Synopses & Reviews
For the first time in the two hundred years since Lewis and Clark led their expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific, we hear the other side of the story as we listen to nine descendants of the Indians whose homelands were traversed.
Among those who speak: Newspaper editor Mark Trahant writes of his childhood belief that he was descended from Clark and what his own research uncovers. Award-winning essayist and fiction writer Debra Magpie Earling describes the tribal ways that helped her nineteenth-century Salish ancestors survive, and that still work their magic today. Montana political figure Bill Yellowtail tells of the efficiency of Indian trade networks, explaining how axes that the expedition traded for food in the Mandan and Hidatsa villages of Kansas had already arrived in Nez Perce country by the time Lewis and Clark got there a few months and 1,000 miles later. Umatilla tribal leader Roberta Conner compares Lewis and Clark's journal entries about her people with what was actually going on, wittily questioning Clark's notion that the natives believed the white men came from the clouds in other words, they were gods. Writer and artist N. Scott Momaday ends the book with a moving tribute to the most difficult of journeys, calling it, in the truest sense, for both the men who entered the unknown and those who watched, a vision quest, with the visions gained being of profound consequence.
Some of the essays are based on family stories, some on tribal or American history, still others on the particular circumstances of a tribe today but each reflects the expedition's impact through the prism of the author's own, or the tribe's, point of view.
Thoughtful, moving, provocative, Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes is an exploration of history and a study of survival that expands our knowledge of our country's first inhabitants. It also provides a fascinating and invaluable new perspective on the Lewis and Clark expedition itself and its place in the long history of our continent.
"From perspectives as diverse as the tribes whose lands Meriwether Lewis and William Clark traversed, these nine essays offer an other-side-of-the-coin view of that historic 1803 mission. 'What impact, good or bad, immediate or long-range, did the Indians experience from the Lewis and Clark expedition?' editors Josephy and Jaffe asked their contributors. The answers, fragmented and sometimes luminous, provide a kaleidoscopic vision of Native American opinions about the trip. Vine Deloria Jr., a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota, argues that 'we often tend to clothe the accounts of Lewis and Clark in more heroic terms than they deserve.' Pulitzer Prize-winning Kiowa N. Scott Momaday (House Made of Dawn) provides a creative evocation of historic 'voices of encounter' which includes a section in the voice of Sacagawea. More prosaically, Bill Yellowtail, a Crow, sees Lewis and Clark as 'envoys for free-trade agreements, long prior to NAFTA and CAFTA and the WTO.' Several authors recall how the lore and history of Lewis and Clark were transmitted to them by older relatives. A popular historian and a respected scholar of Indian affairs, Josephy died in October 2005. Main selection of the History Book Club." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The most compelling Lewis and Clark-related book I've ever read in that it challenged almost every historical assumption I held about the expedition and provided a much-needed, long-overlooked perspective as voiced through Native Americans." Oregonian
"Some of the essays celebrate the history of the Native groups that came into contact with the Lewis and Clark expedition; others reflect the justifiable anger that many Native populations still hold toward the U.S. government for the treatment that they have received over the centuries." Library Journal
"[An] informative and moving collection." School Library Journal
At the heart of this landmark collection of essays rests a single question: What impact, good or bad, immediate or long-range, did Lewis and Clark's journey have on the Indians whose homelands they traversed? The nine writers in this volume each provide their own unique answers; from Pulitzer prize-winner N. Scott Momaday, who offers a haunting essay evoking the voices of the past; to Debra Magpie Earling's illumination of her ancestral family, their survival, and the magic they use to this day; to Mark N. Trahant's attempt to trace his own blood back to Clark himself; and Roberta Conner's comparisons of the explorer's journals with the accounts of the expedition passed down to her. Incisive and compelling, these essays shed new light on our understanding of this landmark journey into the American West.
About the Author
Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., a leading historian of the American West, was the author of many award-winning books, including The Patriot Chiefs, The Indian Heritage of America, Now That the Buffalo's Gone, The Civil War in the American West, 500 Nations, and A Walk Toward Oregon. He was a vice president and editor of American Heritage magazine, the founding chairman of the board of trustees of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and president of the Western History Association. Josephy died in the fall of 2005, shortly after completing this book.
Table of Contents
Frenchmen, Bears, and Sandbars
by Vine Deloria, Jr.
What We See
by Debra Magpie Earling
Who's Your Daddy?
by Mark D. Trahant
Merriwether and Billy and the Indian Business
by Bill Yellowtail
Our People Have Always Been Here
by Roberta Conner
Mandan and Hidatsa of the Upper Missouri
by Gerard A. Baker
We Ya Oo Yet Soyapo
by Allen V. Pinkham, Sr.
The Ceremony at Ne-Ah-Coxie
by Roberta and Richard Basch
The Voices of Encounter
by N. Scott Momaday
From the Hardcover edition.