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Spring is a great time to start thinking about summer holidays, whether they’ll be in the wilderness or the West. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who sailed from St. Louis on May 15, 1804, are the subject of this year’s National Parks Day commemorations. Young men and women of all ages will enjoy reading about this historic adventure, which features such memorable personalities as Lewis and Clark, as well as Sacagawea and Thomas Jefferson, as well as challenging terrain, thrilling near-death experiences, and tense encounters with Native Americans. Many other major issues and concepts are raised by this tale, including the Louisiana Purchase, the Westward Expansion movement, and the idea of Manifest Destiny. (Have I mentioned how much I adore this topic?) Possibly because I was born and raised in the St. Louis area.) Someday, I’d like to take my sons along with me as we follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. These videos are an excellent place to begin on a dreary spring day.
Thanks to interns Andrew McDonnell, Liz McInerney, and Elisabeth Hoyson for their assistance.
Best videos on Lewis and Clark
1. National Geographic: Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West
Lewis and Clark’s search for the Northwest Passage is chronicled in this stunning film about their journey.
2. Echoes of a Bitter Crossing
Lewis and Clark’s expedition through what is now Idaho was challenging and memorable at the same time. In August 1805, the Corps of Discovery walked across Lemhi Pass and paddled out of Idaho in a dugout canoe. A straightforward Northwest Passage was never possible for the Expedition during those two months, and only the Shoshonis and Nez Perce tribes were able to save the expedition from a certain doom in the Bitterroot Mountains.
3. The Song of Sacajawea
Lewis and Clark’s epic journey from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean was made possible by a young Native American lady who braved great danger to lead them there. Laura Dern provides the narration, while the film’s score, performed by the renowned string instrumentalist David Lindley, is both beautiful and powerful.
4. Lewis and Clark Among the Tribes
Because they were traveling places no one had ever been before, they called themselves the Corps of Discovery. With each step away from civilized eastern shores, they encountered new civilizations. We have always regarded these interactions through the prism of Lewis and Clark’s writings. For Native Americans, the moment has come to correct the record and tell the full tale.
5. Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, along with soldiers, an African American slave, a female guide, and Canadian boatmen, undertook the most significant expedition in American history. Lewis and Clark’s expedition is chronicled in “American Lives” episodes 12 and 13.
6. Lewis and Clark in Idaho
The expedition led by Lewis and Clark was the first to set foot in the state of Idaho. But the Expedition was nearly wiped out by the fabled trip across Idaho’s Bitterroot Mountains. Join a group of modern-day explorers on the most difficult section of the Lewis and Clark Trail.
7. Journals of Lewis and Clark
This is a collection of 35 one-minute video clips from Lewis and Clark’s journals.
You can read their diary entries to follow along their footsteps.
Distinguished Senior Fellow for the Education Commission of the States and President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Michael J. Petrilli is also a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and Executive Editor of Education Next. A renowned author…