The Trailblazers

The Trailblazers

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The Trailblazers (pioneer/explorers) is a suite of musical settings about members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the years 1803-1806.

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The Trailblazers (pioneer/explorers) is a suite of musical settings about members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the years 1803-1806.

Scene I – Introduction: “Lewis and Clark”

Scene II “York and the Missouri River” (William) Clark and his life-long slave companion, “Ben” York were roughly the same age. On October 29, 1803, York and Clark, with nine other men from Kentucky, stepped aboard the expedition’s keelboat on a great journey to the Pacific Ocean. York was the first black man to cross the continent north of Mexico.

Scene III – “Seaman’s Chase” For $20.00 Lewis purchased Seaman, his “dogg of the Newfoundland breed”.  Black in color, Seaman was to be “our dog” by all members of the expedition.  The music characterizes Seaman’s chase of the squirrel who is reluctant to be his dinner.

Scene IV – “Sacagawea’s Lullaby” The expedition added to its numbers French Canadian Toussaint Charbonneau, his wife Scagawea, and their infant son Jean Baptiste, during the second season of travel (April –December 1805). Sacagawea (“bird woman”), a Shoshone who had been captured by the Hidatsa tribe and then sold to Charbonneau, offered invaluable help as an interpreter and peacemaker. Sacagawea was the only woman to accompany the 33 members of the expedition to the Pacific and back.

Scene V – “Cruzatte’s Reel” Pierre Cruzatte was of French and Omaha Indian extraction. Cruzatte, formerly a fur trader along the Missouri River, was a small wiry man with one eye. Cruzatte entertained the explorers with fiddle-playing, keeping spirits high. On New Year’s Day 1805, Cruzatte and members of the group carried “a fiddle & a Tambereen & a Sounden Horn” (tin, with a brass reed) across the river to the Mandan Indian Village, entertaining the villagers with their singing, dancing and frolicking. This scene was often repeated along the way to the Pacific.

Scene VI – “Ocian in View! Oh! the Joy! In November 1805 at the mouth of the Columbia River, Lewis wrote these words in his diary. The Expedition was originally camped along the north side of the river, an area that is now part of the state of Washington. They were, in the words of Clark, finally with sight of the “great Octean (ocean) which we been So long anxious to See.”

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