AP photo by Rick Bowmer
The Corps of Discovery (AKA the Lewis and Clark Expedition...) Overwintered in a fort they built near the mouth of the Columbia River from December of 1805 though March of 1806. The fort was named Fort Clatsop after the local Clatsop Tribe of the Chinook Nation. During the winter, the explorers traded with the local native Americans for supplies and information that helped keep them alive. In the spring when they were ready to leave, however, the Corps of Discovery did their hosts a great wrong.
As they prepared to leave, they discovered that they were short one canoe needed to head home - so they stole one from a local tribe. This was a significant ethical departure for the expedition, because they had agreed not to steal from the native American peoples. This was also a significant insult to their hosts as the canoes were considered a sacred part of their culture as well as being a valuable mode of transportation.
Now, over 200 years later, the decendants of William Clark have decided to set things right. They commissioned the building of a 36 foot replica canoe named "Klmin" which translates as "moon".
Seventh generations later, decendants of Clark including Lotsie Clark Holton and others travelled to Oregon to give the canoe to the Chinook People. It was celebrated with a 5 hour ceremony that included the exchange of gifts, blessing of the canoe and its launching.
Ray Gardner, chairman of the Chinook Nation's tribal council, says the gesture is a “good place to begin healing.”
OK, a little late, but a fantastic gesture!