N.D.’s historic trio named to ‘most influential’ listBISMARCK — A trio known across North Dakota for its adventurous spirit and role in history is now being honored as three of Time magazine’s 20 most influential Americans of all time.
By: Teri Finneman, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — A trio known across North Dakota for its adventurous spirit and role in history is now being honored as three of Time magazine’s 20 most influential Americans of all time.
Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sakakawea (spelled Sacagawea on the formal listing) are featured along with George Washington, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford as “the trailblazers, visionaries and cultural ambassadors who defined a nation.” Sitting Bull is also featured in the Top 20.
David Borlaug, president of the Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation in Washburn, N.D., called the national recognition “wonderful.”
“To have our heroes, our story in there, this is good for Fort Mandan, for the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, it’s good for North Dakota,” he said Friday.
Borlaug, who was on his way to a national Lewis and Clark annual meeting, said 70 percent to 80 percent of visitors to the Washburn attractions are out-of-staters captivated by the Lewis and Clark story.
“It’s easy for us here in North Dakota that live with it, that it’s part of our history, it’s part of our cultural heritage, it’s so easy for us to just forget how important it is to the rest of the world,” Borlaug said.
The magazine’s entry for Lewis, Clark and Sakakawea discusses the lack of vision and identity for the United States in the early 1800s.
“Lewis, Clark and their Corps of Discovery helped invent one — with the essential assistance of a young Indian woman, Sacagawea,” Time wrote.
The exploration of the Louisiana Purchase was critical to the new nation, said Merl Paaverud, director of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
“We must remember that the Corps of Discovery may not have survived without Sakakawea and many others who helped along the way,” he said.
The magazine also recognizes Sitting Bull, born in Dakota Territory, as “the most famous of a long line of Native Americans who fought bravely to withstand the tide of white European settlers advancing across the continental U.S.”
He is arguably best known for his victory over General George Custer along the Little Bighorn River in Montana in 1876.
Just as George Washington is considered a founding father, Sitting Bull is a founding father in Native American culture, said Scott Davis, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission.
“His influence still is very alive and strong today as it was when he walked the earth,” Davis said. “It hasn’t left our people at all.”
You can see the entire list of influential Americans at http://tinyurl.com/bpytrd7.
Teri Finneman is a
multimedia reporter for
Forum Communications Co.