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"The disadvantage of [people] not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone [they] see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living." --G. K. Chesterson, author (1874-1936)

Each year classrooms across the U.S. study, re-enact, and celebrate the Lewis and Clark expedition, a journey that has become an emblematic symbol of American fortitude and courage. While there are many aspects of the "Corps of Discovery" worthy of commemoration-the triumph over geographical obstacles, the appreciation and cataloging of nature, and the epic proportions of the journey - this is only part of the history.

While Lewis and Clark regarded the West as territory "on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden," this land had been home for centuries to millions of Native Americans from over 170 nations. For the descendents of these people, celebrations of the Corps of Discovery mark the onset of an era of brutal repression, genocide and the destruction of their culture.

The lesson plans in this issue of Curriculum Connections take an in-depth look at the history of U.S. expansion and Indian policy, and present the voices and perspectives of Native Americans on the Lewis and Clark expedition. These materials offer an alternative viewpoint on an often-glorified era, and call attention to the dangers of ethnocentric and one-sided versions of history.

In South Dakota, a group re-enacting the Lewis and Clark expedition was confronted by American Indian leaders who questioned the legacy of the journey and its effects. "All [they] did by coming up into our territory is open old wounds," commented a Lakota member of the delegation. "You are re-enacting the coming of death to our people."

As educators plan historical commemorations into their curriculum each year, it is critical that they incorporate lessons that encourage curricula that encourage multiple perspectives and values, reduce cultural encapsulation, and highlight the experiences of those who have been traditionally marginalized in history. Lewis and Clark expedition offers a prime opportunity to model such an approach.

Art in title banner above is from "This Land is My Land" copyright ©1993 by George Littlechild and used with permission of the publisher, Children's Book Press, San Francisco, CA.

In This Issue
  • Terminology
  • Quick Facts
Lesson Plans
  • Elementary Level Unit
  • Middle Level Unit
  • Secondary Level Unit
Additional Resources
  • Bibliography and Resources
(PDF: 67K)
  • Art from Reflecting on Lewis and Clark: Contemporary American Indian Viewpoints
  • Selected paintings and text from This Land is My Land by George Littlechild
  • Maps: Native America, U.S. Expansion, and Indian Removal
Listen to "Whats it Gonna Take" by Rap artist, Litefoot
(MP3: 4,094K)

Anti-Bias Study Guide
(Secondary Level)
Echoes and Reflections (Holocaust Curriculum)
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute Recommended Multicultural and Anti-Bias Books for Children
A CLASSROOM OF DIFFERENCE™ Programs and Resources
The Miller Early Childhood Initiative of A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute
Braun Holocaust Institute
Confronting Anti-Semitism
ADL Online Catalog: Resources for Classroom and Community

 Lewis and Clark: The Unheard Voices ©2005 Anti-Defamation League