Students watch videos about Lewis and Clark’s journey across the Bitterroot Mountains, and learn about the hardships of this journey. They then answer questions related to weather and other hardships experienced by Lewis and Clark.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Montana | Unit 4: Early Exploration" which focuses on the factors that drew people to explore Montana, and how these early visitors impacted American Indians.
4.1: Identify and use various sources of information (e.g., artifacts, diaries, photographs, charts, biographies, paintings, architecture, songs) to develop an understanding of the past.
4.3: Examine biographies, stories, narratives, and folk tales to understand the lives of ordinary people and extraordinary people, place them in time and context, and explain their relationship to important historical events.
4.4: Identify and describe famous people, important democratic values (e.g., democracy, freedom, justice) symbols (e.g., Montana and U.S. flags, state flower) and holidays, in the history of Montana, American Indian tribes, and the United States.
Helena District 4.3: Use a variety of literature to connect figures in Montana history to historical events.
An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
Class set of Crossing the Bitterroots handout
- Tell students they will be watching two short videos about Lewis and Clark’s expedition as they attempted to cross the Bitterroot Mountains. The Bitterroots are in western Montana, and were one of the challenging areas Lewis and Clark’s team had to pass to make their way to the Pacific Ocean.
- Distribute the Crossing the Bitterroots handout to students. Instruct students to take notes on the hardships faced by Lewis and Clark during the expedition while watching the videos.
- Explain that the first video they’ll watch depicts Meriwether Lewis’ journal entries from September 1805, before the Corps of Discovery made it across the Bitterroot Mountains.
- Play the video, Moments in Time: Crossing the Bitterroots. [1:07]
- Tell students that the second video depicts one of Lewis’ journal entries from June 1806, when they were on their way back home after reaching the Pacific Ocean. Have students pay attention to how the Corps’ attitudes changed from the first to the second video.
- Play the video, Moments in Time: Anxious to Cross the Bitterroots. [1:06]
- Have students answer the questions on the handout.
- Discuss the answers. Ask students, “How does weather affect travel today?”
- Lewis and Clark had to wait until spring to try and cross the Bitterroot Mountains as they headed west. [first video]
- Snow, terrible mountains, wet, cold, freezing feet, weak from lack of food [first video]
- Traveling through snow again, and lack of food for the horses [second video]