QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2004-09 > 1096604708
From: Fran LaChance <>
Subject: Marie Dorion & The Astoria Expedition
Date: Fri, 01 Oct 2004 00:28:28 -0400
There is a series of book written by Jane Kirkpatrick which tell the
story of Marie Dorion: A Name of Her Own; Every Fixed Star, and Hold
Tight the Thread. I highly recommend them. http://www.jkbooks.com/
>Marie Dorion and The Astoria Expedition
>"The only woman on the 1811-12 overland expedition led by Wilson Price Hunt,
>Marie Dorion endured more hardships than a more famous female Indian traveler,
>Sacagawea, the 19-year-old Shoshone Indian woman who accompanied Merriwether
>Lewis and William Clark on the first American expedition across the
>Continental Divide to the Pacific Coast, might be the most famous American Indian woman
>of all time. Well, either her or Pocahontas. It's too close to say. You may as
>well flip a coin, preferably a "Sacagawea" dollar. Maybe that's your answer
>right there. Pocahontas has never appeared on any currency.
>And neither has Marie Dorion. "Marie who?" you ask?
>Her name is hardly known today, but just six years after Sacagawea made her
>trek, a 21-year-old Iowa Indian woman named Marie Dorion went with the
>expedition that made the second such crossing to the same destination--the mouth of
>the Columbia River. The stories of Sacagawea's trials, courage and endurance
>during her 1805-06 journey are well known. But Marie Dorion's nearly forgotten
>trials were even more difficult.
>Marie Dorion was the only woman on the 1811-12 overland expedition financed
>by John Jacob Astor, to establish a fur trading post at the mouth of the
>Columbia River. That second American crossing of the continent was the result of
>Astor's competition with the British Hudson's Bay Company. Astor, after having
>made a fortune on the fur resources about the Great Lakes, planned to establish
>a trading post on the coast of Oregon, to control the fur trade with the
>It was Astor's plan to trade Western furs in the Orient, receiving cargoes to
>exchange in England for manufactured goods needed in America. The overland
>expedition was to identify locations where fur trading posts could be
>established that also would serve as way stations to expedite communications between
>Astor's Eastern headquarters and the Western trading posts, a forerunner of the
>The overland expedition was only half of Astor's detailed plan. The other
>half was to send the ship Tonquin around Cape Horn, carrying the people and
>merchandise for the trading post. Tonquin, a strong ship of 290 tons, with 10 guns
>and a crew of 20 men, was captained by Jonathan Thorn, a navy lieutenant on
>leave of absence.
>Tonquin sailed from New York Harbor on September 8,1810 and arrived at the
>mouth of the Columbia River seven months later, after passage around Cape Horn
>and a stopover in the Sandwich Islands (present-day Hawaii). By that time,
>Thorn, who was a strict disciplinarian, was thoroughly disliked by the entire
>crew. Feelings for him did not improve after he lost eight seamen when he insisted
>on trying to cross the sand bar at low tide.
>The site selected for the trading post, Astoria, was on Point George on the
>southern shore of the Columbia. It was not far from the location of Lewis and
>Clark's 1805-06 Fort Clatsop winter camp.
>Soon, the first major setback to Astor's plan occurred. After unloading
>people and supplies in Oregon, Thorn took his ship on a trading mission to Vanco
>uver Island. There disaster overcame him after Salish Indians crawled aboard. The
>Salish were outraged by his insolence and massacred all but one man, an
>interpreter, who got away. Another wounded sailor ignited the powder magazine and
>blew up the ship, himself, and about 200 Salish.
>The overland expedition was led by an inexperienced St. Louis merchant named
>Wilson Price Hunt. He was believed to be about 29 years old in 1811. Although
>he had become a successful merchant since coming to St. Louis in 1804, he had
>no experience that would qualify him for the task ahead. Hunt's party left St.
>Louis on October 21, 1810, six weeks after Tonquin sailed from New York.
>After traveling 450 miles up the Missouri River in three boats, they camped a
>month later 150 miles above Fort Osage, which had been established two years
>earlier at a site recommended by Lewis and Clark. They were to winter there at the
>mouth of the Nodaway River to avoid the expense of staying in St. Louis and to
>remove his crew from the temptations of that city.
>After camp was established, Hunt went back to St. Louis, as he still needed
>to hire additional men, one being a Sioux interpreter. For that position he
>obtained the services of Pierre Dorion Junior. Dorion's mother was a Yankton
>Sioux and his father, Pierre Dorion Senior was an Indian trader from Quebec, whom
>Lewis and Clark had engaged as an interpreter to the Yankton Sioux. The elder
>Dorion remained with the Yanktons to promote Lewis and Clark's Indian policy,
>which was to end intertribal wars, encourage some chiefs to go as ambassadors
>to Washington, and for the tribes to accept trade with Americans, rather than
>with their usual Spanish and French traders. When Lewis and Clark continued up
>the Missouri River, Pierre Dorion Senior was to gather a delegation of Sioux
>chiefs and escort them to Washington."
|Marie Dorion & The Astoria Expedition by Fran LaChance <>|