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Learn About Lewis and Clark Through Native Eyes - 5/12/03

    Lewis and Clark discovered nothing in what became the American West, yet they put in motion a series of events that changed a way of life for those who were there long before them.

    Those who want to understand the whole story of the famed Corps of Discovery can take a journey to learn what it meant to the Indians who already were on the land “sold” in the Louisianna Purchase by attending “A Confluence of Cultures: Native Americans and the Expedition of Lewis and Clark.”

    The Montana Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission and the University of Montana-Missoula are teaming up to present the conference May 28 through May 30 on the Missoula campus that will bring together scholars and cultural leaders from across the nation to take a new and sometimes controversial look at the legacy of the expedition.

    “From an indigenous perspective we have endured and survived, and those stories need to be told intertribally and internationally,” Linda Juneau, an event organizer and Blackfeet Indian, said.

    The two-day conference is open to anyone for a $40 registration fee, which has been held down by raising funds from outside donors to make the event affordable to more people. There also are several entertaining cultural events on the schedule to make it a fun as well as educational experience.

    “We will have 78 presenters, 12 entertaining performances, ten featured speakers and two keynote speakers,” symposium organizer and UM professor David Purviance said. “This is a chance for people at a minimal cost to take part in a ground-breaking event that has international attention.”

    The presentations, which will be made by mostly Native Americans as well as some nationally and even internationally known historians and writers, will challenge many of the beliefs long held by the non-Indian community about the impacts of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

    “The expedition was a shared moment in our common history, but it is viewed from different perspectives by Indian and non-Indian scholars,” Purviance said. “This is an opportunity to hear, in a non-threatening venue, what the Indian people of this country have to say about Lewis and Clark.”

    Clint Blackwood, executive director of the Montana Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission, said that the things learned from the conference will be used to enrich the nation’s Bicentennial commemoration events all along the national trail.

    “Montana’s Bicentennial Commission, led by past Chairman Darrell Kipp a Blackfeet from Browning, has always had education and American Indian interests as a high priority,” Blackwood said. “This symposium is a timely opportunity for the state commission to partner with the UM Bicentennial Commission to present this unique experience.”

    Here is a sample of the topics to be covered:

    • “I Remember Red Hair and Long Knife: Oral Tradition of the Mandan and Hidatsa on Lewis and Clark”
    • “Indigenous Women and the Influence of Lewis and Clark”
    • “A Century of Genocide in the Americas: A Residential School Experience”
    • “The Legacy of William Clark: Exploitation, Displacement and Devastation”
    • “Food and Native Diplomacy 1804-1806”
    • “We Believed the Good Spirit Had Forsaken Us: The Cultural Impact of European Infectious Disease Among Indigenous People of the North West Plains" ·
    • “The Formation and Purpose of Indigenous Media: A Comparison between Australia and North America”

    One of the special entertainment highlights will be special performance by Indian comedian Charlie Hill, who was lead writer for the long-running TV series Roseanne, a guest on the Tonight Show and has been voted Indian entertainer of the year two times.

    “This performance is worth the registration fee in its self,” Purviance said. “His style of humor crosses cultural lines to both lighten and enlighten people with the healing power of laughter.”

    There also will be Indian photography and art exhibits up during the conference, as well as a variety of entertainment including two evening performances featuring dramatic presentations, storytelling, singing and dancing. Noted Montana musicians Jack Gladstone and Rob Quist will perform during the Finale Banquest on Friday evening.

    For more information persons can log on to, or to register contact Juneau at or telephone 406-243-6093.



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    For more information please contact:
    Montana Historical Society
    P.O. Box 201201
    225 North Roberts
    Helena, MT 59620-1201
    (406) 444-2694

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