By Tim Lee
Twenty-five years ago, a group of driven individuals known as the Lewis and Clark Foundation broke ground with a goal that had finally been met. After eight years of celebrating Lewis and Clark and sharing the history of their travels once a year in an interactive festival, it was finally time to do what they had been dreaming of. The doors of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center opened, and a year-round interactive experience became a reality. In conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, a grand total of $6,000,000 ($13,364,000 adjusting for inflation) was used to create this experience which annually brings over 50,000 tourists from around the globe and thousands of students and school groups.
Twenty-five years later, it’s the most detailed recounting along the expedition trail. With a complete look from the beginning of their travels up to the end, the Center stands as a beacon of truth for individuals around the world. Stories of the Lewis and Clark party and Sacagawea have been twisted and contorted in fictional narrative and over time have turned into “truth” that needs to be corrected with a gentle hand and facts from the journals of the expeditioners themselves.
In celebration of the Center’s 25th anniversary, the Lewis and Clark Festival is returning for a three-day event, from June 30-July 2 starting at 9am and going to 5pm each day, with additional activities later into the evenings. During the day, you and your family will be delighted and educated with demonstrations, interactive exhibits, guided hikes, fancy dancing (Native American Dancing), book signings, craft and food vendors and a concert from Jack Gladstone, “Montana’s Troubadour.”
Some of the demonstrations that have been announced for this year’s Festival will have your eyes wide with wonder, like Honor Guard in period dress, demonstrations of navigational tools, cooking, a portage dugout presentation, and even showing some of the weapons they would have used like the atlatl and swivel gun. Enjoy demonstrations that will have you enraptured as you are introduced to live snakes, raptors, or even watch beaver skinning techniques and demonstrations on how every part of a buffalo was used by Native Americans.
Because of the generosity of the sponsors and donors, all events and presentations are free of charge, and all are welcome to join. A full schedule of events, presenters, and activities
can be found on the Lewis and Clark Foundation’s website at lewisandclarkfoundation.org/news-events and be sure to follow their Facebook at facebook.com/lewisandclarkfoundation for updates.