A Narrative History of the Montana Heritage Project



Rediscovering Lewis and Clark

Dottie Susag

Simms High School

2000-01

Six juniors at Simms High School participated in a special honors project funded by an Orion Fellowship (one of eleven awarded nationwide) to do a detailed study of Lewis and Clark in the Sun River Valley and Great Falls region. The team met before school on Thursday mornings to plan their ongoing work. They read Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, attended lectures in Great Falls by anthropologist Dr. Karsminksi, and reconstructed a typical campsite under the direction of Michael Lamphier of the Lewis and Clark Honor Guard. As part of this re-creation, each student researched and wrote an interpretive essay on two artifacts or replicas used by the Corps of Discovery, to use as labels for a photographic recreation of a typical camp. Students set up a complete camp with lean-tos, weapons, cooking pots, beaver tails, bull boats, a dug-out canoe made by classes the year before, knives and dozens of other items used by the Corps of Discovery. They then photographed the scene carefully, including close-ups of artifacts.

They read entries from the Journals about the specific sites they decided to locate and visit, used longitude and latitude readings to place them in Global Positioning System (GPS) software on a map of the river. With this information, they were able to get legal descriptions of the sites and then find the current owners through research at the courthouse. Dave Walter at the Historical Society assisted them in getting copies of the original deeds to each site. Much of this material created in this project has been placed on a special website. Students created computer-generated map of Lewis and Clark camp sites along the Sun River, and their detailed studies of four sites where the Corps of Discovery camped were used for research papers as well as a multimedia show that they presented at the Heritage Project summer institute and at the Lewis and Clark Discovery Center in Great Falls.

To print a final report for the year-end binder, click here.
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2001 Montana Heritage Project
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