By DEAN BAKER, Columbian staff writer

December 4, 2000

The state of Washington plans to salute American Indians with kiosks and interpretive signs during the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Meetings to discuss these proposed signs are set for Dec. 13 in Vancouver and Dec. 11 in the Klickitat County town of Lyle. They're also scheduled this month in Clarkston, Walla Walla, Richland, Longview and Ilwaco.

The series of 50 signs are to be installed in 40 locations along the explorers' route from Clarkston to Long Beach, said Mandi Roberts, project manager in Seattle. The state has earmarked $470,000 for the project.

"We don't know what these will look like yet," Roberts said. "We're in the early stages of design."

Otak Inc., a Seattle design firm, is working with a team of historians, artists, landscape architects, architects, engineers and interpretive specialists to complete the work, Roberts said.

"It's a project of monumental proportions," she added.

Themes will focus on American Indian-related stories of the westward trek of the Corps of Discovery in autumn 1805 as they traveled down the Snake and Columbia rivers to the Pacific, and in spring 1806 as they returned up the rivers.

Indian tribes are to be the central feature of these exhibits, and tribes, tribal elders and representatives will be consulted, Roberts said.

The project is to be completed in late spring or early summer of 2002, with a second phase launching then if money is available, Roberts said.

The project will include an expanded system of Lewis and Clark trail signs, highway direction signs and gateway signs across the state.

Five state agencies will work with tribes and community representatives on the project. The state agencies include the Washington State Historical Society, the Parks and Recreation Commission, Department of Transportation, Tourism Office and Department of Fish and Wildlife. Other agencies are likely to be involved as well, Roberts said.

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