“Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country,” a traveling exhibition, opened Saturday, Jan. 12, and will run through Friday, Feb. 22, at Ablah Library on the Wichita State University campus.
WSU Libraries is one of only 23 libraries nationally and the only one in Kansas selected to host the exhibit, along with four Native American sites in the United States.
It’s an exciting exhibit, said Cathy Moore-Jansen, an associate professor and coordinator of WSU Libraries’ collection development. It tells the story of the explorers’ historic 1804-1806 expedition from a different point of view—that of the Indians who lived along their route. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their small group of voyagers crossed the traditional homelands of more than 50 Native American tribes.
“The exhibit examines this momentous encounter of cultures,” Moore-Jansen said, “and examines how that encounter affected the lives of the tribes which still live in the region.”
“What often gets lost in the story is that Lewis and Clark did not explore a wilderness—they traveled through an inhabited homeland,” said Frederick E. Hoxie, the exhibit’s curator and Swanlund Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country” draws upon original documents in the Native American collections of the Newberry Library, Washington State Historical Society, Minnesota Historical Society and other institutions. Photographs of handwritten documents, maps, paintings and drawings complement large story panels.
In companion exhibits, WSU’s Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology is lending its Plains Indian artifacts, and the Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives will feature 19th century maps, newspapers, drawings, letters and other writings that document the settlers’ first impressions of what was to become Kansas.