Here we are again, a seasonal visit to the larger-than-life images of three people who shaped the United States like no one else has done.William Clark, hired by Captain Lewis visit with Mandan Chief Sheheke. The three represent the lost art of cultural curiosity and cultural acceptance. Clark and Lewis stayed months with the Mandans at a campsite just under the hill from these statues. They learned from the Mandans, and thanks to the hospitality (which still marks the Mandans today) they were able to live through the winter and carry on their expedition.
Chief Sheheke, curious about white man’s life went back to Washington DC to meet President Jefferson and to learn of this culture he did not know existed until he met the Corps of Discovery. Sadly, it was not a good move for the Chief. When he returned to his people he was not well-received, nor were his stories of white man’s civilization readily believed nor accepted. He lost status, leadership and eventually his life.
These statues stand at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Washburn, just above the Missouri river. See that tree in the background, it’s literally on the crest of the hill overlooking the Missouri River below.
Most travelers through North Dakota stick to the Interstate, or don’t even bother to head west to see North Dakota outside of the Red River Valley, and so they do themselves a disservice by not exposing themselves to the beauty that Lewis and Clark encountered, a region fairly unsullied by modern life, a region where the actual trees the Corps of Discovery walked through are still standing, living and growing. The Interpretive Center is a hidden jewel in America.
Have you been up the Missouri River to the near-wilderness areas of North Dakota? Have you been to the Interpretive Center or nearby Fort Mandan?