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MONTANA AND IDAHO LEWIS AND CLARK EXCHANGE
With some lessons learned along the trail, organizations across Montana continue to work hard on Corps of Discovery events for 2006 and warrant continued public support, Montana Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission Executive Director Clint Blackwood said.
“We have three major events next year, including the National Signature event ‘Clark on the Yellowstone,’ at Pompeys Pillar near Billings,” Blackwood said. “There also are dozens of other local events and activities scheduled across the state.”
The observance of a national day of honor at Pompeys Pillar on July 25 will include a peace ceremony and gift exchange recognizing the contributions of Native Americans to the expedition’s success will focus national attention on Montana, Blackwood said.
One of the best ways that people can show continued support for all those working hard on 2006 events is to renew their Lewis and Clark Bicentennial license plates, he said.
“Proceeds from those plates have helped, and will continue to help, organizations across Montana with their events,” he said. “It also is a visible way to show your pride in Montana and its history.”
Blackwood said many good things have been accomplished and more will be accomplished next year.
“One of the commission’s primary goals was to create a lasting legacy of new interpretations and understanding of the effects of the expedition on our history from both the Native American and non-Native American points of view,” he said. “We have accomplished that and will do even more next year.”
The 2006 events will get off to a big start from June 21 to July 9 in the Missoula area with the Western Montana Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission’s “Lewis and Clark in the Rockies Bicentennial Rendezvous.”
It is a “five valley” event involving the Bitterroot, Lolo, Missoula, Blackfeet and Mission Valleys, Western Bicentennial Commission Chairman Scott Sproull said.
“We don’t have glassy-eyed images of lots of people. We just want to provide activities that will involve as many people as we can in the best way we can,” Sproull said.
Many of the activities of the Missoula area event will take place on and around Southgate Mall or in museums and other public places, which Sproull said will provide a familiar and comfortable access point for people to get involved as much as they want.
“We just want people to come here and kick back for a few days to do things they won’t be able to do for another 100 years,” he said.
Another major event will be in Browning July 26 through July 29 to coincide with the Corps’ contact with the Blackfeet.
It will allow people to learn about one of the darkest moments of the expedition when Lewis and some of his men had a fatal confrontation that resulted in the death of two Blackfeet warriors, Blackfeet Planner George Heavy Runner said.
“It’s an opportunity for the tribe and others to reflect about not only that incident but everything that has happened over the past 200 years in shaping who we are today,” Heavy Runner said.
On July 27th, which is the anniversary of the ill-fated confrontation, tribal members will hold a Blackfeet spiritual healing ceremony at the site of the warriors’ deaths.
“We want to be inclusive and hope that this will become an annual event to keep educating people,” he said. “Maybe somebody will come along and apologize. That would be nice.”
Heavy Runner is a member of the national Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council as well as its Circle of Tribal Advisors. He said developing dialog between Indians and non-Indians has been gaining momentum and must be continued into 2006.
“People in some respects might be tired of hearing about Lewis and Clark, but on the other hand when I was in Oregon recently, I talked to two ladies who had been at every major event along the whole trail. People will come if we give them a reason,” he said.
Melody Dobson and Robbie Carpenter, coordinators of the “Clark on the Yellowstone” event to be held July 22 through July 25, 2006, echoed that sentiment.
“Our event recognizes the importance of Clark’s return trip, the cultural diversity of the area, the geographic importance of the area, and the role of the Native American tribes in helping make the expedition successful,” Dobson said.
The event is commemorative of the July 25, 1806, arrival of Clark and 13 of his men at what they named Pompeys Pillar, where Clark carved his initials in the rock formation near Billings leaving the only permanent physical evidence of the expedition.
Having the event focused on four days will allow visitors to better plan their trips and take advantage of all events planned, Dobson said.
“There will be a Plains Indian Living History Encampment of more that 30 teepees and lodges on the grounds at Pompeys Pillar, and traditional Native American games will be featured,” Carpenter said.
The Corps II traveling exhibit, which has been one of the most popular venues along the trail, and an Authors’ Rendezvous co-hosted by Stephenie Ambros Tubbs, who is the daughter of the late Stephen Ambrose author of “Undaunted Courage,” are among the special events.
The new Pompeys Pillar Interpretive Center built by the Bureau of Land Management will be officially dedicated. It features new and exciting exhibits that honor the Corps as well as the aboriginal Indian tribes present at that time.
Organizers of all three events say they still need sponsors and volunteers. Interested persons can contact Billings organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org, Missoula organizers at email@example.com, or Heavy Runner at 406-338-7521.
CORPS II SITES FOR 2006
The traveling Corps II venue has been one of the most popular attractions of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial.
Here are the dates and sites for 2006 in Montana:
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