Elk Point in Union County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Entering an Uncertain Land
The Missouri River Valley, up to this location, was well-known to French and British fur trappers. For decades, trappers navigated down the Big Sioux River and the lower Missouri toward St. Louis. Due to the intimidating presence of the Yankton and Teton Sioux, the fur trade dwindled upriver from the mouth of the Big Sioux.
President Jefferson instructed the Corps of Discovery to seek out Indian tribes and record their languages, populations, religions, customs, food, clothing, and especially their willingness to trade with the United States. Given one desertion, a fatality, and four court-martials with less than one fourth of the journey completed, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were anxious as they prepared to fulfill Jefferson's orders by meeting with representatives of the Sioux Nations for the first time.
Corps of Discovery first saw the conical tipis, used by the nomadic Northern Plains Indians, at the Yankton Sioux encampment.
The Mysterious Mound
Strange stories abounded in this unfamiliar territory. One legend just 20 miles upriver involved a lone prairie hill in habited by 18-inch-high "Deavels" armed with "Sharp arrows with which they Can Kill at a great distance." The Indian tribes were said to avoid this hill, known
"..above the Bluff we had the Prairie Set on fire to let the Soues See that we were on the river and as a Signal for them to Come to it."
William Clark, August 27, 1804
Erected by Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Lewis & Clark Expedition marker series.
Location. 42° 40.998′ N, 96° 41.608′ W. Marker is in Elk Point, South Dakota, in Union County. Marker can be reached from S. Harrison St. ¼ mile from W. Jefferson St.. Touch for map. This marker is located with others to recognize the Lewis and Clark expedition camped here in this park. Marker is in this post office area: Elk Point SD 57025, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Land of Plenty (here, next to this marker); Return to "Elk Sign" Campsite (here, next to this marker); U.S. Democracy Crosses the Mississippi River (here, next to this marker); The Lewis and Clark Expedition (here, next to this marker); Lewis & Clark Campsite / Eli Wixson Farm Site (about 300 feet away, measured Elk Point (approx. 0.4 miles away); St. Paul Lutheran Church (approx. 5.4 miles away); Fort Brule (approx. 5½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elk Point.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Categories. • Exploration • Native Americans •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 19, 2017. This page originally submitted on January 17, 2017, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 307 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on January 17, 2017, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.