The Missouri River Valley, from its mouth at St. Louis to its Montana headwaters, will fill with travelers in 2004 as tourists and history buffs retrace the steps of U.S. Army captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their Corps of Discovery on the 200th anniversary of the epic journey.
Events, ranging from grandiose and officially sanctioned national signature events to small, community-based productions, will entertain and inform visitors. Although signature events will be the focal points, locally sponsored affairs should not be overlooked. The upstream progression of events mirrors the Lewis and Clark Expedition's advance up the Missouri 200 years ago, and makes it easy to attend several observances in one short trip. Nebraskans who live near the activities in 2004 can easily attend many events in a few outings this summer.
The highlight on Nebraska's stretch of the Lewis and Clark Trail will occur July 31 through August 3, when the eyes of the nation will focus on festivities at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park near the town of Fort Calhoun and in Omaha. These events will commemorate the Expedition's first council with the many tribes they encountered on their journey. Nebraska's Lewis and Clark bicentennial commemoration will be one of just seven signature events in 2004, and one of 15 through the 45 months of the national Lewis and Clark bicentennial observance.
These national signature events, which are sanctioned by the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, are special in scale and historical significance. Each signature event is intended to focus attention on a location where a facet of the Lewis and Clark story of national significance occurred, and to educate as many people as possible about that aspect of the Expedition.
The historical significance of events in the Fort Atkinson area 200 years ago is self-evident. "That first council with the native peoples of the newly purchased Louisiana territory, which took place at or very near the site of this signature event, was the fulfillment of one of President Thomas Jefferson's mandates to Lewis, Clark and their Corps of Discovery," said Jim Swenson, manager of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's eastern parks and executive director of the Nebraska Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission.
Achieving the appropriate scale of the signature event was the responsibility of Nebraska's bicentennial commission. The signature event's daytime activities take place at the "Corps of Discovery Festival," which will occupy 25 acres at the foot of the bluff where
The festival will include a large area devoted to Native American topics, and another with living historians interpreting a Lewis and Clark campsite and a fur trade rendezvous, plus a replica of the Lewis and Clark keelboat. Other areas will be devoted to demonstrations, storytelling, reenactments and hands-on activities. A large educational tent will feature historians, authors and lecturers of national repute as experts on Lewis and Clark and western history. They include Gary E. Moulton of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, editor of the 13-volume The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, authors James Ronda and Dayton Duncan, and lecturer Hal Stearns. "There's all kinds of activities for families at the festival, and admission is free," Swenson said.
More will be happening at Fort Atkinson SHP atop the bluff overlooking the festival, according to Swenson. The bluff's top, of course, was vacant when Lewis and Clark were there, but they recommended in their journals that a fort be built there someday. Sixteen years later, the U.S. Army built Fort Atkinson on the site, the nation's westernmost outpost for most of a decade. Living historians will re-create life as it was the 1820s at the fort, which has been reconstructed, ranging from military drill and cannon firing to the daily chores of blacksmiths, carpenters, gunsmiths and sutlers.
Other attractions include displays at the Harold Andersen Visitor Center, and a new sculpture garden of life-sized bronzes depicting that first tribal council. A state park entry permit is required at Fort Atkinson SHP.
The signature event's evening activities in Omaha will take place in Elmwood Park south of the University of Nebraska-Omaha's Weber Fine Arts Building. There, "First Tribal Council," a professionally written dramatization of the Expedition's first meeting with tribes of the Louisiana territory will be performed by the Nebraska Repertory Theater each night, along with a piano concerto created for the occasion by award-winning composer Philip Glass.
The First Annual All Nations Pow Wow, sponsored by the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, will take place across Dodge Street in Memorial Park during the signature event. The five days will include a traditional Indian market, reenactments, concerts, hands-on activities, native dance and drum exhibitions and photography and other exhibits.
A grand-opening dedication of the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center in Nebraska City will be held July 30. The new 12,000-square-foot facility on the west rim of the Missouri River Valley focuses on the more than 300 zoological and botanical discoveries of
The festivities at Fort Atkinson SHP and in Omaha, as well as the other national signature events of 2004, are the focal points of Lewis and Clark bicentennial activities for the year.
For each of these national signature events, dozens of smaller, locally significant observances will take place along the Lewis and Clark Trail. Two observances will take visitors to a series of destinations and events. The Shannon Trail involves a scavenger hunt of sorts and a search for local history in a dozen or more small northeastern Nebraska communities, and the Lewis and Clark Passport Education Program involves visits and educational opportunities at nine points of interest, including parks and interpretive centers, on both sides of the river.
The Shannon Trail is not so much about Lewis and Clark as it is about their youngest and least-experienced soldier, Private George Shannon. Eighteen years old at the time, Shannon became separated from a party looking for the Expedition's strayed horses near Wynot, Nebraska, on August 26, 1804. Shannon, thinking the boats had left without him, hurried upriver when, in fact, the main party had paused to arrange for a council with the Yankton Sioux. Sixteen days later and 145 miles upriver, the Expedition caught up with the nearly starved private.
Twelve chainsaw sculptures depict Shannon in the 16 communities on the Shannon Trail. Travelers who locate all 12 and obtain a "passport" stamp at each site earn a limited-edition print of Private Shannon. "A Tale of the Trail," a dramatization about Shannon's adventure, will be presented by the Shannon Trail organization at weekend celebrations in Verdigre, Crofton and Hartington. For information on the Shannon Trail and the performances, call (402) 667-6557.
Farther down the Missouri, in Nebraska and Iowa, the Lewis and Clark Passport Education Program features various demonstrations and activities each weekday morning and
There will be many single-destination events, among them living history activities and reenactments. Look for them at Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa, June 10-13 and again August 7-9, with the added attraction of replicas of Lewis and Clark's keelboat and two pirogues. Other events include the White Catfish Living History Weekend July 23-25 at the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, a living history encampment August 21-22 at the Sergeant Floyd Museum and Welcome Center in Sioux City, and a large gathering of living historians, Native American dancers and traders at Lake Yankton below Gavins Point Dam August 27-29.
These events are within easy reach of many Nebraskans, and those with an intense interest in Lewis and Clark should plan a visit to St. Louis. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, with the Gateway Arch and its excellent permanent and special exhibits, is a premiere attraction. The same is true of an exhibit of Lewis and Clark artifacts gathered from 40 collections across the country and on display at the Missouri Historical Society's museum until September 6. Following its debut in St. Louis, "Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition" will then go on a national tour through September, 2006. Two signature events in the St. Louis area in mid-May make that an attractive time for a visit.
Or, as an alternative to the crowds, traffic and fast pace of the city, consider Swenson's suggestion. "If you want to experience something that Lewis and Clark experienced, check out the Missouri National Recreational River the runs from Gavins Point Dam to Ponca. For westbound travelers, it's the first glimpse of the natural Missouri River that challenged Lewis and Clark for the first year-and-a-half of their westward adventure," he said. Swenson noted that Ponca State Park lies at the eastern edge of that piece of river and is the site of the new Missouri National Recreational River Resource and Educational Center, with a gallery of exhibits explaining both the natural and cultural history of that river. Including, of course, the Lewis and Clark Expedition.2004 Signature Events
Heart of America: A Journey Fourth - July 3-4, Kansas City, Missouri, and Atchison and Leavenworth, Kansas, commemorates the first Independence Day observance west of the Mississippi. Two blasts from the keelboat's cannon near present-day Atchison, Kansas, will represent the Expedition's festivities in 1804. The celebration features an air show, reading of the Declaration of Independence and fireworks displays over the Missouri River. The Kansas City area offers an extensive list of historical attractions, with commemorative activities lasting nearly three weeks, June 19-July 11. www.journey4th.org; (800) 858-1749
First Tribal Council - July 31-August 3, Fort Calhoun and Omaha, Nebraska. Fort Atkinson State Historical Park near Fort Calhoun is the site of Lewis and Clark's first council with native peoples, which will be dramatically re-created in evening performances in Omaha. A Lewis and Clark piano concerto by composer Philip Glass will be an integral part of evening performances. Daytime activities at Fort Atkinson SHP include living history demonstrations, American Indian cultural presentations, and interactive educational workshops. www.lewisandclarkne.org; (800) 228-4307
Oceti Sakowin Experience - August 27-September 26, Chamberlain and Oacoma, South Dakota. Commemorate the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota peoples. Travel the tribal lands and reservations of South Dakota and learn about American Indian experiences before, during and after the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The event kicks off August 27 in Chamberlain and Oacoma with the Native American Art Show and Auction. For event information, contact the Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates. www.attatribal.com or (605) 773-3301
Circle of Cultures - Time of Renewal and Exchange, October 22-31, Bismarck, North Dakota. This event celebrates the cordial welcome given the Lewis and Clark Expedition by the earthlodge peoples of the upper Missouri River and renews the bonds forged during the winter of 1804-05. Visitors will taste what the explorers tasted, see what they saw and hear what they heard. Circle of Cultures will showcase the thriving centuries-old trading "Mecca" of the northern Plains. Experience the high-tech Virtual Village of the Mandans at its unveiling. Enter replica earthlodges with Native American interpretation and demonstrations. Enjoy reenactors and scholars, including James P. Ronda, Clay Jenkinson, Tom Theissen, Dayton Duncan, Ray Wood, Amy Mossett and others. www.circleofcultures.com (800) 767-3555
2004 Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Events
Through July 31, Lewis and Clark tours, puppet shows, gallery walks, special programs, children's programs, lectures; weekends; some advance reservations and fees required; National Frontier Trails Museum, Independence, MO. (816) 325-7575
Through September 6, "Lewis & Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition," traveling exhibit of historic and ethnographic treasures, organized by Missouri Historical Society, debuts at the society's museum in St. Louis. (314) 454-3150
April 1-June 9, "Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West," large-format film, Lied Super Screen Theater at Hastings Museum. (800) 508-4629
April 1-August 29, "Plants of the Lewis and Clark Expedition" exhibit at Cass County Historical Museum. (402) 296-4770
May 1-Oct 10, Fossils of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, Royal, NE. (402) 893-2000
May 7-August 29, "Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains: The Natural History," exhibit at Great Plains Art Collection, 1155 Q St., Lincoln, NE. (402) 472-6220
May 8-August 29, "Lewis and Clark Celestial Navigation," Omaha Children's Museum, STARlab. (402) 342-6164
June 1, 2004-June 1, 2006, "The Voyage of Discovery's Dispatches: From the New America, 1803-1806," exhibit at Boys Town Visitor Center, Omaha, NE. (402) 498-1140
June 3-5, "The Nature of Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains," Center for Great Plains Studies annual symposium, fee and pre-registration required, Lied Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City, NE. (402) 472-3082
June 10-13, "Lewis and Clark Festival," reenactments, films, lectures, demonstrations, black powder shoot, Native American archery demonstration, replica keelboat and pirogues for viewing and rides, Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa, IA. (712) 423-2829
June 26-27, "Lewis and Clark Trad'n Days," Weston, MO. (888) 635-7457 o June 30, "George Drouillard: Hunter, Interpreter ... for Lewis and Clark," reenactment by Darrel Draper, free, 7 p.m., Wayne State College, Wayne, NE. (402) 375-3135
July 3-4, "Heart of America: A Journey Fourth," National Signature Event, Atchison and Fort Leavenworth, KS, and Kansas City, MO. (800) 858-1749
July 10-October 3,: "Rivers, Eden's Empires: Lewis and Clark and the Revealing of America," Library of Congress traveling exhibit at Joslyn Art Museum, 24th and Dodge, Omaha, NE. (402) 342-3300
July 9-13, "Great Plains Chautauqua," historical figures of the Lewis and Clark-era re-created, music, lectures, workshops; Homestead National Monument and Beatrice, NE. (402) 223-3514
July 16-18, "A Tale of the Trail," dramatization, ZCBJ Hall, Verdigre, NE. Contact (402) 667-6557
July 16-18, Shallow River Festival, Plattsmouth, NE (402) 296-6021 www.plattsmouthchamber.com
July 22-25, "A Tale of the Trail," dramatization, Crofton Auditorium, Crofton NE. Contact (402) 667-6557
July 23-25, "Lewis and Clark White Catfish Living History Weekend," living history encampment, American Indian dancers, storytellers, children's activities; Western Historic Trails Center, Council Bluffs, IA. (712) 366-4900
July 25-August 31, Lewis and Clark Art Exhibit, Washington County Museum, Fort Calhoun, NE. (402) 468-5740
July 27, "In the Footsteps of William Clark," Missouri River cruise, River City Star, Omaha, NE. (402) 455-9990
July 30, Grand opening of Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trails & Visitors Center, Nebraska City, NE. (402) 873-4293
July 30-August 1, "A Tale of the Trail" dramatization, Skylon Ballroom, Hartington, NE. (402) 667-6557
July 30-August 1, "First Annual All Nations Veterans Commemoration and Pow Wow," Memorial Veterans Park, 57th and Dodge, Omaha. (402) 471-3475
July 31-August 3, "First Tribal Council," National Signature Event, Fort Atkinson State Historical Park near Fort Calhoun and Elmwood Park, Omaha, NE. (800) 228-4307) o July 31-August 3, Corps of Discovery II Keelboat Exhibit, Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Calhoun NE. (402) 468-4313
August 1, "William Clark Birthday Party," Washington County Museum, Fort Calhoun, NE. (402) 468-5740
August 5-8, "Pathways to the Past," Burt County Museum Lewis and Clark Celebration and Tekamah's 150th birthday; outdoor concert, street dance, speakers, car and truck show; Tekamah, NE. (402) 374-1749
August 7-9, "200th Anniversary of Lewis and Clark Encampment," lecturers, reenactors, replica keelboat and pirogues for viewing and rides, Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa, IA. (712) 423-2829
August 14, "Lewis and Clark Fish Camp II," reenactment, speakers, fishing tournament; Crystal Cove Park, South Sioux City, NE. (800) 793-6327 o August 21-22, Sgt. Floyd 1804, Living History Encampment, Sgt. Floyd Museum & Welcome Center, Sioux City, IA. (712) 279-0198
August 21-22, "Elk Point Heritage Days," rendezvous, traders, crafts, reenactment of election of Sgt. Gass, demonstrations, military encampment, buffalo stew dinner Saturday; Elk Point, SD. (605) 356-2164 or 356-3336
August 21-22, Lewis and Clark Festival and tours of Spirit Mound, W.H. Over Museum, Vermillion, SD. (800) 809-2071
August 23, "Sergeant Patrick Gass, Chief Carpenter: On the trail with Lewis and Clark," readings by the author, Bill Kloefkorn, free, 7 p.m., Wayne State College, Wayne, NE. (402) 375-3135
August 23-29, 200th Annual Harvest Dance, Omaha Tribal Reservation Sacred Grounds, Macy, NE. (402) 837-5391
August 27-September 6, "Oceti Sakowin Experience," National Signature Event, South Dakota Tribal Lands and Reservations, Chamberlain/Oacoma, SD. (605) 773-3301
August 27 - 29, "Lewis and Clark Festival," reenactments, Native American dancing, traders; Gavins Point Dam/Lake Yankton, Yankton, SD and Crofton, NE. (402) 667-2546
September 3, "Dream of the Pacific," Arts on the Green Performances, 7:30 p.m., The Rose Theater, Omaha. (402) 346-7372
September 5, "Dream of the Pacific," Arts on the Green Performances, 2 p.m., The Rose Theater, Omaha. (402) 346-7372
September 20, "Medical Care on the Lewis and Clark Trail," Bev Hinds, speaker; free, 7 p.m., Wayne State College, Wayne, NE. (402) 375-3135
September 24-26, Lewis and Clark Goosefest, Pierre, SD. (800) 962-2034 o September 24-26, "Bad River Gathering," reenactment of Lewis and Clark's confrontation with Sioux, Fort Pierre, SD. (605) 223-7761
October 11, "Foods and Cooking from the Lewis and Clark Expedition," Brad Tennant, speaker; free, 7 p.m., Wayne State College, Wayne, NE. (402) 375-3135
October 22-31, "Circle of Cultures: Time of Renewal and Exchange," National Signature Event, Bismarck, ND. (800) 767-3555
November 8, "Technology, the Corp ... and the Indians," Hal Stearns, speaker, free, 7 p.m., Wayne State College, Wayne, NE. (402) 375-3135