In the many published accounts of the Lewis and Clark expedition, historians have tended to undervalue the explorers' encounter with Columbia River country. Most narratives emphasize Lewis and Clark's adventures through their journey to the Bitterroot Mountains but have said little about the rest of their travels west of there. River of Promise fills a significant gap in our understanding of Lewis and Clark's legendary expedition. Historian David L. Nicandri shifts the focus to an essential goal of the explorers: to discover the headwaters of the Columbia and a water route to the Pacific Ocean. He also restores William Clark in his role as the primary geographic problem-solver of the partnership. Most historians assume that Meriwether Lewis was a more distinguished scientist than Clark because of his formal training in Philadelphia and superior writing skills. Here we see Clark as Lewis's equal as scientific geographer, not merely the practical manager of boats and personnel. Nicandri places the legend of Sacagawea in clearer perspective by focusing instead on the contributions of often-overlooked Indian leaders in Columbia River country. He also offers many points of comparison to other explorers and a provocative analysis of Lewis's suicide in 1809, arguing that it was not a sudden event but fruit of a seed planted much earlier, quite possibly in Columbia country.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -340) and index.
c. 1: H37030 MAY 24 2010. Gift: Heard Museum Guild Library Fund, $27.12. Ordered from: University of Oklahoma Press.
The voice of Meriwether Lewis
The great river of the West
Lessons in continental geography
Not one stick of timber
The new Sacagawea myth
Forks of the Columbia
William Clark : scientific geographer
Commerce and pestilence in Indian Country
The illusion of Cape Disappointment
The solitary hero
End of voyage
Following Mackenzie, the protocols of exploration, and the conventions of the travel narrative
The "vote" at Station Camp
The return voyage and the dissolution of Meriwether Lewis
The fidelity of William Clark
Final reflections on Lewis, Clark, and the promise of the Columbia River.
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