Lewis and Clark: the Imperialist of America, 1803 - 1806

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, United States, Lewis and Clark Expedition Pages: 7 (2517 words) Published: March 27, 2006
Lewis and Clark: the Imperialist of America, 1803 -1806

The Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803 to 1806, was a very important adventure, which had significant bearings on the whole of the American nation; declaring American sovereignty in the West, advancing American trade, and promoting peace between Indian tribes, while attempting to establish a peaceful and profitable relationship with the Native Americans. Thus, Lewis and Clark are viewed as ¡§brave adventurers who went where no one had gone before and explored and conquered the wilderness for the betterment of America.¡¨ (Miller)

The Lewis and Clark expedition was an exceptional journey that had a significant impact on the American nation in terms of both geographical expansion and the cultural influence. The expedition was a profitable exploration intended to use the Mississippi River as a communication route and increasing the trade with the native Indians. President Thomas Jefferson organized a group to explore the previously uncharted territory and to discover a northwest route to the Pacific Ocean. In 1803 Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark¡¦s Corps of Discovery to find a water route to the Pacific and explore the uncharted West. He wanted to know what lay ahead, what they found have contributed greatly to the American society of today; some 300 species unknown to science, nearly 50 different Indian tribes, and the Rockies.

¡§A hundred years ago, Lewis and Clark were viewed as symbols of industrial expansion, overseas imperial trade and so on. Today they are multicultural diplomats and ecologists,¡¨ quotes Dr. Mark Spence. The historical process initiated by Lewis and Clark was by political incorporation. Promoting peace between the Native American tribes was a complex process for which Lewis and Clark were little prepared. The Lewis and Clark expedition came upon the American Natives long after complex and lengthy histories of intertribal warfare. The intricate trade network systems among the native tribes played an enormous role in the relative successes and failures of Lewis and Clark's inroads into Native American culture. Lewis and Clark knew little of the difficulties of trade among the tribes, including the demanding and difficult trade alliances between the Assiniboine and Mandan/Hidatsa, and the trade between the Arikara and Teton Sioux. At this point of their lengthy journey, Sacagawea was a valuable member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, as a teenager, she served the expedition as interpreter, diplomat, and peace symbol. Sacagawea was a Shoshone Indian but kidnapped by Hidatsa warriors when she was twelve years old, this unfortunate incident for Sacagawea led to an exciting adventure which includes no other than Lewis and Clark. During the expedition, Sacagawea and her infant son, Little Pomp were seen as symbols of peace and protected the Expedition from Indian attacks. Indians may have thought the Corps of Discovery were a war party. However, war parties did not travel with women or children, from a distance, the presence of Sacagawea and Little Pomp signaled to the Indians the Expedition was a peaceful party. Sacagawea also had knowledge of many Native American languages, customs, and tribes. She helped the Expedition by translating and negotiating at important Indian councils, in establishing trade and setting up alliance with the various Indian tribes in the West; thus greatly were Lewis and Clark forever indebted to her for her service in establishing American peace relations with the Indians. Historian Bernard DeVoto stated that "the dispatch of the Lewis and Clark expedition was an act of imperial policy." This imperialism was directed at the Indians and tribes that inhabited the Pacific Northwest and the Louisiana Territory in order to establish American trade and sovereignty. The Lewis and Clark expedition was primarily concerned with Indian affairs from the beginning of the journey. In January 1803,...
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