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Elliott West, Distinguished Professor, University of Arkansas


The Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804–1806 was not only one of the great American adventures; it was also one of the most revealing episodes of the early years of the American republic. In this seminar we will follow the story of the Corps of Discovery on its journey up the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains, down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean, and back to St. Louis, and we will explore what this remarkable story can teach us about the youthful nation and the extraordinary range of peoples and cultures of western North America.

The seminar will be based at the University of Montana in Missoula, close to where the Corps began its crossing of the Bitterroot Mountains. Teachers will visit some of the sites of the journey and will follow part of its route during one of the expedition’s most critical and harrowing passages. The seminar will pay particular attention to encounters with Indian peoples and their accounts of those meetings, exploring how Lewis and Clark and their Indian counterparts regarded (and often misunderstood) one another. With the help of several guest speakers we will study Lewis and Clark’s contributions—to science, exploration, and diplomacy—as well as their failures. More broadly, we will look at the expedition as the convergence of peoples at a time of great global change, explore some of the many native cultures in western North America, and see this famous national event in the context of global exploration. And we will consider what the expedition can tell us about America at the opening of the nineteenth century—its values and aspirations, the goals of its leaders as they looked westward, the perceptions of native peoples and their place in the expanding nation, and the emerging vision of an empire reaching from sea to sea.


Readings are sent by the Institute to seminar participants. Please check back soon for a list of readings.

Travel & Accommodations

The University of Montana is located in Missoula about ten minutes from the Missoula International Airport. Several ground transporation options are available from the airport to campus.

Workshop participants will be housed in on-campus residence halls. Participants will have single bedrooms but will share bathrooms and common space on each floor. The university provides basic bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring a cell phone, fan, shower shoes, alarm clock, shampoo, hangers, iron, hair dryer, etc. Participants should plan to bring laptops as computer access on campus will be limited.


Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Travel Reimbursement

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar. Each seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Please read our complete travel reimbursement policy before applying.

Graduate Credit

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit in American history to participating seminar teachers. For more information click here.


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

July 13th, 2014 5:00 PM   through   July 19th, 2014 12:00 AM
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
United States

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Seminar Fee
Attending $50.00
Not Attending $0.00

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