Wanda Sue Pillow
TRACING MEANINGS OF THE 1804 CORPS EXPEDITION: STORIES OF MANIFEST DESTINY, CONFLUENCE OF CULTURES, AND INVASION
Fall 2003 begins a four-year bicentennial celebration and reflection on the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition (1804-06); heralded as the event that opened the West, it continues to spark the interest of scholars and the general public. Indeed, the Corps is the topic of best-selling popular histories and documentaries and inspires a multimillion-dollar tourism industry that allows participants to reenact events of the expedition and retrace the trail of Lewis and Clark.
Like many historical events, the Corps expedition yields conflicting interpretations and emotional debates about what it does or should mean to us now. For example, what does the expedition say about who America was and is? During her Center appointment, Professor Pillow will work to identify shifting historical and present-day representations, interpretations, and uses of the Corps expedition in popular culture, political discourse, and educational curricula. She will research historical and archival material along with present-day documents and artifacts related to the Corps. A particular focus on Sacajawea, the Lemhi-Shoshone Indian woman whose role in the expedition is much debated, and York, Clark’s slave who accompanied him on the expedition, should provide further insight into how the racial identities of Sacajawea and York have been used and not used to tell differing stories about the meaning of the Corps.