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Lesson 7
Lewis and Clark and Native Americans, Part III

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Identify and describe the values and practices of Native American tribes with which the Corps of Discovery interacted;
  • Highlight the contributions these tribes made to the Corps of Discovery’s efforts;
  • Examine the culture of other Native American tribes existing during the time of the expedition.


This lesson correlates to the national McREL standards located online at

United States History

Standard 9: Understands the United States territorial expansion between 1801 and 1861, and how it affected relations with external powers and Native Americans

Historical Understanding

Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective


  • Computers with Internet Access, word processing, graphics, and video capabilities (preferred features)
  • A copy of Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (To order, visit ShopPBS)
  • A television and VCR or DVD player
  • A digital Camera
  • A video Camera
  • Various art supplies, such as poster board, markers, glue, stencils, and construction paper
  • Lesson 7 Student Activity Sheets (downloadable with Adobe Acrobat):

Time Needed

4-6 hours of class time

Teaching Strategy

Background Materials

  1. Using information from the film and prior knowledge, ask students to discuss what they know about Native American tribes, particularly how they existed prior to the arrival of explorers, pioneers, and other Europeans to their lands and how they interacted with newcomers.

  2. Explain to (or remind) students that while Lewis and Clark are widely recognized for their exploration of the land west of the Mississippi, they came upon areas already inhabited by Native Americans. Specific tribes assisted the Corps of Discovery in multiple ways. Invite students to recall (from the film) the type of help these tribes provided the expedition, as well as any features that provide information about their culture, values, way of living, etc. Tell them they will have the opportunity to learn more about these and other Native American tribes

  3. Divide students into pairs or small groups representing Sacagawea, Mandan, Shoshone, and Nez Perce (several teams will share groups, depending on the number of students). Instruct the teams to research their tribes, using the activity sheets to guide and record some of their findings. Invite them to select a project from the Project Activity Sheet or to present their data in a format of their choice.

    Helpful resources include the Archive, Native Americans, and Inside the Corps sections of this Web site.

    Specific film segments:
    • Sacagawea, York, Mandans: Part I, 00:51:00-01:00:00
    • Sacagawea, Shoshones: Part II, 00:03:36-00:12:15
    • Sacagawea, Shoshones, Nez Perce: Part II, 00:23:50-00:29:30
    • Sacagawea and York: Part II, 00:40:45-00:44:25
    • Sacagawea and Nez Perce: Part II, 01:00:25-01:04:40
    • Sacagawea and York: Part II, 01:24:45-01:29:40

    Journal entries from the Archive section of this Web site:
    • Clark, 10/9/04: York
    • Clark, 10/25/04: Mandans
    • Gass, 10/29/04: Mandans
    • Ordway, 11/30/04: Mandans
    • Clark, 12/21/04: Mandans
    • Gass, 12/22/04: Mandans
    • Ordway, 12/22/04: Mandans
    • Whitehouse, 12/22/04: Mandans
    • Clark, 1/1/05: York
    • Clark, 1/5/05: Mandans
    • Lewis, 2/11/05: Sacagawea
    • Gass, 4/8/05: Sacagawea
    • Clark, 6/10-11/05: Sacagawea
    • Lewis, 6/16/05: Sacagawea
    • Lewis, 8/11/05: Shoshone
    • Lewis, 8/13/05: Shoshone
    • Lewis, 8/15/05: Shoshone
    • Lewis and Clark, 8/17/05: Shoshone
    • Lewis, 8/18-20/05: Shoshone
    • Gass, 8/20/05: Shoshone
    • Ordway, 8/30/05: Shoshone
    • Clark, 9/20/05: Nez Perce
    • Lewis, 9/22/05: Nez Perce
    • Clark, 11/24/05: Sacagawea
    • Lewis and Clark, 5/5-6/06: Nez Perce
    • Gass, 7/4/06: Nez Perce
    • Clark, 8/17/06: Sacagawea, Mandans

Online Resources

    Circle of Stories


    Seth Eastman: Painting the Dakota

    Matters of Race

    The West

    See Online Resources in this site’s Archive section for additional information about Native Americans

Assessment Recommendations

It is recommended that teachers and students develop oral or written assessment tools that help students evaluate their individual student projects. Teachers may also evaluate students on their involvement in group participation and class discussion, as well as their willingness and/or ability to conduct effective research and report on their findings.


Students can:

  • Organize an “Evening with Lewis and Clark” where they present to their families, friends, community members, teachers, students, etc. background on the expedition with an emphasis on the role of Native Americans in this journey.

  • Present their projects to younger grades as a way to introduce them to the Native American culture.

  • Create a map that highlights the placement of Native Americans over the last 200 years, noting tribes that no longer exist, have moved, live on reservations, etc.

  • Design a descriptive timeline that highlights the existence of a specific Native American tribe.