REDISCOVERING THE LEWIS AND CLARK TRAIL, AUDITING AN “AMERICAN PRESENCE”*
Between 1804 and 1806 the Lewis and Clark Expedition (aka the Corps of Discovery) traveled along the Missouri, Snake and Columbia rivers from St Louis, Missouri to what is now Astoria, Oregon. And back. Their purpose was to study the nation’s plants, animals and geography, and to establish an American Presence. To that aim, for two-plus years they explored countless rivers and overland routes, drew detailed maps, cataloged flora and fauna as well as hundreds of major topographical and geological points of interest, and established trade and relations with the local inhabitants along the entire route.
Upon their return, they published all of it in one of the most famous examples of journaling known to Humankind. Effectively, they created a stunning portrait of the American West and established, as per Thomas Jefferson’s instructions, an American Presence.
But what does that even mean? Like, wtf is an American Presence anyway, and what would a portrait of the American West look like if created today? How would it compare and contrast, what would it say about us? What if Thomas Jefferson came to Yonder Projects in our dreams or spoke to us through a medium and said, “Hey, dudes, please re-boot the Corp of Discovery and retrace the original route, but this time instead of working your way out from the center of the country to the edge, start on the edge and work your way in; now that we’re here, tell us how we are. Use the rivers and their original route as a construct, but reverse it and it remix it in an effort to re-Discover America. Never has a sense of national identity and pride and unity been more relevant and necessary than now.” What if that happened? I’ll tell you what would happen, we’d go, we’d do it. And furthermore: it did happen, we are doing it. He just forgot to cut us a check. So we’re creating a pilot project we can subsequently shop and get funded because that’s how it’s done. That pilot project is called Clewis and Lark. That pilot project will take us into the field and onto the river throughout the second half of the year.
*by bike and boat (kinda).