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Fort Lisa was one of several important Euro-American fur trade sites in the vicinity of what is today Omaha, Nebraska. It, along with the other sites on that stretch of the Missouri River, were key locations both for trade with local tribes and as waypoints for those travelling to northern tribes in the early 19th Century. With the decline of the fur trade era, most of the sites that were once so central to life on the Missouri were abandoned and lost to memory. Archaeologists have rediscovered many of the sites along the Missouri River, including Fort Clark and Fort Union on the upper Missouri and Cabannè’s and Fontenelle’s trading posts in Nebraska. Another important find from the 19th Century was Engineer Cantonment, the winter camp of Stephen Long’s Yellowstone Expedition. While not a fur trade site, it is a vital component to identifying the location of Fort Lisa.
Due to a lack of precise data about the location of Fort Lisa, it is difficult to know exactly where to begin searching for the site. Fortunately, there are several contemporary accounts that discuss the fort and its proximity to other nearby landmarks. With this information, I employed Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to develop a site specific suitability model to identify areas with higher or lower likelihood of locating the fort. This model offers a starting point from which to commence an informed search for Fort Lisa.
Advisor: Heather Richards-Rissetto