President Thomas Jefferson's primary objective in sending Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery to explore for a river route to the Pacific in 1803 was to sow the seeds for trade and commerce in the northwest.
Through November 15, Maryhill Museum will spotlight that aspect of their epoch adventure in a new intimate exhibit titled Lewis & Clark At Maryhill.
Curated by noted authors Mary Schlick and Rex Ziak, the exhibit features original Native American artifacts comparable to those Lewis & Clark collected and documented while in the Columbia River Gorge along with quotes from the Corps of Discovery journals describing such objects; objects that Native Americans had been using for generations to produce merchandise for trade.
"Maryhill's vast collection of Native American objects made it possible for us to pull together a wonderful exhibit illustrating the fullness of Native American culture at the time the Corps traded with tribes in the region," said Mary Schlick. "Everything from horn bowls and spoons to fish hooks and baskets made just for cooking."
"There was great joy with the natives last night in consequence of the arrival of the Salmon," wrote William Clark on April 19, 1806. The exhibit brings quotes such as this to life by displaying related artifacts like deer bone fish hooks, a fish gig, and fishing lines made of silk grass. In October 1805 and again on April 22, 1806 the Corps walked across much of the 6000 acres the Museum now holds."
"This stretch of the Columbia River served as the Wall Street of the Northwest," said Rex Ziak. "A site of great seasonal gatherings, a place where anything could be traded."
Many of the objects in the museum's Native American exhibitions were gifted to it by the Mary Underwood Lane family. Lane was related to Chief Welawa (Chenoweth) of the Cascade Tribe. Her grandmother, Sally Wa-chi-chus attended the famous council held by Lewis and Clark at the Cascades of the Columbia during the Corps' stay in the Gorge.
The association of these family heirlooms with Sally Wa-chi-chus indicates that some of them are of the same era, style and materials as those documented and collected by the Corps of Discovery.