Lewis & Clark learning center to be established

Lewis & Clark learning center to be established by David Lias It appears that a combination of National Park Service funding and money from the state of South Dakota will make the establishment of a Lewis & Clark Learning Center at the W.H. Over Museum in Vermillion a reality.

Dorothy Neuhaus of the Friends of the W.H. Over Museum said earlier this week that Gov. William Janklow likely will announce more specific details concerning the funding of the center in the near future.

It is expected that as the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark expedition approaches, there will be a growing number of visitors to South Dakota who will want to visit Spirit Mound and gather information.

Local citizens believe that until a visitor center is developed at the site by the U.S. Department of Parks, the best solution is to develop a learning center at the W.H. Over Museum.

It is believed that such a center will provide an essential need for the education of the citizens of South Dakota as well as contribute a service to visitors following the Lewis & Clark Trail throughout South Dakota.

The center will provide local residents and visitors to the state with historical information about the visit of Lewis & Clark to Spirit Mound, documenting that important historical event, the natural history of the area at the time (geographical as well as the floral and fauna of the region) and the American Indian peoples that lived in the area at that time.

The center will also provide information so that patrons will know how to get to Spirit Mound and what they should be prepared to see once they get there.

Planned components of the learning center include:

? A large wall mural. The W.H. Over Museum will commission an artist to paint a large wall mural depicting the Lewis & Clark Trail. The mural will center around a map identifying the trail, highlighting the regions inhabited by American Indian tribes at the time and depicting important historical events such as the visit of the expedition to Spirit Mound, the visit to the Mandan Village and meeting Sakakawea.

? Display cases and moveable wall units. Four modular display cases and three moveable walls will be constructed to display historical artifacts relating to the Lewis & Clark expedition. These cases and wall units will display journal entries corresponding to the dates when Lewis & Clark visited Clay County and Spirit Mound; guns, tools and clothing from the museum collection which would have been similar to those used by the expedition; animal and plant specimen mounts from the collection of the museum depicting the flora and fauna at Spirit Mound and Clay County as described in the Lewis & Clark journals; and trade goods similar to those used by Lewis & Clark as gifts and trading materials with the Indians.

? Touch screen computer and printer. A personal computer with DVD, video and touch screen technology will be used in the learning center to provide additional for visitors. The printer will allow patrons to print out any of the information or maps they have requested. Links and information about other important Lewis & Clark Trail sites will also be provided. The use of personal computer technology will allow continuous update of materials in addition to allowing patrons to obtain materials suitable for their age and level of knowledge and interest about the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

? Prepare take-home materials about Spirit Mound. A major goal of the Lewis & Clark Learning Center is to enhance the learning experience of visitors who will make a visit to Spirit Mound. It has been proposed that printed material should be prepared that patrons can take with them on their visit to Spirit Mound. These materials will include maps and directions on how to get to the site, what to bring, where to park, how to best approach the peak, and what plants and animals they should look for. These materials will also include historical information such as passages from the Lewis & Clark Expedition journals directly referring to their journey to Spirit Mound.

? Part-time employment of a graduate student. The student will help in doing the research, the design and serving as interpreter during peak times.

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