LONG BEACH, Wash. • It was a long time coming, but the descendants of explorer William Clark have tried to make amends for a 205-year-old theft.
A descendant of the explorer in the Corps of Discovery expedition presented the Chinook Indian Nation with a replica of a canoe that the corps stole in 1806.
Some of Clark's descendants and a few donors stepped forward to pay for the canoe, which was custom-built in Veneta, Ore. The five-hour ceremony on Saturday included songs, gift exchanges and the maiden voyage of the replica canoe.
Ray Gardner, chairman of the Chinook Nation's tribal council, said the return of the canoe is a "good place to begin healing."
After completing their journey west and spending the winter at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1806, Clark and Meriwether Lewis found they were short a canoe, so they stole one from the Clatsop Indians. The Clatsop later became one of five tribes to form the Chinook Indian Nation.
It has long been a sore subject with the tribes in the Pacific Northwest, who perceived the theft as a major insult.
Carlota Clark Holton of St. Louis, seven generations removed from William Clark, said she was overwhelmed by the acceptance of her family by tribe members.
"It's been a wonderful experience. The Chinook people totally accepted us," Holton said. "After 205 years, it was certainly overdue."