"Chouteau Society Marker - Lewis & Clark Point" Downtown Tip by yooperprof

Downtown, Kansas City: 14 reviews and 28 photos

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by yooperprof

The Chouteau Society is a local club dedicated to educating the community about the importance of French heritage in the Kansas City region. They have sponsored a series of historic markers throughout the metroplex, including this one at Lewis & Clark Point. If you expand the photo, you can read what they have to say.

What? You say that your French is a little rusty? Okay, here is a partial translation:

The French-speaking community made a significant contribution to the ultimate success of the epochal Lewis & Clark expedition. The St. Louis Chouteau brothers, fur traders Auguste and Pierre, lodged the two captains in their substantial homes many times during the winter 1803-04, and assisted them in procuring supplies, boats and personnel. Pierre acted as a downstream agent and post office for the expedition.

French voyageurs had ventured up the Missouri River for over a century before 1804. In 1742, French explorers, the Verendryes, reached an area two-thirds of the way along Lewis & Clark's route in present-day Montana. Le Page du Pratz's 1758 publication "The History of Louisiana" (with accompanying maps) was a useful resource. The Indians had told the French of the Rockies and the West, including the Great Salt Lake, and of mountains a river system leading west. . .

Captain Baptiste Deschamps and his Gallic recruits took supplies and personnel in his large red pirogue (canoe) as far as the Mandan villages in present-day North Dakota. A French-Shawnee interpreter, George Drouillard, also acted as chief hunter, arbiter of disputes, and enforcer of the two captains' orders, and Lewis praised him highly in his reports. Another French-Indian interpreter, Toussaint Charbonneau, was occasionally a problem. But his young Indian wife, Sacagawea [sic], procured from her brother, a Shoshoni chief, the indispensible horses to ride over the snow-covered mountains. Her little French-Shonshoni child, Jean-Baptiste, was with her on the entire voyage, and later returned to this area to live.

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  • Updated Jul 5, 2004
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