2003 Shawnee Silver Dollar 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. The 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."
This is the second annual 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).
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."
1 oz. pure silver, 39 mm. Silver Dollars were designed by
award-winning sculptor Alex Shagin. They are available at
the official issue prices of $19.95 for Brilliant Uncirculated
coins (limited to 50,000) and $39.95 for Proof pieces (limited
to 20,000). Orders should be sent to the official distributor
PandaAmerica, 3460 Torrance Blvd., Suite 100, Torrance,
CA 90503; telephone (800) 472-6327; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add $5.50 per order for shipping. Click
here to shop online.
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.
provided vital interpreter services to Lewis when the captain
and an advance party were scouting for the Shoshones. Commenting
on Drouillard's sign language skills, Lewis, on August 14,
1805, wrote: "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. It is true that this language is imperfect
and liable to error but is much less so than would be expected.
The strong parts of the ideas are seldom mistaken."
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.
Expedition and the Shawnees
were a number of encounters between the Lewis and Clark
Expedition and the Shawnees, as witnessed by these excerpts
from the Journal of Meriwether Lewis:
Passed the Mississippi this day and went down on the other
side after landing at the upper habitation on the opposite
side. We found here some Shawnees and Delawares encamped,
one of the Shawnees, a respectable-looking Indian, offered
me three beaver skins for my dog, with which he appeared
much pleased. The dog was of the Newfoundland breed, one
that I prized much for his docility and qualifications generally
for my journey and of course there was no bargain. I had
given $20 for this dog myself.
Landed at [Cape Girardeau, Missouri] and called on the commandant
and delivered the letters of introduction which I had for
him from Capt. Daniel Bissell and a Mr. Drewyer [Drouillard],
a nephew of the Commandant's [Louis Lorimier]. The commandant
is Canadian by birth, of French extraction; he was once
a very considerable trader among the Shawnees & Delawares.
This man, agreeably to the custom of many of the Canadian
traders, has taken to himself a wife from among the aborigines
of the country. His wife is a Shawnee woman, from her complexion
is half blooded only. She is a very decent woman, and if
we may judge from her present appearance has been very handsome
when young. She dresses after the Shawnee manner with stroud
[woolen] leggings and moccasins, differing however from
them in her linen which seemed to be drawn beneath the girdle
of her stroud, as also a short jacket with long sleeves
over her linen, with long sleeves more in the style of the
French Canadian women.
On this stream [Apple Creek, a tributary of the Mississippi
River which flows eastward out of the State of Missouri]
about 7 miles from its mouth is a settlement of Shawnees,
which more than any other in this quarter deserves the name
of a village. I could not ascertain their number. [This
settlement was located near the later village of Old Appleton,
on Apple Creek in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. It may
have contained as many as four hundred persons in 1803].
Prepared by Mel Wacks