White Catfish Camp at Western Historic Trails Center Celebrates Historic Exploration up the Missouri River

For immediate release June 21, 2005



Contact: Contact: Jeff Morgan, (515) 281-3858

DES MOINES – The Western Historic Trails Center will be the site this weekend for White Catfish Camp, a celebration of the Corps of Discovery explorers who made camp near Council Bluffs in 1804 during their historic journey up the Missouri River.

The activities take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day of the camp. For more information, call Western Historic Trails Center at (712) 366-4900.

Admission is free. Food and souvenirs will be available for purchase.

About two months after its expedition began in St. Charles, Mo., the explorers made camp July 22-27, 1804 near present-day Council Bluffs, Iowa, to repair equipment and make astronomical observations. On July 24, one of the explorers, Silas Goodrich, caught an albino catfish, which gave the camp its name.

Friday through Sunday, their history comes to life with three days of history, children’s activities, Native American dancing, storytelling, art and food. Bat Shunatona, the great-great-great-great-grandson of (Chief) Big Horse, who actually talked to Lewis and Clark, will talk about his family history and the First Tribal Council held with Lewis & Clark on Aug. 3, 1804. More than 7,500 people attended the celebration last year as part of the bicentennial celebration of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

Highlights this year include “Music of the Trail,” the Iron Bull dancers – Winnebago Tribe, Songs of Lewis & Clark by Mary Green Vickery, and presentations such as “Military Aspects of the Expedition,” by Joe Maher, “The Death of Sgt. Floyd,” by Bev Hinds, and “What is Your Value Worth?” by Renae Hunt. Participants may also explore a keelboat replica of the one used by the Corps of Discovery and learn more about it from boat builder Butch Bouvier.

Other activities will include Dale Clark of Grand Island, Neb., who will appear in costume as Sgt. Patrick Gass, a member of the Corps of Discovery who was given a leadership position after the death of Sgt. Charles Floyd.

Gass guided some of the crew's technical work, laying out and building forts and modifying the keelboat, Clark said. He also kept a journal. He was chosen to deliver to William Clark's brother the captain's letter about the trip that was eventually given to Jefferson. Later, Gass fought in the War of 1812 and lost an eye while chopping wood. He still volunteered to fight in the Civil War but was turned away. Clark will also bring historical memorabilia to show the audience.

Other presenters and topics will include:

- Steve Adams, superintendent of the Lewis & Clark Trail, will talk about activities coming up after the bicentennial celebration.

- Joe Maher, an Eagle Scout candidate, will talk about the military aspect of the expedition.

- Dewey Brockmann will discuss events leading up to the trip.

- Bev Hinds of Sioux City, a Lewis and Clark scholar and historian, will talk about the death of Sgt. Floyd. She appears courtesy of the Humanities Iowa Speakers Bureau.

- Kathy Wood and Jenni Wallace-Grate will perform songs from the time of Lewis and Clark on voice and stringed instruments.

- Wynema Morris, who has worked for the tribal history program, will talk about two members of the Omaha Tribe who went on the expedition.

- Renae Hunt, educator from Grand Island, Neb., will talk about unpaid members of the Corps - Sacagawea; Sacagawea's son, John Baptiste Charboneau, also known as "Pomp"; York, a black slave; and the dog.

- Butch Bouvier, boatwright of Onawa and Council Bluffs, will talk about the boats used in the expedition.

- Mary Green Vickery, who appeared at the center in April, sings songs from the Lewis and Clark era and talks about the musical history of the time.

- Matt Jones, Otoe/Missouria tribal historian and storyteller, will also speak.

In addition, visitors will get to see a full-size replica of the keelboat used by Lewis & Clark during their voyage up the Missouri River. It will be on display throughout the weekend. Discovery Corps historic re-enactors will set up camp Friday night and cook over an open fire, conduct military drills and answer questions from the public all weekend. Children will enjoy crafts and games, including fish printing that calls for dipping a mold in paint and using it to print the outline of a fish on paper or a shirt.

See event schedule »


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