According to directoryaah, North America was colonized by the French, English, and Dutch from the east in the 17th century. Spaniards emigrated from Mexico. From the east coast and via the waterways, the Europeans advanced further inland. At the end of the 18th century, southern North America and the area east of the Mississippi were largely known. The search for a waterway to the Pacific Ocean emerged as a new goal of the discoveries.
Around 1775, Europeans advanced to the Athabasca River in the area west of Lake Athabasca (in what is now the Canadian province of Alberta). The region offered good conditions for fur hunting, but was around 2,000 km from the nearest trading post, which was on the waterways. The idea was natural to find a shorter route to the west coast in order to ship the goods over the sea to Europe from there.
ALEXANDER MACKENZIE , who was in command of Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabaska, set out twice to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean. In 1789 he arrived on the Slave River to Great Slave Lake and encountered the later named after him river, which, however, does not lead to the Pacific, but in the Arctic Ocean. Although MACKENZIE did not achieve the goal set, he had discovered an important connection between the waterways and contributed to the development of the area.
Only three years later, in 1792, he made a second trip and chose the Peace River as his starting point. MACKENZIE’s men, seven Englishmen and two Indians, had to climb the slopes of the Conquer the Rocky Mountains as well as the rapids and waterfalls of the rivers in the mountainous region. So they walked most of the way, carrying their canoes, provisions, weapons and ammunition. In some places rapids followed rapids, so that the canoe had to be dragged upwards with the help of ropes. Along several rivers, his expedition finally reached the coast of the Pacific Ocean north of Vancouver on July 22, 1793, at the mouth of the Bella Coola River.
MACKENZIE made numerous records of the nature of the landscapes through which his journey led. Hence the wealth of herds of buffalo, elk and other game that he encountered is passed down.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806)
The Lewis and Clark Expedition is important because it was the first to cross the country west of the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean. It opened up the Missouri headwaters and provided knowledge of the height and extent of the Rocky Mountains.
In 1803, for strategic reasons, NAPOLEON sold Louisiana, which was part of France, to the United States. At that time, Louisiana was the name given to an area west of the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains that was not exactly delimited and covered well over 800,000 square miles. THOMAS JEFFERSON, the then President of the United States, gave the order, the course and the headwaters of the Missouri to explore and claim all areas further west for the United States. He gave his private secretary Captain MERYWETHER LEWIS and Captain WILLIAM CLARK the command of a corresponding expedition. On May 14, 1804, LEWIS, CLARK and 44 other companions set out from St. Louis on a ship that carried them about 2,500 miles up the Missouri. In November they established Fort Mandan in what is now North Dakota as a winter camp. Some participants returned to St. Louis. In the late summer of 1805, the Discovery Corps reached what is now Montana. Movement by water was no longer possible here. The expedition had to switch to horses as a means of transport. Sacagawea ,a Shoshoness, who had accompanied the expedition since Fort Mandan, helped to negotiate horses with the Shoshone.
From then on, this Indian woman played an important role thanks to her knowledge of edible plants and medicinal products. It also took away the distrust of the Indians the group met on the way.
The journey through the mountains of the Bitterroots Range (region in which the expedition crossed the Rocky Mountains) was extremely arduous. The people struggled against cold, hunger and illnesses caused by lack of food. In September 1805, the group passed the Rocky Mountain Divide, The Great Divide, the highest point of the mountain range and the headwaters of the rivers that flow downhill either in a westerly or easterly direction. The voyage was continued on a locally built boat across Clearwater, Snake River and Columbia. In October 1805 they reached northwest of Portland in the mouth of the Columbia River the pacific ocean. After a winter camp, the group set out to return to St. Louis.
SACAGAWEA, which means bird woman, was the 17-year-old wife of the fur trader CHARBONNEAU, who served as an interpreter for the expedition. Her life has aroused great interest among Americans and given rise to several legends. As a child she was of the Hidatsa tribe kidnapped and later married to CHARBONNEAU. So she spoke the language of the Shoshone and that of the Hidatsa. By the time she joined the group, she was pregnant; she gave birth to her son Jean Baptiste in winter camp. Despite the baby, she and her husband accompanied the expedition over 5000 miles, for sixteen months. SACAGEWA died when she was in her mid-twenties in Fort Manuel, Missouri, after giving birth to a daughter named Lisette. Captain CLARK took care of their children.