Meriwhether Lewis and William Clark explored the western United States. The two men had no idea what to expect. They thought they would find erupting volcanoes, woolly mammoths and a mountain of pure salt. Much to their surprise they found many different things. They discovered over 300 new species to science; they came across 50 different Native American tribes. They even found the great Rocky Mountains.
It took Lewis and Clark almost a whole year to plan their journey toward the west. On May 24, the journey began. Lewis, Clark and almost four dozen men made their way up the Missouri river on a keelboat. Lewis spent most of his time charting their course and making maps, while Clark spent his time on the shore examining animal and plant life. The team traveled only 12-14 miles in a day.
They met Indians (Native Americans) as they traveled. Some of the tribes that they came in contact with were the Lakota, Omahas, Yankton Sioux, and the Missouris. Lewis and Clark met with the tribes’ leaders and made trade offerings and peace offerings. They spoke to the leaders about the white settlers and urged them to try and get along. They told them that President Thomas Jefferson was a good man and a good leader. The only tribe that became violent was the Lakota Indians.
With winter approaching, the team decided to set up camp. They settle in with the Mandans tribe, who lived near the shores of the Missouri River. The tribe had a population of 4,500 people living in several different villages; these people were known for their kindness.
Lewis and Clark hired a fur trader who had an Indian wife. She was from the Shoshone tribe, and her name was Sacagawea. They realized that Sacagawea would be a big help to them. She already knew the land, and she could translate the language of her people. She took them to her village where she was able to get the team horses and supplies to help with their journey. She led them along, helped them track and to communicate with others, and helped them make their way over the mountains in Montana. Together they discovered herds of buffalo, grizzly bears, wolves and big horn sheep.
Soon they came across the Nez Perce Indians. The Nez Perce took them in. They gave them food, supplies and helped make canoes. They even agreed to take care of their horses, so they left their horses and took canoes and journeyed across three different rivers until they finally reached the Pacific Ocean. They reached the ocean nearly a year and a half after leaving their starting point in St. Lewis. They built Fort Clatsop and stayed there for the winter, while they planned their long journey back east.
On March 23, 1806 the team headed back the way they came. They found their horses well taken care of by the Nez Perce. They continued on east, but decided to split ways in order to better explore the territory. Three months after splitting up the teams rejoined at the Missouri River. They traveled quickly back down the river and returned in St. Louis on September 23, 1806. They were met with a crowd, and were considered heroes.
Lewis and Clark contributed a lot to the history and future of the United States. They helped expand U.S. territory. They brought back knowledge of many things, like plant and animal life. They learned much from the people they met, and the land and the rivers they traveled. Their travels also contributed to the mapping of the Northwest United States.
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