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Today We Encountered the White Man
Background Information for Teachers

When our third president, Thomas Jefferson, lobbied Congress for money to explore the West the main reason he suggested was to seek what could be a lucrative trade with Native Americans. On this basis, he received $2, 500 dollars to help finance an expedition westward. The expedition, now known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, met over 50 different tribes on their 36-month journey of discovery. Who were these people? What were their various cultures and customs? And, how did Lewis and Clark interact with these different tribes? In this lesson, students actively engage with primary and secondary sources to answer some of these questions. Specifically, they will analyze an artifact (Jefferson Peace Medal) to learn about an aspect of the Corps interactions with various tribal leaders, work in small groups to conduct ethnographic research on a specific tribe encountered during the expedition, and finally, using their research, rewrite a Lewis or Clark journal entry describing their tribes" encounter from the perspective of a member of the tribe.

See the Lewis and Clark story and the markerMeriwether Lewis marker page for more information.

Web Sites

Discovering Lewis and Clark., A Jefferson Peace Medal

Good summary of the Jefferson Peace Medal.

PBS(Online), Lewis and Clark: The Native Americans.

An interactive map illustrating where various tribes were encountered which you can explore to find out more about the tribes themselves.

The Journals of Lewis and Clark, In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark.

Chronologically catalogued journals entries of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

The Journals of the Lewis and Clark, Lewis and Clark as Plains Ethnographers

Research on the culture and customs of different tribes the Lewis and Clark Corps met during their journey.

The Lewis and Clark Journey of Discovery, Corps Of Discovery- Preparing for the Trip West

A good description of Peace Medals with a table of when they were distributed on The Lewis and Clark Expedition.

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