How I Spent My Voyage of Discovery

This lesson can be used with The United States: An Open Ended History, a free online textbook.  Adapted in part from open sources.
lewis-and-clark_v2
A page from Lewis’s journal.

From May 1804 to September 1806, the Corps of Discovery under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark, was the first American expedition to cross the western portion of the United States. Also along for the mission was York, Clark’s slave, who who carried a gun and hunted on behalf of the expedition and was also accorded a vote during group decisions, more than half a century before African Americans could actually participate in American democracy.  Along the way, the Corps picked up they met a French-Canadian fur trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau, and his teenage Shoshone wife Sacagawea, who had purchased as a slave and who was pregnant with their child.  The Shoshone lived in the Rocky Mountains, and Sacagawea’s knowledge of nature, geography, language, and culture proved to be invaluable to the expedition. (Excerpted from The United States: An Open Ended History)

The primary goals of the Lewis and Clark expedition were:

  1. Map the Missouri River.
  2. Find the easiest route across the continent that would allow for trade between east and west.
  3. Make detailed observations of the natural resources and geography of the west.
  4. Establish good relations with native groups in an attempt to disrupt British dominance of the lucrative Indian fur trade of the continental interior.

Pretend that you are Lewis and Clark. President Thomas Jefferson has asked you to the White House to deliver a detailed report about your expedition.  In particular, Jefferson is asking that you grade the success of your expedition in achieving the four goals above.  Rate your success in achieving each goal on an academic scale of A to F, with an A representing unqualified success, F a total failure, and a C representing mixed results. 

Your group will be assigned to document and rate one of the following segments of the Lewis and Clark journey, which in total lasted from 1803-1806 – 

1024px-Carte_Lewis_and_Clark_Expedition

A good presentation will accomplish all of the following while justifying your ratings: document the assigned portion of their journey, the members of the expedition who provided indispensable contributions to its success, the people they met along the way, the wildlife they encountered, and specific events that occurred during this portion of the expedition. You should also supply some enticing visuals to supplement your report.

In order to present your findings, you can make a webpage, a mock up of Lewis’s journal, a song, a rap, a comic, a Prezi, a WeExplore, or anything else you can imagine.  Aside from this, the main requirement is – DON’T BE BORING!!

A Starting Point: Timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

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