Friday, May 30, 2014

Lewis & Clark Adventure: Downtown Bismarck, ND

We live in a great country, the United States of America. We have been to almost every part of it. No doubt there are some ugly "armpits", some places we're happy not to reside. Our history is certainly blemished. Whose isn't? But Debbie and I tend to see the great beauty of most places we visit. Even when we are not looking forward to going to some place or to some city, we are usually pleasantly surprised. I, for one, was not expecting to like North Dakota. I thought that it was just this place we had to go through to get to where we really wanted to be, Montana. How wrong I was!

We really loved North Dakota and especially Bismarck. It is a booming, thriving town with lots of spirit and pride. North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate and the highest growth rate in the nation. Bismarck is one of the centers of this progress. There are dozens of miles of bike and walking trails. There is a thriving arts community. Lewis and Clark have their footprints all over the place but the community also reveres its' American Indian heritage and its' pioneers from the East and from Europe.

North Dakota State Capitol. We kept looking for the Dome. Doesn't every capitol have a dome?
Not North Dakota. They have an Art Deco building.

This is the North Dakota State Library. Just behind it, barely visible through the trees, is the All Veterans Memorial.
To the left of the library is the North Dakota Heritage Cebter

This boxcar was a gift from the people of France to the people of North Dakota in memory of the North Dakota soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the freedom of France during WWI and WWII

Flowering cherry on the grounds of the Heritage Center.
One great thing about the route we have taken is that we continue to celebrate Spring.
Spring was just about over when we left North Carolina. We keep running into flowering trees and tulips.

This map shows all of the places that Lewis and Clark camped while in North Dakota.
They spent over 200 days in North Dakota, more than any other state.
You can click on the picture and expand it to read the sites.

Looking from the Capitol steps is a beautiful parade ground. The photo does not show the enormous size of the grounds.
This place was very serene, almost spiritual. I had the same feeling on the entire capitol grounds.

Sakakwea statue outside the Heritage Center.
See my footnote from my last post for a discussion of her name.

Another view of Sakakawea.

We were lucky to be able to visit the All Veteran Memorial on Memorial Day.

One of our friend's great uncle is memorialized on the partitions in this display. We didn't know it at the time so I didn't get a photo. The names of all of the North Dakota fallen from WWI,  WWI, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terrorism are listed.


The North Dakota Heritage Center is a gem. Beautiful displays of North Dakota history going back
to geological eras and to the first inhabitants after the ice sheets receded about 10,000 years ago.
The stories of all of the American Indian tribes that lived and live in North Dakota are
seen in the collections of  art, implements, dress, and structures. 

I did not know that the original bison that came to North America were twice a big as the current species.

The skull in the center is from Bison latifrons, the giants that disappeared 20,000 to 30,000 years ago.
The smaller skulls are from the more recent species

This mural shows what the appearance of Lewis and Clark must have looked like to the Mandans, Hidatsa, and Anikara tribes.The insert on the left tells the story of Sakakawea, as she is known in North Dakota, Sacagawea to the rest of us.

Jefferson and Lewis thought there might still be mammoths roaming west of the Mississippi. They went extinct about 10,000 years ago probably from climate change, the retreat of glaciers.

Some prehistoric American Indians made teepees of tree bark.

Before Columbus, most American Indians were of stone age culture. 

A rebarb rendition of the bison.
Rosie and Frank on a bike trail along the Missouri River.  The bike trails were paved in parts, gravel in parts and dirt in others. This trail followed the Missouri for about 6 miles. It was a beautiful day and we saw hundreds of people walking, bicycling, roller blading, fishing and picnicking along this wonderful trail.

A nice Canadian family

Debbie, Rosie and I in front of the Lewis and Clark Riverboat. We took a 2 hour cruise on this boat. Well, Rosie wasn't allowed. I think that will be the next great civil rights fight: The Rights of Animals!
Well, one more step on our adventure to find our history. Tomorrow, we take a slight diversion from the Lewis and Clark Trail to visit Medora, ND and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We will rejoin the trail in Great Falls Montana.

Ciao, Frank

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lewis & Clark Adventure: Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota

Bismarck, North Dakota, is a treasure. I think all I knew about North Dakota was from the movie, Fargo, which Debbie and I both loved. We pictured the whole state as snow covered, one large blizzard. As we drove from Pierre, SD to Bismarck, ND we went through several hundred miles of rolling hills, semi-desert, barely a tree. Mostly empty of people (and gas stations!). But then you get to Bismarck and what a difference. This place is BOOMING. Both Bismarck and North Dakota itself are experiencing the largest population growth of the entire USA. About 7% in the last 3-5 years. The northwest corner of North Dakota, especially Williston, are growing even faster, roughly doubling in the last 5 years. This growth is spurred almost entirely by oil. There is more oil in North Dakota than in all of the Middle East.

Lewis and Clark spent more time in present day North Dakota than any other place during their 2+ years of exploration, 220-ish days. They lived among the indigenous people here, the Mandan, the Hidatsa,  and the Arikara. They spent a brutal winter in Fort Mandan, near present day Washburn, ND, where the Knife River empties into the Missouri River. The interaction with the American Indians*, was peaceful and mutually beneficial. It was here that they met a French trader, Charbonneau, and his 16 year old pregnant wife, Sacagawea**. 

Debbie and I are really starting to feel the excitement that the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery must have felt, seeing this beautiful land and meeting the American Indians.

Fort Abraham Lincoln really has nothing to do with Lewis & Clark. It wasn't built until 1872, as part of the United States effort to control the American Indians and to protect those building railroad lines. It was the home fort of George Custer, of Little Bighorn fame. It does have a nice exhibit of the Mandan and Hidatsa people and the On-A-Slant Indian Village is about two miles away.

General Custer lived at the Fort for a while. He had two luxurious houses built for him at tax payers expense.

The On-A-Slant village was an actual Mandan village. It was abandoned 50 years before Lewis and Clark. The population may have been wiped out by measles, smallpox, and/or syphillis transmitted by French and Brittish traders.

This reconstructed house is covered with soil. There is a large opening in the center to allow smoke to escape.

The structures were built to last. They generally stayed in use for 10 to 15 years.

This is a diorama of the entire village. There were 75 house found at this site. The trench to the left was dug by the community. It was defensive. The houses were built and owned by women. 
Captains Lewis and Clark meeting with White Coyote, the Mandan Chief, on their return trip 1806.
At the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Washburn, ND

This painting, in the interpretive center, depicts a mandan village

Two artists, George Catlin and Karl Bodner visited the area, separately, in the 1830's on a mission to capture the Indians existence and preserve it before it was destroyed.
This is a reconstruction of Fort Mandan. This is where the Corps of discovery spent the winter of 1804-1805.

Each room had several beds and a large stone fireplace. Most of the men slept in the lofts above the room.

The captains had their own room.
This expedition that Debbie and I are doing, while not as bold as the original Lewis and Clark exploration, and done in much more comfort, thanks to our beautiful Airstream, Diva, nevertheless has been exhilarating. There is nothing like seeing the places for yourself to allow you to imagine the hardships they faced.

Ciao, Frank

* In 1492, when Columbus "discovered" America and misnamed it as the Indies, there were about 50,000,000 people living in North America. These people were called "Indians" by Europeans for centuries. Other terms, including aboriginal, indigenous, "First People", Native Americans, and the derogatory terms "red skins" and "savages", have been used. In a recent census poll of people who self-classified themselves as indigenous, 50% preferred "American Indian" or just "Indian". 35% preferred "Native American" and the rest had no preference. So I will use  American Indian in these blogs (out of deference to my India, Indian friends).

** No one knows how to  spell or say her name. She was a Shoshone girl who was captured by the Hidatsa and sold or traded to a French trapper. Her name in Shoshone was translated into Hidatsa and then interpreted by Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark were very inventive with their spelling of common English words let alone a Shoshone/Hidatsa girl's name. Wikepedia says, " Lewis and Clark's original journals mention Sacagawea by name seventeen times, spelled eight different ways, each time with a "g". Clark used Sahkahgarwea, Sahcahgagwea, Sarcargahwea andSahcahgahweah, while Lewis used Sahcahgahwea, Sahcahgarweah, Sahcargarweah and Sahcahgar Wea." In North Dakota she is generally called Sakakawea.  There is a Lake Sakakwea in North Dakota. There is also a Sakakwea Trail in North Dakota. Hidatsa uses very little stress in words so that Sacagawea or Sakakwea is said evenly without stress. I asked several guides at the various interpretive centers to say her name and each time I got something different.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lewis & Clark Adventure: Pow wow at Council Bluffs, Omaha, Sioux City.

Where are we anyway? Since the Missouri River separates several states from several other states (like Iowa and Nebraska) and since we travelled over the bridges so often we have to keep reminding ourselves where we are.

 We spent a few days in Council Bluffs, Iowa but, visited Omaha, Nebraska. We are camped in South Sioux City (which is in Nebraska) but many of the sites we have seen are in Sioux City (in Iowa). To makes matters worse, there is a North Sioux City, South Dakota.

Meriwether Lewis's dog, Seaman in a pirogue. Seaman was the only non-human on the adventure.
At the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Nebraska City (yes, in Nebraska) 

View of the Missouri From the Interpretive Center

A short walk from the Center are some mock-up earthen mound houses used by the native people of the region.

Inside these homes had lots of room for large families.

In Omaha, Nebraska, The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters, is the main administrative center for the National Park Service to care for all of its' holdings and joint activities along the entire Lewis and Clark Trail. It's a nice place to visit if you need information about the trail, maps, guides, etc. The is a small display of L&C artifacts in the lobby. Outside, there are some nice statues commemorating the working people of America.


This reminded me of some of the art I saw on a trip to The Soviet Union, back during the cold war. Most of the art there was "social realism," that is it glorified the Russian people and government

We found the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa to be somewhat disappointing. It seemed like a nice display but the lighting was very poor making it hard to read the information or to see the details of the displays.

We are spending a week in the Sioux City area. We needed some time to catch our breath, to post some blogs, to do laundry, etc. We also loved the campground in South Sioux City, Nebraska. I will
be doing a special blog on the campground itself.

Well, you turn a corner and look what you run into, Nebraska's most recent set of quintuplets. They were born in July 2013 at 28 weeks of gestation (out of 40). They weighed 10 lbs altogether. Mom sure seems happy and relaxed.

Here's four of them, all that would fit in the largest stroller. Read more about them here.

The Sioux City, Iowa Public Museum was a treat. First of all it is free. There is a standing exhibition of the local history, including Lewis & Clark, of course. But there is also a 10 min movie about the development of Sioux City. Once we stole all the land from the native people, around 1853, the area was set for "civilization". Really, the display pays tribute to all of the people who have played a role in Sioux City's history.

The original corn palace was built as a tourist attraction. Every year a new one was constructed.

Talk about being kicked around. The Winnebago Tribe was kicked out of their home 3 times.
There is a Ho-Chunk Plaza, street, and other references in the area.

The people of Sioux City are justly proud of their actions in the aftermath of United Flight 232's crash at the airport. Of 296 people aboard, 185 survived. The Iowa National Guard was on duty at the airport by chance. People came from all over the area to help care for, feed, and shelter the survivors.

Sgt. Charles Floyd Memorial, Sioux City, Iowa.
Sgt. Charles Floyd became very ill when the Corps reached the Sioux City area. Capt. Lewis, who had studied medicine for 2 weeks a year before leaving, diagnosed him "bilious colic". Modern investigators feel that he had a ruptured appendix. He was the only member of the entire crew to die on the journey.

Sgt. Floyd was buried on a bluff above the Missouri River, about 200 yards from this memorial. The Missouri is visible in this picture. That part of the river bank had already eroded when the Corp came back 2 years later. They reburied him but erosion disrupted his grave. Only fragments of his bones are buried here.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is Sioux City, Iowa, is one of the best we have seen. It focuses on the events that happened to the Expedition in this area. There are dozens of large original oils like this one, depicting the burial of Sgt. Floyd. The Corps, a unit of the U.S. Army wore full dress uniforms on a regular basis.

This painting shows the capture of Pvt. Moses Reed who deserted.

The Court Martial of Pvt Moses Reed. He was found guilty of desertion and sentenced to run the gauntlet. He was dishonorably discharged. He spent the winter in quarters, under hard labor, and was sent back with the keel boat in the spring. 10 other men went back, bringing notes, maps, and specimens to Jefferson.

Attached to the Interpretive Center is a museum of South Dakota heritage. There were two fantastic photographic exhibits on display. The "Children of St. Augustine Indian Mission, by Don Doll, a Jesuit.

All of the children are photographed in full regalia and with some comment by the child. Most wanted to  be doctors, teachers, or some other profession.

The other exhibit was of Black & Whites of rural Nebraska schools.

I will not chew gum. I will not chew gum.

We ate at a fantastic diner in South Sioux City. We each ordered one pancake butthey were so large, neither of us could finish, I tried out a new hair style while there.

A Black & White of my own. At Hooker Falls in Dupont State Forest, near Brevard, NC

Ciao, Frank