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'Stop Lewis and Clark Movement' Urges Historical Accuracy

'Stop Lewis and Clark Movement' Urges Historical Accuracy

'Stop Lewis and Clark Movement' Urges Historical Accuracy

By Brenda Norell
Indian Country Today
May 17, 2005
PONCA, Okla. - American Indians opposing the Discovery Expedition's Lewis and Clark re-enactment say it is time for history to be written from the perspective of Native people, which shows the westward expansion was one of genocide and the loss of land and buffalo for Indian people.

Carter Camp, Ponca and longtime member of the American Indian Movement, is among the organizers of the ''Stop Lewis and Clark Movement.'' The inter-tribal group carried out protests in the fall and now urges Indian tribes in Montana to continue protests of the expedition.

''Lewis and Clark did not come on an excursion to make friends with the tribes,'' Camp told Indian Country Today.

''They came on a trip of conquest. They were an exploration party and responsible for everything that happened subsequently: the loss of our land, killing of our buffalo and other animals and the stealing of our wealth.

''They were planning this. Th ey came here from the East and knew what happened to the tribes there. They knew what was going to happen.''

Camp said the celebration of Lewis and Clark in Indian country is a myth based on lies.

''We have to expose them.''

On Pine Ridge in South Dakota, Carter Camp's son Vic Camp urged tribes in Montana to meet the Lewis and Clark Expedition reenactment with protests during the ongoing commemorations there.

Carter and Vic Camp joined Alex White Plume, now vice president of the Oglala Sioux Nation of Pine Ridge, S.D.; his wife, Deb White Plume; Lakota elder Floyd Hand; and longtime activists Russell Means and Alfred Bone Shirt for protests in South Dakota in 2004.

''I am really happy we protested the Lewis and Clark Expedition,'' Vic Camp told ICT in a telephone interview from his home on Pine Ridge tribal land in Manderson, S.D.

''Lewis and Clark were the beginning of the end for our people.''

Vic Camp said because of their protests and efforts of education, Scott Mandrell, portraying Meriwether Lewis, withdrew from the expedition. Mandrell, who also made a public announcement of his withdrawal, told Vic Camp in an e-mail that he left the expedition because of the Lakota, Ponca and Navajo protests and the education he received from them.

''That was a great victory for us,'' Vic Camp told ICT.

Vic Camp questioned why the true history of American Indians is not told in classrooms in the United States. Even at Pine Ridge High School, he said, students were not given the accurate history.

''When I was in school, I was never told that Wounded Knee was a massacre. I was told it was a battle. Now it is acknowledged that it was a massacre.

''Those of us with grandmas and grandpas told us all along it was a massacre.''

Pointing out that Medals of Honor were given to the soldiers who carried out the Massacre at Wounded Knee, he said, ''They k illed women and children and unarmed men.

''We want the truth to be told; we want people to be educated.

''Our story is not being told, and when it is, it is mostly lies told by the white man. This is why we are protesting Lewis and Clark.''

Last September, the Stop Lewis and Clark Movement protesters met the expedition in Chamberlain, S.D.

On the banks of the Missouri River, Carter Camp told the re-enactors what Lewis and Clark brought to Indian people: ''What they wrote down was a blueprint for the genocide of my people. You are re-enacting something ugly, evil and hateful.

''You are re-enacting the coming of death to our people. You are re-enacting genocide.''

Deb White Plume, Lakota, gave a blanket to the Lewis and Clark re-enactors and called it ''a symbolic blanket of smallpox.''

''The genocide of our people has been very thorough in many ways, in many indigenous nations - look at how many of our own people have h ad their Lakota spirits taken away. They are no longer Lakota in their spirits - they have been colonized to think they are American and so they stand with Lewis and Clark,'' she said in a written statement to the expedition.

''Native nations along the Lewis and Clark route need to stand up and protest this torture of re-living our own holocaust. What would people say if there was a reenactment of the Jewish holocaust? Our Native nations lost millions of people to the aftermath of the Lewis and Clark entry to our lands. No one would be asking why there was a protest if the Jewish holocaust had a re-enactment,'' said White Plume.

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

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