The area around the mouth of the Columbia River, where the Corps of Discovery spent the winter of 1805-1806, was home to the Lower Chinookan peoples. More specifically, the site of their fort was in the territory of the Clatsops, after whom they named their fort. The Clatsops were already very familiar with European maritime traders and explorers traveling along the Pacific Coast. European contact (disease and the influx of European goods such as guns) affected them long before the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived. But no group from any European nation had ever spent as much time interacting with and recording information about the Chinookan people as did the Expedition. The material recorded by the Lewis and Clark Expedition during their stay is the best contact-era observation of the Chinookan people and their life prior to the settlement of the Oregon Country and the end of their precontact way of life.
Last Updated: 20-Jan-2004