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Although each of the nine men and women who write about the impact of the Lewis and Clark expedition comes at the subject from a different angle, the overall conclusion is similar: This was one event in the many cycles of life their people have experienced on this continent.
Vine Deloria reduces his reread of the Lewis and Clark journals to “Frenchmen,” who had already explored the territory and eased the Corps’ way; “bears,” which vastly overpopulated the West; and “sandbars,” which were to preclude opening the waterways to trade.
Debra Magpie Earling writes movingly of her own Salish family and neighbors the way they are now, perhaps as a result of the expedition—her grandfather with his prophecies; Blind Mose, who will speak only Salish, although his English is good; her mother and what she learned from a traditional ceremony about putting the past behind her—and of her own coming to terms with the expedition.
Mark Trahant tells how when he was a child he thought he was descended from Clark because of stories his family told him, and what those stories mean to him and his family.
Roberta Conner pulls out the journal entries that discuss the Corps’ stay in Umatilla territory, and gives her current-day response to them, explaining the customs mentioned, gently upbraiding Clark for thinking the Umatillas thought the white men were gods.
These pieces expand our knowledge of the Indian tribes of the plains and the northwest now and in the past, and give an appreciation of their strength in meeting and living with overwhelming events with humor, grit, and determination to survive.