William Clark’s descendants replace stolen tribal canoe
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It was a long time coming, but the descendants of explorer William Clark have tried to make amends for a 205-year-old theft.
A descendant of the explorer in the Corps of Discovery expedition that opened a land route to the West presented the Chinook Indian Nation with a replica of a canoe that the corps stole in 1806.
Some of Clark’s descendants and a few donors stepped forward to pay for the canoe, which was custom built in Veneta, Ore. The five-hour ceremony on Saturday included songs, gift exchanges and the maiden voyage of the replica canoe.
Ray Gardner, chairman of the Chinook Nation’s tribal council, said the return of the canoe is a “good place to being healing.”
“It’s nice to see a circle completed,” Gardner said.
After completing their journey west and spending a wet and wretched winter at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1806, Clark and Meriwether Lewis found they were short a canoe, so they stole one from the Clatsop Indians who had kept them alive all winter.
The Clatsop later became one of five tribes to form the Chinook Indian Nation.
It has long been a sore subject with the tribes in the Pacific Northwest, who perceived the theft as a major insult. Canoes were a sacred part of their culture and an important mode of transportation.
William Clark’s descendants Robert, 8, and Greta, 4, Holton, and their grandmother Carlota ‘Lotsie’ Holton, and Peyton ‘Bud’ Clark, right, stand in front of their gift, a 36-foot canoe during the canoe reparation ceremony Saturday Sept. 24, 2011, near Chinook, Wash. Back in 1806, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark stole a canoe from native Americans living on the Pacific Coast. More than 200 years later, Clark’s descendants are making amends to the Indian’s descendants by having a 36-foot replica built for them. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)