Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 25:3 (Summer 2005). Copyright © 2005 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Long before Lewis and Clark launched their journey of exploration up the Missouri, Native peoples used the river to penetrate and open the Northern Plains to settlement and trade. As a result, the American explorers came across people with sophisticated understandings of the social and geopolitical situation of the Northern Plains, people whose calculated agendas spoke to different and independent visions of the West than the vision advocated by Lewis and Clark. It was such calculation that led one man, Sheheke, or White Coyote, of the Mandan to embark on his own epic voyage of exploration down the river and then on to Washington to meet with President Thomas Jefferson. Tracy Potter tells Sheheke's remarkable story in Sheheke, Mandan Indian Diplomat.