Fort Pierre and its surroundings have significant connections to the Lewis and Clark expeditions. The expedition’s first introduction to the region was on the evening of Monday, September 24, 1804, when Lewis, Clark, and their entourage of 43 men and three boats anchored at the mouth of what is now known as Bad River. This location today is Fischers Lilly Park in Fort Pierre. The consequent days which saw the expedition’s first interaction with the Lakota people, then known as the Teton Sioux, proved contentious. Challenges in communication and differing objectives led to what many believe was the closest the expedition came to ending. We know this today because much of the interaction was recorded in Captain Clark’s journal, including the following excerpt:
“and such curiosities as we thought might amuse them; in this we succeeded to well; for after giving them a quarter of a glass of whiskey, which they seemed to like very much, and sucked the bottle dry, it was with much difficulty that we could get rid of them. They at last accompanied Captain Clark on shore in a dugout canoe with five men; but it seems they had formed a design to stop us; for no sooner had the party landed that three of the Indians seized the cable of the dugout canoe, and one of the soldiers of the chief put his arms around the mast; the second chief, who was intoxicated, then said, that we should not go on, that they had not received presents enough from us…” Excerpt from Captain Clarks Journal.
Today, visitors can visit Fischers Lilly Park along with the thriving towns of Pierre and Fort Pierre, located on opposite sides of the Missouri River. The area is known for its political significance as capital of the state, high density of museums and historic sites, its plethora of outdoor recreation activities including fishing and water sports on the Missouri River, and hunting and bird watching in the Fort Pierre National Grassland and surroundings.