Lewis & Clark artifact visits Statehouse; will be displayed at newly renovated state museumFebruary 13, 2017 | In the Press
A rare historical artifact from the time of explorers Lewis and Clark was on display in the chamber of Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee today at the close of the budget hearing on the Idaho State Historical Society, and also is paying a visit to the House and Senate chambers this week. It’s a battle axe that is thought to be one of those fashioned by the blacksmith for the Lewis and Clark Expedition in early 1805, and traded to the Mandan Indians in exchange for corn. The unusually shaped blade was discovered along the Snake River around 1960, in a Nez Perce Indian campsite just 20 miles from where one was seen on the Clearwater River with Nez Perce Indians in 1806.
The shape of the battle axe, described as an “espontoon,” which is a type of weapon also known as a half-pike, was so unusual that Meriwether Lewis drew its image in his official journal; the artifact closely matches his drawing. It among artifacts that will be displayed in Idaho’s new state Historical Museum when it reopens after its current renovation.
The Historical Society’s budget request for next year shows a whopping 43 percent decrease from the current year, but that’s largely because the current year’s budget included $8 million-plus for the museum renovation – half from state funds, and half from donations – to be spent both this year and next year. In state general funds, the governor’s recommendation for the Historical Society next year is $4 million; in total funds, including dedicated and federal funds, it comes to $8 million. It includes $1 million in state funds to open and operate the newly renovated museum, which is scheduled to open to the public in March of 2018.