Exploring and Mapping the American West (Cornerstones of Freedom)
What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer
the Following Questions:
1. What is a petroglyph?
A carving or marking on a rock. Prehistoric Indians drew maps
called petroglyphs (Peh-truh-GLIFS). Petroglyphs mark ancient
travel routes. Did you know
prehistoric refers to the time before people recorded history
The American Indians drew their markings
on rocks in places where other people were likely to see and use
them. For example, they would mark a rock where two trails crossed
or on a wall of a cave used for shelter. Did
you know Map Rock is a famous petroglyph? It is located
near what is today Givens Hot Springs, Idaho. Map Rock is in a
field of petroglyphs. Historians believe these markings were drawn
in this location to describe nearby Snake River.
American Indians also described locations
by word of mouth and repeating stories. Sometimes, they would
draw a map in the dirt or sand. These maps were not permanent.
Sometimes, they would draw semi-permanent maps on tree bark or
When European explorers first came to the
American West in the early 1500's, two things happened. First,
Europeans began to discover and save the American Indian maps.
Second, the American Indians learned to use paper, pens, and other
writing tools introduced by the Europeans. Did
you know Miguel's Map is one of the earliest known
Indian maps written in pen? Miguel measured the distances between
pueblos (or villages) by counting how many days it took him to
get from one pueblo to another. Later Miguel's Map was sent to
an archive in Seville, Spain. Did you
know an archive is a place where historical documents
2. Who were the first
Europeans to explore and map the American West?
The Spanish. When Spanish explorers came to the American West,
many of their maps were incorrect. In fact, they thought North
America was much smaller than it really is.
Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
was a Spanish conquistador. A conquistador was a leader of the
Spanish conquest of Mexico, the American Southwest, and Peru in
the 1500's. Cabeza de Vaca explored the American Southwest from
1527 to 1537, through Cuba, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico
City. His discoveries improved the Spaniards' understanding and
mapping of the American West.
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was
another famous Spanish explorer. He was looking for the Seven
Cities of Gold. In 1539, Coronado sent Marcos de Niza and Estevan
to search for the Seven Cities of Gold. American Indians directed
them to Cíbola as the first city. However, the "gold" turned
out to be turquoise (a greenish-blue semi-precious stone), and
turquoise was of little value.
The Seven Cities of Gold was only a legend,
and Coronado never found these cities. From 1540 to 1542, Coronado
explored Mexico, and what today we call Arizona, New Mexico, Texas,
Oklahoma, and Kansas. Did you know
several men from his expedition were the first Europeans to see
the Grand Canyon? The information Coronado gained from his explorations
was valuable to making better maps.
Other Spanish explorers or explorers who
sail for Spain also gained valuable information which helped to
make better maps. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo was the first
European to see the coast of California and discover San Diego
Bay. Gaspar de Portolá led the first land expedition to
explore northern California in the 1700's. Juan Bautista de Anza
led the first Europeans to San Francisco in 1776, and he opened
an overland route from San Diego to Monterey.
3. On what date and
from what city did the Lewis and Clark Expedition begin?
May 14, 1804, from St. Louis, Missouri.
In the 1800's, river travel was an important
part of trade, commerce, and travel, and the newly formed United
States wanted to control important rivers and ports.
In 1800, the United States consisted of
land from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. In 1803,
President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from
the French. The Louisiana Territory was 828,000 square miles.
It stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and from the Mississippi
River to the Rocky Mountains. This land deal doubled the size
of the United States by one stroke of the pen. By controlling
the Louisiana Territory, the United States now had access to the
Port of New Orleans, the Mississippi River, and the Missouri River.
President Jefferson asked Captains Meriwether
Lewis and William Clark to explore the Missouri River and look
for the Northwest Passage (a continuous waterway across North
America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean). The official
name of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was the Corps of Discovery.
During the winter of 1804-1805, the Lewis
and Clark Expedition set up camp with the Mandan Indians in present-day
North Dakota. The Mandan Chief, Chief Big White, helped Lewis
and Clark by drawing maps. Lewis and Clark's stay at Fort Mandan
was also helpful because they met Toussaint Charbonneau and his
wife, Sacagawea. Charbonneau and Sacagawea joined the expedition.
As a Shoshone, Sacagawea was a valuable guide because she knew
American Indian languages and customs. Read
On April 7, 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition
left Fort Mandan. They saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time
on May 26. They carried their boats across the Great Falls of
the Missouri. When they reached the Rocky Mountains, they needed
to trade with the Shoshone for horses to make the journey across
the mountains and the Continental Divide. Did
you know the Continental Divide is an elevated area
in the Rocky Mountains separating the rivers flowing west from
the rivers flowing east? Sacagawea's brother was the Shoshone
chief, and Sacagawea was helpful in getting twenty-nine horses
for the expedition.
After crossing the Rocky Mountains, the
expedition met the Nez Perce. Did you
know Nez Perce means pierced nose? The Nez Perce used
maps to describe the Clearwater, Snake, and Columbia Rivers to
the expedition. On November 15, 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition
reached the Pacific Ocean.
The expedition spent the winter of 1805-1806
near the Pacific Ocean, and then traveled back to St. Louis, Missouri.
They returned in St. Louis on September 23, 1806. Did
you know it took them two years, four months, and nine
days to travel about 8,000 miles?
On their journey, the Lewis and Clark Expedition
brought clothes, tools, scientific books, medicine, rifles, and
trade goods. Along the route, they studied the land, plants, animals,
and American Indians. They saw new animals, including pronghorn
antelope, buffalo, prairie dogs, jackrabbits, and coyotes. They
met American Indians, including Hidatsa, Mandan, Otoe, Missouri,
Teton Sioux, Yankton Sioux, Arikara, Shoshone, and Nez Perce.
Clark was the mapmaker on the journey.
He measured distances, described what he saw, and drew pictures.
He also named rivers, meadows, mountains, mountain passes, and
rock formations. Did you know
the first official map of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was published
4. Who is Pikes Peak
Zebulon Montgomery Pike.
Pike was an explorer in the early 1800's.
In 1805, he set off to find the source of the Mississippi River
and to get permission from the American Indians for the United
States to establish U.S. forts. Pike and his party thought two
lakes in Minnesota were the source of the Mississippi River. They
were Red Cedar Lake (today known as Cass Lake) and Leech Lake.
It was later discovered the real source was Lake Itasca in Minnesota.
In 1806, Pike explored the Arkansas River,
Red River, and the Rocky Mountains. In the Rocky Mountains, Pike
saw a towering peak and called it "Grand Peak." Today, we call
this mountain Pikes Peak. Did you know
it is 14,110 feet high?
Pike and his party continued south into
Spanish territory until they were captured by the Spanish. Although
Pike was released in 1807, the Spaniards kept his notes and papers
so there is no written record of his findings.
5. True or False: Lines
of longitude run from north to south, and lines of latitude run
from east to west.
True. Mapmakers used special equipment to locate places and measure
distances, heights, and angles. A sextant is one these instruments
used to measure distances.
What year did the U.S. Geological Survey officially begin mapping
the United States?
1879. Before 1879, the U.S.
Geological Survey had been surveying the American West to find
out more about its soil, rock, and minerals.
Today, different maps are used for different
purposes. There are maps for hikers, maps for scientists, maps
of vegetation, maps of highways, and maps of populations. Political
maps mark boundaries of cities, counties, states, and countries.
Shaded relief maps show the land shapes and features, including
mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes. Topographic maps use imaginary
lines and colors to show the area's elevation above sea level.
What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the
Boundary: A line or limit marking the end of something,
such as a city or a country
Expedition: A journey made for
a definite purpose; a group making such a journey
Great Plains: Vast dry grasslands
in North America extending from northern Canada to Texas
Route: A specific road or line
Survey: (verb) To find out measurements,
position, boundaries, or elevation of a land by measuring angles
and distances; (noun) the act of measuring land
Topographical: Relating to maps
Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the
Following Questions for Your FREE
a. What was the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo?
It was the treaty which ended the Mexican War.
The Mexican War was fought between the
United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848. One of the reasons
the United States fought this war was to gain more land. The Treaty
of Guadalupe Hidalgo (gwahd-uhl-OOP hih-DAHL-goh) stated Mexico
would surrender land that later became the states known as California,
Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and
After gaining this new territory, the United
States needed maps to mark the new boundaries. The Mexican Boundary
Survey set the new borders.
b. Describe ONE of the
He was a Pueblo Indian from the area known today as New Mexico.
Around 1600, he was captured by the Spanish and taken to Mexico
City, Mexico. In 1602, he was told to draw a map of the Indian
pueblos. He measured the distances between pueblos by counting
how many days it took him to get from one pueblo to another. Today,
Miguel's Map is one of the earliest known Indian maps written
in pen. Did you know a pueblo
is a village of buildings made of adobe or stone usually built
by American Indians in the American Southwest?
Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: He was a Spanish
conquistador who explored the American Southwest from 1527 to
1537. He is called the first European explorer of the American
Southwest. In 1528, he landed at San Luis Island which is southwest
of what today is called Galveston Island, Texas. He then explored
present-day New Mexico, and in 1536, traveled to Mexico City,
Mexico. In August, 1537, Cabeza de Vaca traveled back to Spain
and told other Spaniards about the land, weather, animals, food,
houses, and customs he experienced in the American West. Cabeza
de Vaca's information improved the Spanish maps of the area. Did
you know a conquistador was a leader of the Spanish
conquest of Mexico, the American Southwest, and Peru in the 1500's?
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado: He was a Spanish explorer.
Coronado wanted to find the legendary Seven Cities of Gold located
in the American Southwest. This turned out to be a legend, and
Coronado never found the cities. From 1540 to 1542, Coronado explored
Mexico, and what today is called Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma,
and Kansas. Several men from Coronado's expedition were the first
Europeans to see the Grand Canyon. Coronado's explorations discovered
the enormous size of North America, proved the Gulf of Mexico
and Gulf of California did not meet, and opened trails for later
explorers and traders in the American Southwest.
Marcos de Niza: He was a priest and part of Francisco Vásquez
de Coronado's expedition to find the legendary Seven Cities of
Gold located in the American Southwest.
Estevan: He was an African who was a part of Francisco
Vásquez de Coronado's expedition to find the legendary
Seven Cities of Gold located in the American Southwest.
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo: He was a Portuguese navigator
who sailed for Spain. He was the first European to see the coast
of California. He sailed up the west coast of Mexico, across the
Gulf of California, and up the west coast of California. He also
discovered what today is the San Diego Bay.
Gaspar de Portolá: He led the first land expedition
to explore northern California in the 1700's.
Juan Bautista de Anza: He led the first Europeans to San
Francisco in 1776, and he opened an overland route from San Diego
Alexander Mackenzie: He was one of the first British explorers
to provide information for mapmakers. In 1789, he and a small
group left from Canada looking for the Northwest Passage (a continuous
waterway across North American from the Atlantic Ocean to the
Pacific Ocean). In 1793, Mackenzie again attempted to find the
Northwest Passage. Unable to find this passage, Mackenzie and
his party carried their canoe across the Rocky Mountains, and
then floated to the Pacific Ocean. Although they did not find
a continuous water passage, they were the first expedition to
cross North America north of Mexico. In 1801, Mackenzie wrote
a book about his expedition called, Voyage from Montreal.
Mackenzie never did find the Northwest Passage because the Northwest
Passage does not exist; the Rocky Mountains block any such waterway
east of the mountain range from connecting with any waterway west
of the mountain range.
Thomas Jefferson: He was the third President of the United
States. He purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803,
which doubled the size of the United States and expanded its western
border from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.
Meriwether Lewis: He was one of the leaders of the Lewis
and Clark Expedition from 1804 to 1806. William Clark was the
other leader. The expedition traveled from St. Louis to the Pacific
Ocean and back to St. Louis. The official name of the expedition
was the Corps of Discovery.
William Clark: He was one of the leaders of the Lewis and
Clark Expedition from 1804 to 1806. Meriwether Lewis was the other
leader. The expedition traveled from St. Louis to the Pacific
Ocean and back to St. Louis. The official name of the expedition
was the Corps of Discovery.
Sacagawea: She was a Shoshone who guided the Lewis and
Clark Expedition from 1804 to 1806. Read
Zebulon Montgomery Pike: He was an explorer in the early
1800's. He tried to determine the source of the Mississippi River.
He also explored the Arkansas River, the Red River, and the Rocky
Mountains. Did you know Pikes
Peak in the Rocky Mountains is named after him?
Stephen H. Long: He was a United States Army engineer who
led an expedition in the Rocky Mountains in 1819. Did
you know an engineer is a person who designs and builds
things, such as bridges, roads, and tunnels?
John C. Frémont: He was a part of the first major western
project of the United States Army Topographical Corps in 1839.
This expedition studied the land between the upper Mississippi
and Missouri Rivers. Frémont also surveyed and mapped the
Oregon Trail in 1842, the Oregon Territory in 1844, and California
William H. Emory: He was a part of the United States Army
Use five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
sidelines mark the boundary
when I play football.
My family took me and my sister on an expedition
to the Grand Canyon.
Prairie dogs live in the Great Plains.
We used a map to find the route
from our house to my grandma's house.
Lewis and Clark surveyed the
land during their expedition
across the Great Plains.
John Frémont served on the U.S. Army Topographical
d. Have a parent or friend give you
a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.
More Valuable Information about the
Perspectives on The West (PBS)
Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (PBS)
Vásquez de Coronado (Lone Star Junction)
Rodríguez Cabrillo (Cabrillo National Monument)
de Anza (University of Oregon)
and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (PBS)
Clark's Historic Trail
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Library of Congress)