St. Louis The 15th and final signature event marking Lewis and Clark's expedition through the West will take place a year from now on the St. Louis Riverfront, organizers of the event said Friday.
The National Council of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial and the Osage Nation of Oklahoma will co-host "Lewis & Clark: Currents of Change," Sept. 20-24, 2006, mostly on the grounds of the Gateway Arch.
"Our hope is to make it a national event considering it's the culmination of several events across the country," said Robert Archibald, president of the Missouri Historical Society and co-chairman of the Lewis & Clark bicentennial.
Sept. 23, 2006, will mark the 200th anniversary of when the explorers returned to St. Louis after 28 months and nearly 8,000 miles of travel on their way to the Pacific Ocean and back.
Signature events - those that are officially part of the National Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commemoration - began in 2003 and continue in locations connected to the explorers. Archibald estimated that more than 1 million people will have attended the signature events.
The St. Louis celebration will include several activities, most of them free and open to the public. It will be a mix of the serious - symposiums on land use and discussions of the plight of American Indians - and typical festival fare such as food, fireworks and concerts.
In addition to honoring the explorers, Currents of Change will recognize the American Indian nations through which they traveled and celebrate their cultures; and it will examine how the lands, rivers and lives of American Indians in the West have changed in the past 200 years.
"We want to shine a bright light on those issues that confront native people and on the environmental changes that shed light on how different that world is since Lewis and Clark first passed through," Archibald said.
Representatives from more than 41 American Indian nations are expected to participate, with a focus on environmental stewardship. Archibald said events will identify and promote opportunities to restore lands, rivers and habitats along the Lewis & Clark Trail.
A ceremony on Sept. 23, 2006, will feature a tribal flags procession, keynote speeches by government leaders and American Indian leaders. Invited speakers include First Lady Laura Bush, who is honorary chair of the bicentennial, and Osage National Chief James Roan Gray.