Many voices: Under the tent of Corps II

What looks like a unique cultural experience associated with the Lewis and Clark bicentennial pulled into the parking lot of the Monticello Visitor’s Center last week.
“The Corps of Discovery II: 200 Years to the Future” is an exhibition on wheels designed to capture and share the many voices involved in this historic expedition.
Coordinated by the National Park Service in conjunction with numerous local, state, federal, and tribal partners, the exhibition’s journey begins where Lewis and Clark began-– at Monticello—and will continue through the Eastern Legacy states and the American heartland to the Pacific Ocean, eventually ending in St. Louis in 2006.
A far cry from horseback, this free public pageant travels in a custom-made, traffic-stopping 53’ semi-trailer, decorated with Lewis and Clark-inspired murals. Out of this container emerge two enormous tents.
Visitors begin their Corps II experience in the intro tent, where images on the walls tell the expedition’s story. If you have the time (37 minutes, to be exact), check out a headset and listen to a re-telling of the Lewis and Clark saga, which pays special tribute to the Native American tribes they encountered.
But the real draw is the 150-seat, state-of-the art performance Tent of Many Voices. For three weeks, the Charlottesville community will be privy to virtually non-stop demonstrations, living history presentations, music, folklore, a “Native America Speaks” series-– and more.
On Thursday, January 16, Dark Rain Thom of the Shawnee Nation illuminates aspects of her people’s history and traditions both before and since the expedition (10am), Chief Cliff Snider of the Chinook Tribe shares his knowledge of the northwest coast Chinookan people, whom Lewis and Clark lived among in the winter of 1805-06 (2pm), and US Fish and Wildlife biologists tell about “The Recovery of the California Condor” (3pm).
On Friday, January 17, composer and interpreter of the traditional northern plains Indian flute Keith Bear performs (2pm).
On Sunday, January 19, Craig Rockwell uses his knowledge and uncanny resemblance to William Clark to perform a compelling first-person costumed portrayal of the expedition’s co-leader (11am), singer/songwriter David Walburn performs selections from his musical tribute to the 1803-06 Corps of Discovery (1pm), and Missoula-based smokejumper Lori Messenger talks about fighting wildfires from a parachute (2pm).
So pull up a chair (campfire optional), listen, and discover something new about the past– before it drives away.

“Corps of Discovery II: 200 Years to the Future,” a traveling federal interagency exhibition and performance tent is the site of daily talks, historical reenactments, musical performances, and demonstrations through January 28 at the Monticello Visitor Center parking lot. 10am-4pm daily (2pm-4pm January 18). After this inaugural stop, the tents moves to the Water Street Parking Lot, for a run February 1-9. Free. See for the complete schedule.