route from the east. After pausing there for winter, the explorers began their long journey back to St. Louis.”
Words of Wisdom for September 23, 2016
“Our camp is precisely on the spot that the Snake Indians were encamped at the time the Minnetares of the Knife River first came in sight of them five years since. From hence they retreated about three miles up Jefferson’s River and concealed themselves in the woods, the Minnetares pursued, attacked them, killed 4 men, 4 women, a number of boys, and made prisoners of all the females and four boys, Sacajawea was one of the female prisoners. I cannot discover that she shows any emotion of sorrow in recollecting this event, or of joy in being restored to her native country; if she has enough to eat and a few trinkets to wear I believe she would be perfectly content anywhere.”
— Sacagawea, portrait of the young woman, by Marie Antoinette