Meriwether Lewis once called the expedition "a darling project of mine." This book has been that for me during the past four years. Thanking friends, colleagues, and companions for support, encouragement, and criticism is the most pleasant task any writer can undertake. This book began when I read John Allen's brilliant Passage through the Garden and wondered if anyone had made a study of the Corps of Discovery and native peoples. My earliest research on explorers and Indians was aided and abetted by two institutions—the Youngstown State University Research Council and Mike Faklis, gifted bookman and supplier of endlessly delightful volumes. As that research progressed I steadily incurred debts that demand at least interest paid here. I am especially grateful to the staff at the Missouri Historical Society, William Lang at the Montana Historical Society, Joseph Porter at the Joslyn Art Museum, and Stephen Catlett at the American Philosophical Society. John Allen, William Goetzmann, and Alvin Josephy, Jr., provided comments and inspiration in greater measure than hoped for. Five minutes with John Ewers cleared up a whole knot of Blackfeet questions. I owe a special debt to Ray Wood for anthropological services rendered. Gary Moulton, editor of the new Lewis and Clark Journals project, has been both friend and long-distance colleague.
Anyone pursuing Lewis and Clark must eventually encounter the wonderful people who make up the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. Among those in the foundation who gave me support and encouragement were Irving Anderson, E. G. "Frenchy" Chuinard, Robert Lange, and the best guide any greenhorn could want, Wilbur Werner of Cut Bank, Montana. Closer to home, research was made easier by the services of Hildegard Schnuttgen, who heads the Interlibrary Loan Department at Maag Library, Youngstown State University. Mrs. Margaret Carl took drafts filled with strange names and distant places and made sense of them all. Colleagues in the Department of History—especially Fred Blue, Lowell Satre, Agnes Smith, and Martin Berger—have heard more about Lewis and Clark than they ever wanted to know.
If this book did not already have a dedication promised long ago, it would be sent with affection and thanks to three extraordinary people. From the beginning of this venture, Donald Jackson has read each chapter with the kind of critical eye for both style and substance that only he has. Don's enthusiasm prodded me on when several chapters got stalled on the wrong side of the Great Divide. Jim Axtell was part of my life long before it was invaded by Lewis and Clark. His patient, perceptive reading of the chapters has meant more than I can tell. That both of us appear in each other's acknowledgments, books, and articles only hints at what more than ten years of conversations and letters have yielded. But no one has lived more with this enterprise than my wife, Jeanne. She braved five weeks of demanding dirt camping in the summer of 1980 as we retraced the Lewis and Clark route. Her faith never wavered; my gratitude is equally unwavering. All of these friends share in what is good between these covers, but not in the shortcomings, which are mine.