“Our ancestors didn’t need child welfare agencies or food stamps. They had a system, a way of life that took care of everyone.”
The people the Corps of Discovery encountered on their two and a
half-year round-trip journey to the Pacific belonged to well-ordered communities.
While not a country in the European sense, the region the Americans traversed
two centuries ago was bound together by common values and customs.
In 1800, the Native American communities in the Missouri and Columbia
River regions were prosperous and thriving. They knew how to take advantage
of the abundant natural resources around them, and traded for what they could
not produce themselves. They had highly developed social structures to educate
their children, care for their elderly, and prevent and resolve community conflicts.
As Frederick Baker has commented, they didn’t need schools, police, jails
and social workers, they had “a brilliant plan for living.”
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