Clark finally recieves his captain’s bars and designates York and Sacagawea as sergeants

By DEAN BAKER, Columbian staff writer

January 19, 2001

Vancouver historian Barb Kubik was sleepy but ecstatic Thursday after a fast flight to Washington, D.C., where she saw President Clinton promote three members of the Lewis and Clark expedition and create eight new national monuments, including two on the explorers’ trail.

“It was so cool,” said Kubik, 48, who is international president of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. “It was a very positive way for Mr. Clinton to bring his presidency to a close.”

Kubik jumped on a plane Tuesday night after the White House invited her to attend with descendants of expedition members. She flew home Wednesday night.

“I’m trying to stay awake after four hours’ sleep, but it was worth every minute and every penny,” Kubik said. “Mr. Clinton was very eloquent.”

He promoted William Clark to captain, made the slave York and the Indian interpreter Sacagawea honorary sergeants.

Clinton said he was repairing old errors.

Although Lewis drafted Clark as co-commander of the expedition, the U.S. Senate refused to promote him.

Lewis ignored that, called Clark “Captain” and never told the 30 other members of the crew command that they were anything but equals.

Last fall, Congress agreed and gave Clark his promotion.

It’s “time to right a wrong,” Clinton said as he gave captain’s bars to two of Clark’s great-great-great-grandsons, who agreed the commission was a bit overdue.

Clinton also announced the creation or expansion of eight national monuments, including Pompeys Pillar and the Upper Missouri River Breaks, two important stops on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

The pillar, a 150-foot sandstone monolith where Clark carved his name in 1805, is the only archaeological evidence of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Clark named the pillar, east of Billings, Mont., after the son of Sacagawea.

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