Home>>Collection>>Reading Program>>The American West>>Exploring & Mapping the West

 



 

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 in writing?

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 animal hide.

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 Did you know an archive is a place where historical documents are kept?

Top of Page

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.

Top of Page

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 about Sacagawea.

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 in 1814?

Top of Page

4. Who is Pikes Peak named for?
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.

Top of Page

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.

Top of Page

6. 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.

Top of Page

What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the following words:
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 of travel

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 and landscape

Top of Page

Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the Following Questions for Your FREE Bookmark):
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 Wyoming.

After gaining this new territory, the United States needed maps to mark the new boundaries. The Mexican Boundary Survey set the new borders.

Top of Page

b. Describe ONE of the following people:
Miguel: 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 to Monterey.

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 about Sacagawea.

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 in 1845.

William H. Emory: He was a part of the United States Army Topographical Corps.

Top of Page

c. Use five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
The 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 Corps.

Top of Page

d. Have a parent or friend give you a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.

Top of Page

More Valuable Information about the American West:
New Perspectives on The West (PBS)
Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (PBS)
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (Lone Star Junction)
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo (Cabrillo National Monument)
Juan Bautista de Anza (University of Oregon)
Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (PBS)
Lewis and Clark's Historic Trail
U.S. Geological Survey
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Library of Congress)

Top of Page

 

 

   

Happy Learning!

Send Your Questions or Comments to info@imahero.com


 

 

 

Home | Collection | Who's Your Hero? | About Us | Privacy | Site Map | Online Store

©1999-2003 StarRise Creations. All rights reserved. The IMA Hero logo
and the IMA Hero bears are trademarks of StarRise Creations.