Drouillard and Gass return after 199 years

<I>SUBMITTED photo</I><BR>Susan Johnson, Seth Scrabeck, Bonnie Ruch and Roger Wendlick, playing George Drouillard, try out some skins.

NASELLE - After 199 years of absence, George Drouillard, one of the most highly valued members of the Corps of Discovery, came back to the mouth of the Columbia River and traveled to Naselle School on Friday, Nov. 12.

Dressed in buckskins, he shared his life crossing North America with fifth- and sixth-grade students. Two days earlier, Sgt. Patrick Gass, dressed in formal military attire from 1803, visited fourth graders.

Both men - Roger Wendlick and Gary Lentz - shared with the students the essential tools the expedition needed everyday, such as powder horns, knives, animal skins, fire-starters and lead canisters. They told the students stories from the expedition and "spoke" Native American sign language.

Wendlick captured the students' attention with his buffalo skin robe (also known as the first American sleeping bag) and buffalo horns, which could be used for many things.

"I was amazed at the things you can make from buffalo horns," Chris Cameron commented. Rob Baker added, "The knives were cool. The blades were made of buffalo horns and the handles were carved with designs."

Alana Darcher particularly liked feeling the skins and pelts from elk, deer, otter, beaver and ermine. Keely McGuire was impressed with the historians' knowledge and recall. Beau Santjer enjoyed the stories, especially "the part when Capt. Lewis got shot in the rear."

But Janie Kimball summed the visits up with her statement: "He was awesome, he's going down in history."

(Special thanks to Sandy Stonebreaker for arranging the visits.)

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