About the book River of Promise

A Bold Study of Lewis and Clark, the First Publication of the Dakota Institute Press

River of Promise book cover

Lewis & Clark left Fort Mandan on April 7, 1805. Meriwether Lewis wrote, "We were now about to penetrate a country at least 2000 miles in width upon which the foot of civilized man had never trodden." After a long winter on the northern Great Plains, the Expedition was about to enter upon what Lewis regarded as the discovery phase of the journey.

April 7, 2010 was chosen as the launch date for the first book published by The Dakota Institute Press, a division of the Fort Mandan Foundation. David Nicandri's remarkable River of Promise: Lewis and Clark on the Columbia explores the experiences of the Expedition on the west side of the Continental Divide. Nicandri provides a superb—at times revisionist—analysis of the Expedition's travels from Lemhi Pass to the mouth of the Columbia and back again.

Nicandri provides a narrative account and a fresh analysis of the least well understood segment of the journey. He challenges a number of what he regards as Lewis and Clark legends and myths, including the notion that Sacagawea was a "good will ambassador" for the Expedition, the view that Lewis and Clark maintained a friendship and co-captaincy of "perfect harmony," and the notion that at Lemhi Pass Meriwether Lewis experienced a palpable disappointment when he saw ranges of mountains that he must still traverse before he reached navigable waters of the Columbia River system.

The author also attempts to make sense of Lewis's mental decline in the Pacific Northwest, especially on the return journey up the Columbia in the spring of 1806. Nicandri, who unhesitatingly believes that Lewis committee suicide on October 11, 1809, carefully attempts to identify the seeds of that self-destruction at the far side of the North American continent.

"This is a book that every lover of the Lewis and Clark story will want to read," says former Dakota Institute Press editor-in-chief Clay Jenkinson. "It's an outstanding study of the least-written-about section of the trail. Nicandri is smart, clever, and thoughtful, and his writing is a pleasure to read. Not everyone will agree with all of his conclusions, but he has taken seriously the challenge of viewing what we all thought we knew with fresh eyes. He's done all of us a great service. We are thrilled that this is our first book."

What is the Dakota Institute Press?

The Fort Mandan Foundation created The Dakota Institute, a non-profit entity that makes documentary films, publishes books, creates exhibits, and conducts interviews with notable people.

The mission of the Dakota Institute Press is to publish three to five books per year on a range of subjects relating to Lewis and Clark, the history of the American West, the Missouri River basin, Great Plains history, the history of North Dakota, and the literature of the landscape included in the Louisiana Purchase.

The Dakota Institute Press is soliciting book ideas, treatments, and manuscripts from historians, biographers, geographers, anthropologists, archaeologists, students of Native American culture; and novelists, poets, essayists, and memoirists.

For more information, see http://www.fortmandan.com/dakota-institute/the-dakota-institute-press/.