Index Inside the Corps The Native Americans The Archive Living History Into the Unknown Forum with Ken Burns Classroom Resources Related Products Interactive Trail Map Search Lewis and Clark navigation Introduction Jefferson and the West Lewis as Leader William Clark Sacagawea York's Experience Dealing with Natives Animals Discovered Less Known Stories Historical Significance Lewis and Clark navigation

In the introduction to his book Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West, author Stephen E. Ambrose explains that he and his family have been obsessed with Lewis and Clark for over 20 years. They have hiked and camped on the expedition route; one of Ambrose’s daughters was even married near a spot on the trail. He concludes the introduction with a touching expression of gratitude to the Corps of Discovery: “The Lewis and Clark experience has brought us together so many times in so many places that we [he and his wife] cannot express what it has meant to our marriage and our family.”

Ambrose’s connection to Lewis and Clark was intimate, but not unique. He and the six other experts whose knowledge fills Living History have been intellectually and emotionally gripped by the story of the expedition. Read, listen and respond to their intriguing insights about the Corps of Discovery by clicking on the questions below.

Note: To listen to our experts’ responses, you may need to download the most current version of the Real Player here.

Our Experts

John Logan Allen John Logan Allen
John Logan Allen is Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of Wyoming. He is a frequent lecturer and the author of numerous scholarly works, including Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American West.
Stephen Ambrose Stephen Ambrose
Stephen E. Ambrose was the author of many best-selling books about American history, including Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West. He died in October 2002.
Gerard Baker Gerard Baker
Gerard Baker is a full-blooded Mandan-Hidatsa from Mandaree, North Dakota. An employee of the National Park Service for more than 25 years, Baker is Superintendent of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail.
Dayton Duncan Dayton Duncan
Dayton Duncan, writer and co-producer of “Lewis and Clark” and co-author of the film’s companion book, is the author of six other books, including Out West: An American Journey along the Lewis and Clark Trail, in which he retraced the historic expedition route.
Erica Funkhouser Erica Funkhouser
Erica Funkhouser is the author of four books of poetry, Natural Affinities, The Natural World, Pursuit, Sure Shot and Other Poems.
William Least Heat-Moon William Least Heat-Moon
William Least Heat Moon is considered to be one of the finest travel writers in America. He is the author of three books, Blue Highways, PrairyErth, and River Horse, and had taught literature and writing at several colleges.
Jim Ronda James P. Ronda
James P. Ronda, Barnard Professor of West American History at the University of Tulsa, has written several books about the Lewis and Clark expedition, including Lewis and Clark Among the Indians.

The Questions

Why did Jefferson want to explore the West?

Why was Lewis an ideal leader for the Corps of Discovery?

What kind of man was William Clark?

Who was Sacagawea, and how did she aid the expedition?

What was life like for York, Clark’s black slave, during the expedition?

How did Lewis and Clark deal with the Indians they encountered?

What kinds of animals did Lewis and Clark discover?

What are some of the lesser known stories of the expedition?

What is the larger historical significance of the expedition?