Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Nez Perce or How to Take a Broad Topic and Make it More Specific

Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Nez Perce or How to Take a Broad Topic and Make it More Specific

Author: Jason Symes

To learn more about the Lewis and Clark Expedition

To model the process of moving toward a more specific topic

To model the process of accessing credible resources both Primary and Secondary

Look at the relationship the Lewis and Clark Expedition had with one tribe in the Bitterroot Mountains that allowed the explorers to continues their trip.

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Lewis and Clark - An Overview

To start with you can find a site that does a nice job of giving an overview of your topic.  Upon reading this page I selected certain terms, names, details to look into further.


1.  What terms would you identify for closer study?



Sub Topic #1 - Scientific Instruments

My initial area of study was the scientific instruments that Lewis and Clark brought along on their journey.  The picture above is a picture of a sextant.

-Lewis and Clark used the sextant to measure the angular distance between the moon and sun or a star for longitude. They also used it for latitude when the sun's noon altitude was less than 60°.

Look at the site of scientific instruments.  Is there an instrument that looks the most interesting to you?  How do you think they managed to transport these instruments thousands of miles without damaging them?


Sub Topic #2 - The Nez Perce

After skimming the overview article I was interested in the encounters that the expedition had with many of the Native American tribes across the region.  Particularly I was interested in the Nez Perce, which directed me to this page that had four stories of interactions between the expedition and the Nez Perce.  Take a look and see which one of the stories might be the best lead for research.

In addition to the stories of Nez Perce interaction I found this site, loaded with Primary Source info, by the Library of Congress.  If you go 4/5 of the way down the page there is a description of a root known as camas that was fed to the members of the expedition by the Nez Perce at a time when the expedition was out of food and struggling.  

Look at the other primary sources on the page.  What looks interesting?



Learning More - Primary Source Material

I realized that I wanted to learn more about the relationship between the Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark, specifically about this food discovery of Camas.  

-To do this I went to Primary Source evidence in the form of the journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  They can be found HERE.  They are searchable by keyword, so I searched for Camas.  I also read that the initial contact with the tribe was on June, 11 of 1806, so I looked up that date in the records and here is a sample of what I found there.

I knew that I had some great information about the relationship, but wanted to dig deeper to seal my understanding.

Digging Deeper - Burnt Out Canoes, Nez Perce Style

I had also read that the Expedition needed canoes and learned a technique for making them from the Nez Perce.  Using the online journals again, I searched for the time period around Oct. 1 and for information on canoes.  I pieced together these notes to tell the stories of the men at a time of weakness and the progress they made in making their primary vehicles for the long trip back home.

Lewis and Clark Expedition and Burned Out Canoes




I was curious about the aftermath of the Expedition after learning about their relationships with the Nez Perce and while considering the Essential Question for our project I found two interesting sites.  The first is from the Library of Congress and details those that followed the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the effect they had on the nation.  

After Lewis and Clark

Finally, I wanted to know more about the Nez Perce and how they were living today.  I found this information HERE, its sad to say, but they have been forced to abandon many of their agricultural traditions for reasons out of their control.

I feel like these resources put me in a good position to have evidence to support my answer to the essential question.