2003 Shawnee Five Dollar gold coin commemorates George Drouillard,
the son of a French-Canadian father and Shawnee Indian mother,
who served as interpreter and hunter for the historic Lewis
and Clark Expedition. This is the second annual gold issue
of The Sovereign Nation of the Shawnee Tribe (Oklahoma),
recognized by the United States under the Shawnee Tribe
Status Act of 2000. Ron Sparkman, Chairman of The Shawnee
Tribe, has indicated that these are "legal tender commemorative
coins" (i.e. within their sovereign nation).
6.22 gm. pure (9999 fine) gold, 22.5 mm. Five Dollar face
value "Sign Talker" coins were designed by award-winning
sculptor Alex Shagin. Only 5,000 proofs are available at
the official issue price of $195. Each coin comes in an
inscribed pouch, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
PandaAmerica is the official distributor of this coin. Want
one? Click here. For other Shawnee Coins, click
purpose of the expedition, as specified by President Jefferson,
was "to explore the Missouri River & such principal
stream of it as by its course and communication with the
waters of the Pacific Ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregon,
Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct &
practicable water communication across this continent for
the purpose of commerce." Commenting on Drouillard's
sign language skills, Meriwether Lewis wrote on August 14,
1805: "The means I had of communicating with these
people was by way of Drewyer [Drouillard] who understood
perfectly the common language of gesturing or signs which
seems to be universally understood by all the Nations we
have yet seen."
Drouillard was recruited by Captain Meriwether Lewis upon
reaching Fort Massac in November 1803. Captain Daniel Bissell,
who had been ordered by the War Department to recruit volunteers
for the Corps of Discovery, recommended Drouillard as an
excellent hunter with a good knowledge of the Indians' character
and sign language.
was one of two non-military members of the Corps to complete
the expedition from camp Dubois to the Pacific and back.
Drouillard generally accompanied Lewis on scouting missions.
Lewis praised him highly as the most skilled hunter among
of his sign language skills, Drouillard often played a key
role in establishing relations with the various Indian tribes
that the Corps encountered. During the winter of 1804-05,
Drouillard's interpretive and hunting skills were integral
to establishing friendly relations with the Mandan Indians,
with whom the Corps survived a incredibly cold winter. He
was often assigned to small hunting groups, who would be
charged with collecting meat to feed the Corps and to trade
with the Mandans for other foodstuffs.
the Corps safely reached St. Louis on September 23, 1806,
Lewis entrusted Drouillard with the delivery of the first
letters containing reports of the expedition to the postmaster
in Cahokia. These letters were then sent on to President
Jefferson. In 1810, after the Corps was disbanded, Drouillard
joined Manuel Lisa's fur trading party and returned to the
Three Forks region of the upper Missouri; later that year
he was murdered by Indians.
Prepared by Mel Wacks