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When the two groups met—whether for trade or diplomacy—each tried to reshape the other in their own image.Lewis and Clark sought to impose their own notions of hierarchy on Indians by “making chiefs” with medals, printed certificates, and gifts.An important organizing principle in Euro-American society was hierarchy.
The message purported to focus on the state of Indian trade and mentioned the proposed western expedition near the end of the document.
No document proved more important for the exploration of the American West than the letter of instructions Jefferson prepared for Lewis.
Sometimes the similarities are striking; other times the differences stand as a reminder of future conflicts and misunderstandings.
One of Lewis and Clark's missions was to open diplomatic relations between the United States and the Indian nations of the West. that henceforth we become their fathers and friends.” When Euro-Americans and Indians met, they used ancient diplomatic protocols that included formal language, ceremonial gifts, and displays of military power.
By the time he was ready to request funds for the enterprise, Jefferson's relationship with the opposition in Congress was anything but friendly.
When the president suggested including expedition funding in his regular address to Congress, Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin (1761–1849) urged that the request be made in secret.
Other expedition guns might be graceful in design and craftsmanship but the stout blunderbuss simply signified brute force and power.
Lewis and Clark fired their blunderbusses as signs of arrival when entering Indian camps or villages.
In the eyes of Americans, Indians who accepted such medals were also acknowledging American sovereignty as “children” of a new “great father.” And in a moment of imperial bravado, Lewis hung a peace medal around the neck of a Piegan Blackfeet warrior killed by the expedition in late July 1806. in fact every man is a chief.” He set out to change that by “making chiefs.” He passed out medals, certificates, and uniforms to give power to chosen men. In their speeches, the Indians called Lewis and Clark “father,” as in this example made by the Arikira Chiefs.
As Lewis later explained, he used a peace medal as a way to let the Blackfeet know “who we were.” Lewis was frustrated by the egalitarian nature of Indian society: “the authority of the Chief being nothing more than mere admonition . By weakening traditional authority, he sought to make it easier for the United States to negotiate with the tribes. To them, it expressed kinship and their assumption that an adoptive father undertook an obligation to show generosity and loyalty to his new family.