South Dakota

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Lewis and Clark

     In 1804 Merriweather Lewis and William Clark were charged with the responsibility of leading a "Corps of Volunteers on an Expedition of North Western Discovery," to determine if there was a water route to the Pacific Ocean. They left St. Louis, Missouri on May 14, 1804. At that time, of course, South Dakota did not exist as a State, or even as a Territory.

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     On August 25 they climbed Spirit Mound, an isolated hill six miles north of the present Vermillion, South Dakota. Five days later they met with Yankton Nakota Indians near the present Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River. As they proceded up the River they met Teton Dakota Indians at the mouth of a river they named "Teton," today, the Bad River. On the 5th of October they reached the Chien or Dog River, which flows from the "black mountains," or Black Hills. Today it is called the Cheyenne River. A week later they met the Arikaras near the North Dakota border, and left South Dakota around October 14.

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     The Corps of Discovery built Ft. Mandan in North Dakota and passed the winter there. They met Sacagawea, a Shoshoni woman married to a French fur trader, Toussaint Charbonneau, there. She and her husband were hired to help guide the expedition. Sacagawea died at Ft. Manuel (named for Manuel Lisa) in Corson County, South Dakota December 20, 1812.

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     On their return they passed through South Dakota in late August, and arrived in St. Louis on September 23, 2006.

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