journal notes

November 2005
Issue No. 7 Vol. 3

Lewis & Clark in Montana… Again… 200-Year Commemoration

With the L&C Commemoration underway this past several months through Montana, we wanted to share the highlights of activities that took place along the trail. As you read through each location’s description below, notice how it didn’t matter the size of the community involved. The Lewis & Clark trail in Montana covers large and small, and all were equally enthusiastic in its welcome of the Bicentennial. A special note of thanks to all the local volunteers who ensured the success of the many events along the trail!

Lewis & Clark at the Confluence “this long wished for spot” – April 29 to May 1, 2005

Two states joined in partnership to present this commemoration signifying the arrival of the Lewis & Clark Expedition into present day Montana. Based at the new Missouri Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center near the Montana/North Dakota border, hundreds of visitors experienced a weekend that featured an encampment sponsored by the Montana Tribal Tourism Alliance and living history exhibits and demonstrations depicting life in 1805.

Fort Peck – May 6-9, 2005

Fort Peck was the first Montana community to host the Corps of Discovery II: 200 Years to the Future in Poplar. This traveling interpretive park was sponsored by the National Park Service with the support of many other state and federal agencies. Highlighting Corps II’s visit to Poplar was the raising of 48 flags from states and Indian Reservations along the Lewis & Clark Trail. This was also the first site to have the Montana National Guard honor veterans of all wars with a commemorative gold coin.

Glasgow – May 14-17, 2005

The attendance at Glasgow may be a hard act to follow as approximately 3,000 attended the combination of Lewis & Clark events (more than the number of folks who claim Glasgow as their home!). The Valley Event Center hosted numerous Lewis & Clark exhibits and traditional Indian lodges, while Corps II was located at the Valley County Fairgrounds. Job well done!

Fort Benton – June 3-12, 2005

This was the first of two stops of Corps II for the Explore! the Big Sky National Signature Event. Hosted by the Chouteau County Fairgrounds, Corps II had some 4,500 visitors. Joining the National Park Service in Fort Benton and in other Montana venues were the BLM’s “A Legacy of Land Stewardship” exhibit tent, and the Bureau of Reclamation’s hands-on exhibit complete with a dugout canoe. Other activities held in Fort Benton included the Grand Opening of Explore! the Big Sky, which due to very rainy weather was held indoors at the Fort Benton High School Gymnasium. The community hosted an Art on the Levy exhibit, and a large Art in the Park vendors fair.

Rocky Boy’s – June 17-20, 2005

The Chippewa Cree went all out to host Corps II at the Sybil Sangrey Colliflower Rodeo Arena on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation near the community of Box Elder, MT. Following a very colorful opening ceremonies which included a Salute to Veterans by the Montana National Guard, the Rocky Boy’s hosts offered a Buffalo Feed which featured a buffalo that was harvested only days prior, and then buried and slow cooked on-site. The large hide was stretched and scraped by the ladies and volunteers attending the Language Institute that was held simultaneously. The “footprint” of Corps II included numerous Indian lodges set up in a traditional circular format with the center area reserved for buffalo jerky slow cooked over a wood fire.

Great Falls – June 25-July 4, 2005

This venue was the second half of the Explore! the Big Sky National Signature Event. Activities included traditional tribal games and villages, powwow, symposiums featuring Euro and Indian speakers, reenactments, exhibits, programs, and music. In total this was a combination of 34 days of events that the City of Great Falls worked very hard to stage literally for a national audience. The preliminary estimate of visitation was 40,527; many people attended numerous free events such as the Thunderbirds aerial performance. Truly a great effort Great Falls!

Helena – July 9-17, 2005

Entitled “Gateway to the Rockies-Bicentennial Gathering,” the community of Helena did a great job of hosting the traveling Corps II program (visitation was estimated at over 14,000). Some of the activities included: an Odyssey West concert; a Native American art market; the opening of the Lewis & Clark Montana Experience in the Great Northern Town Center; the Mission Mountain Wood Band’s reunion concert; Musical Currents; the Portal Dance project; and the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles Re-enactors. Townsend also got in the act later in July when they hosted an interpretive camp and presented a community picnic for the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles. A tour of the Crimson Bluffs, and a short float in the York’s Island area highlighted their time in Broadwater County.

Bozeman – July 22-31, 2005

The opening ceremonies featuring Joe McGeshick discussing “What Lewis & Clark Meant to the Indians,” and an address by President Jefferson (as portrayed by Fort Benton’s own Bob Doerk) set the stage for an interesting and entertaining set of programs in the Tent of Many Voices. Just west of Bozeman on I-90 at the Missouri Headwaters State Park, the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles had set-up camp, and had interpretive displays open to the public. In Three Forks the Lewis & Clark Honor Guard also had interpretive displays, and answered visitors’ questions in a city park. A new Sacajawea statue was officially dedicated in Three Forks on July 23rd. On July 31st Whitehall held a commemorative barbeque at the Jefferson Valley Presents amphitheatre near Cardwell, MT. The Discovery Expedition of St. Charles and Hal Stearns as Capt. William Clark were featured presenters.

Dillon – August 5-8, 2005

The Community of Dillon put on a super show during the anniversary of Lewis & Clark traveling through their area. A parade through downtown started things off, followed by some very unique programming in Corps II. A day at the Clark Canyon Reservoir featured the reenactment choreographed by Steve Morehouse, depicting Captain Lewis coming back to Camp Fortunate with Cameahwait, the Chief of a band of Lemhi-Shoshone Indians, who was also the long-lost brother of Sacajawea. A bicentennial-era dance capped off the festivities in Dillon. Twin Bridges also had a “River Parade” on Sunday, July 7th featuring a Lewis & Clark theme with the L&C Honor Guard hosting interpretive stations.

Hamilton – August 31-September 3, 2005

Hamilton hosted Corps II as a part of their annual Ravalli County Fair. The Discovery Expedition of St. Charles and the Travelers’ Rest Brigade marched immediately behind the Marine Corps Band from Georgia to start the week’s activities. As with other Corps II venues, the Montana National Guard hosted a Salute to Veterans in the Tent of Many Voices. Saturday’s attendance at Corps II topped 1,400 people! Nicely done, Hamilton!

Lolo – Travelers’ Rest State Park - September 8-11, 2005

The “footprint” for Corps II in the Travelers’ Rest State Park was one of a kind. Included was the Tent of Many Voices, the Montana National Guard exhibit, a Travelers’ Rest Visitor Center, a tent staffed by Fish, Wildlife & Parks personnel, the Bureau of Reclamation’s exhibit with the dugout canoe, the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles encampment, and the BLM’s Legacy of Land Stewardship exhibit tent. Connecting all the displays to the actual Travelers’ Rest campsite was a newly built and installed, weathered steel bridge spanning the Lolo Creek drainage.

Salish Powwow at Sula, MT– Sept. 9-10, 2005

The Encounter the Bitterroot Salish powwow was very successful. Three powwow segments were staged in a specially constructed dance arbor. During this commemorative powwow members from the Lewis & Clark Expedition met with the Salish Indians in a reenactment that perhaps was somewhat similar to their meeting of 200 years ago. An authentic peace pipe was smoked, and sign language was used to represent the discussion of horses the Expedition needed to cross the Bitterroot Mountains.

Upcoming Montana L&C Bicentennial Commission Meetings

Meeting Minutes

Minutes of all Commission meetings are available online.


Montana Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission
P O Box 201203 Helena, MT 59620-1203
Phone: 406-443-2109 Fax: 406-444-2686