Discovering more about Lewis and Clark at the library

Friday, September 26, 2003

When they went exploring 200 years ago, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark used compasses and their knowledge of the stars to navigate the unknown West. They knew how to find their way using the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper as guides. At night, they knew the hour by the position of the Big Dipper or the planets.

It was an early Global Positioning System.

"We're not as attuned to our world as they were," said Jackie Wortmann. The program coordinator for the NASA Educator Resource Center at Southeast Missouri State University, Wortmann will use star charts to demonstrate how Lewis and Clark navigated. She is one of six speakers who will make presentations Saturday at the Lewis and Clark Education Fair in Cape Girardeau.

The fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both inside and outside the Cape Girardeau Public Library.

Encampment planned

A Zenon River Brigade re-enactor will be encamped behind the library, located at 711 N. Clark St. In addition, food and traditional crafts demonstrations will be provided. The fair has been organized by Paula Gresham, adult services librarian at the library.

At 10 a.m., Dennis Stroughmatt will play fiddle music and tell tales from the French Creole tradition. Stroughmatt and his band, Creole Stomp, will perform Saturday night at the City of Roses Music Festival in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Wortmann is scheduled to talk about navigating by the stars at 10:45. NASA's explorers use very different means and travel far further than Lewis and Clark did, but the space agency is very interested in the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, Wortmann said.

"Lewis and Clark speaks to everybody," she said.

At 11:30 a.m., A.J. Henderschott, Outreach and Education regional supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation, will open the department's Lewis and Clark Traveling Trunk and and discuss how to keep a field journal. The journals kept by the Corps of Discovery have provided most of the information about the journey.

The traveling trunk contains items such as a coyote hide, a fashion garter set and an 1804 flag. Lewis and Clark were the first to describe a coyote and found inventive uses for fashionable garters.

The trunk is available to schools to check out. Grants also are available from the department to help buy one of the trunks.

At 12:15 p.m., re-enactor Lee Humphrey will discuss everyday life at the beginning of the 19th century in a talk.

At 1 p.m., Jane Randol Jackson, co-chairwoman of the Cape Girardeau Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission, will discuss the explorers' stop in Cape Girardeau.

The final speaker will be Clint Cayou, a Cape Girardeau resident who is a member of the Omaha tribe. Dressed in traditional regalia, he will demonstrate American Indian dances and tell stories about the Indian lifestyle and philosophy.

Headed west

Lewis and Clark encountered members of Cayou's tribe on their way west. "They were pretty friendly," Cayou said. "It was basically a trade agreement."

In addition, the Friends of the Library will have copies of two Lewis and Clark books for sale: Stephen Ambrose's "Undaunted Courage" and a children's book titled "The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Join the Corps of Discovery to Explore Uncharted Territory" by Carol J. Johman.

335-6611, extension 182

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