Dear History Professor E. Ortiz,
It is I French Student Francis-Jacques, Remember me? It has been 7 years since i have graduated from your class in top honors and what a special letter i have for you. In this letter I will explain every step we took on what is now called the great "Lewis and Clark Expedition" and the many troubles which lied ahead of us..
It had been announced! The first United States expedition was about to take place. As a French boatmen I took great honor on my chance of becoming a part of history which maybe the main reason that Willaim Clark choose me. But still the worry of death and mystery behind those hills played with my mind.
Captains Meriweather Lewis and Willaim Clark begin enlisting myself and other men along the Mississippi River until all 40 members of the band departed on May 14, 1804. The men and I tried quickly to move up the Missouri River with a large keelboat and 2 smaller vessels holding 10 tons of cargo which was a difficult task. We entered St. Charles Camp were a group of proud French people welcomed us, this is were we finished our final adjustments to our vessels. Off we set back to the same route up the Missouri River which showed many signs of Native American lands up ahead.
We then moved up to open plains looking for the Otie Tribe which was sure to help us, Clark and Lewis sent out some of men to scout for these natives. Luck seemed to be on our side as we encountered the Otie Tribe and set up a council called the "Council Bluffs". We then left and set camp near The Sioux territory were our captains and 10 other men (myself included) attempted to meet the surviving Omahas. Staying for a week we never met the Ohamas so we continued but bad news was soon to come, A good friend of mine Sergeant Floyd, died of a ruptured appendix. This would later be the only death in the band but it was a tragic one to say the least.
Proceeding to find the new land we saw a native American informing us that the Yankton Sioux was nearby. Lewis than met up with the Yankton Sioux and delivered what i thought was a excellent speech and also gave many gifts. We had a great time till the Yankton didnt want us to pass down the river luckily we avoided problems and headed down our way.
As we moved towards South Dakota we saw strange new animals such as a one which was fuzzy and bounced around., We called it a Jackrabbit. There was also antelope, mule deer, blackbilled magpie and coyote. I wrote many descriptions attached to the back of the journal. In South Dakota, the Arikara village Mandan Indian's were amazed by York, William Clark's slave, because of his dark skin color as well as his size and figure.
Our first winter was spent with the Mandan Indian at their villages in North Dakota. This was were we built ourselves a fort and planned on sending Jefferson information on how the expedition was going so far. This is were we met a very beautiful and very helpful lady named Sakakawea. Sakakawea helped in many ways, she was a translator as well as a guide but her skills for being a guide were very limited. At our Fort called Fort Mandan we received many visits with Canadian and British employees of the North West Company. This resulted in helping us have friendly relations with the Mandan and other tribes near by.
The Great Falls of Missouri... Possibly the worst words i would ever want to hear from a person. The band faced many difficult challenges but nothing was such a obstacle than the Great Falls, hard rain and hot heat exhausted us all but still we maintained. It took two hard weeks of hell to cover the falls but we managed to unload our canoes and head South.
Trails then led us onto the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass in Idaho. This is where we met with The Shoshones who welcomed us great fully, a amazing moment was held, Chief Kamaeahwait from the Shoshones turned out to be the brother of Sakakawea which was a very emotional reunion for the two.
The Columbia River was one that the Natives truly feared. They warned Lewis and Clark to not shoot down the great narrow falls but still we accomplished the life threatening river and continued. Within Days it was found... Our Expedition had made History, We had reached the Pacific! There we built a camp called Fort Clatsop located along side the Columbia. We had named it Fort Clatsop because of the friendly local tribe, the Clatsops lived there.
Now we needed to give the great news to Jefferson and the rest of America. Returning was was pretty easy except for the minor problems, Lewis, a friend, and myself returned to the U.S. but on our way we had a little problem with the Blackfoot Confederacy who attempted to steal our horses and supplies. Lewis was not in a good mood for this, 8 Piegans surrounded us but luckily Lewis was wise and killed 2 scaring the others away. Later Lewis was shot by my friend in the thigh, he was blind in one eye so you couldn't expect much right? Finally we made it to the Colonies and were now known as the "Lewis and Clark Expedition"
Merci (Thank You) For all your help in history