The journey of Lewis and Clark and what they found when they arrived in Mandan, North Dakota
|2576 8th St. SW
Washburn, ND 58577
|Intersection of US Hwy 83 and ND Hwy 200A, Washburn, North Dakota
— 38 miles north of Bismarck
Children 5 and under: Free
The Lewis and Clark Interpretation Center in Washburn, North Dakota tells the story of Lewis and Clark’s arrival in the area in 1804. There are permanent exhibitions depicting the Lewis and Clark story, those who followed – including German Prince Maximilian zu Wied and Swiss painter Karl Bodmer ( the 81 aquatint prints they published are among the most valuable visual documents of the American West) and the farming traditions of the first nations (Mandan and Hidatsa) who tended the land prior to, and after Lewis and Clark’s arrival.
The visitor centre is very impressive and we spent a good hour and a half going through the exhibits covering the journey of Lewis and Clark, with a particular focus on the time they spent in Washburn, and the life of the native Americans who lived in the area. Lewis and Clark huddled up in the area to ride out the winter and befriended the local native Americans, the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes. One of the Hidatsa squaws, Sacagawea, who was married to a local French-Canadian fur trader Toussaint Charbonneau, later joined Lewis and Clark and the Corps on their journey to Oregon. The story is that Sacagawea was from the Shoshone nation and was kidnapped by the Hidatsa. Her name in the Hidatsa tongue is Sakakewea – which confused Emily initially who had studied her story at school. Lewis and Clark chose to take her on their journey primarily because they planned to traverse Shoshone territory and required her help as a translator. Shortly before they left she had a baby which she carried with her whilst she journeyed with the Exploration Corps across unknown and sometimes hostile territory. All of this was documented in the diaries of Mssrs Lewis and Clark but what happened to Sakakawea in later years is less known, and this has all contributed to her mythical status.