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ERIC Number: EJ997325
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 22
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
Reflections on the "Confluence Project": Assimilation, Sustainability, and the Perils of a Shared Heritage
Daehnke, Jon
American Indian Quarterly, v36 n4 p503-524 Fall 2012
The recent bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's "Corps of Discovery" created increased interest in commemorations of this event along the entire course of the expedition's travels. In advance of the bicentennial, a number of states established Lewis and Clark commemorative commissions, museums at both national and local levels planned exhibits on the Corps of Discovery, and leaders of local communities along the trail deliberated on the best ways to use the bicentennial to attract tourist dollars to their communities. A group of Lewis and Clark reenactors--including some descendants of William Clark--even set out to retrace the entire course of the journey during the bicentennial years. The desire to commemorate the bicentennial was certainly felt along the Columbia River, along which the Corps of Discovery traveled in 1805 and 1806. A centerpiece of Columbia River commemorations of Lewis and Clark--and the one that might have the most long-lasting presence--is the "Confluence Project," a series of seven permanent and public art installations located at specific spots on the banks of the river. Ultimately, the "Confluence Project" was "designed to rethink what a commemoration of the Lewis and Clark Northwest Expedition could be," especially by providing greater space for Native American voices and framing the history of the Corps of Discovery as part of a larger shared heritage. Explicit in the "Confluence Project," and promoted as part of a shared heritage, is a message of environmentalism and sustainability. In this article, the author argues that messages of shared heritage, while on the surface seemingly agreeable, are not entirely benign. He suggests that the messages of shared heritage and sustainability found in the "Confluence Project," rather than transforming and reimagining the story of Lewis and Clark, serve to further assimilate the Native American story as one more component of the American master narrative, create a false equation of Indigenous and settler experiences on the landscape, distance and erase the tragedies of colonialism, and perpetuate stereotypes of pristine nonanthropogenic landscapes. (Contains 8 figures and 35 notes.)
University of Nebraska Press. 1111 Lincoln Mall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0630. Tel: 800-755-1105; Fax: 800-526-2617; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Oregon; Washington