MENLO PARK, Calif. – The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has announced a $2 million grant to support the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, a commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the historic journey by explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. In cooperation with state, federal, and tribal governments, the National Council promotes educational programs, cultural awareness, and the stewardship of natural and historical resources along the route of the expedition. Commemorative events will take place over four years in scores of communities from coast to coast along the Lewis and Clark Trail.
“The journey of Lewis and Clark embodies the pioneering spirit of American history,” said Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest. “The goal of the National Council is to commemorate and to seriously consider how this journey helped shape the American wilderness, the future of native peoples, and, in the largest sense, the history of the country. Our grant supports this multifaceted approach to understanding the significance of the expedition and its history-altering aftermath.” Brest noted that in addition to the inherent historical and cultural importance of the National Council’s agenda, the events and exhibitions underscore several program areas important to the Foundation, particularly those with a focus on the American West and environmental restoration.
Lewis and Clark and their party were greeted by more than 100 American Indian nations as they made their way across the continent at the beginning of the 19th century. As part of the National Council’s efforts, a handful of the nations along the Lewis and Clark Trail gathered and formed the Circle of Tribal Advisors of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial (COTA) to ensure an inclusive vision for the commemoration. By April 2002, COTA’s membership included more than half of the 58 modern tribal governments representing the 114 nations encountered by Lewis and Clark. COTA seeks to employ the bicentennial as an opportunity to preserve and celebrate the tribes’ native lands, cultures, and languages and to present their points of view about the expedition. It also hopes to address current issues of critical importance to native communities.
The participation of COTA was an important element in the Foundation’s decision to support the effort, according to Hewlett Foundation Vice President Susan Bell.
“What makes the bicentennial initiative so dynamic is the degree to which it brings together many elements of the American identity,” Bell said. “We are pleased that the Foundation can play a role in promoting a national dialogue around these issues and hope this grant will encourage other organizations to support the National Council’s efforts.”
The National Council will coordinate numerous bicentennial commemoration programs, including:
A series of official signature events in 15 communities along the route from what is today Virginia to Oregon that will coincide with key expedition dates;
The National Tribal Awareness Campaign to highlight Native Americans’ experiences with the expedition;
The Trail Stewardship Campaign to encourage greater awareness and promote stewardship of the nation’s trails, rivers, and forests;
The Corps of Discovery II, a traveling museum that will make stops in 400 communities in 19 states along the Lewis and Clark Trail.
The Hewlett Foundation grant will be distributed over four years and supports the oversight of core commemoration activities, construction of a website, and funding of key staff to coordinate the national awareness campaigns.
About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1966 to improve the quality of life of people at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, environment, performing arts, population, conflict resolution, and U.S.-Latin American relations. In addition, the Foundation has initiatives supporting neighborhood improvement, philanthropy, and global affairs.
About The National Council for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennials
The National Council for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial is a private, nonprofit organization, congressionally designated to coordinate the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration. The National Council is recognized by a presidential proclamation, and its Circle of Tribal Advisors has resolutions of support from the National Congress of American Indians. As noted in its mission statement, the National Council hopes to “rekindle [the expedition’s] spirit of discovery and acclaim the contributions and goodwill of the native peoples.” Its programs and events seek to commemorate the journey that shaped the boundaries and history of the United States.