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People Encountered - How Did Tribes Fare in the Wake of the Expedition?

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smallpox drawing from winter count

In the years between the expedition and the close of the frontier in 1890, tribes who lived in the areas the Corps of Discovery visited fared very badly indeed. Almost immediately after 1806, fur traders representing many concerns went upriver to exploit the rich fur bearing regions Lewis and Clark had described. The result was an increased dependence on Euro-American wares, growing settlement, and the introduction of disease, notably smallpox. Indeed, the Mandan and Hidatsa were hit particularly hard in the late 1830's, resulting in a devastating loss of life. Other long-term results included the eventual introduction of the reservation system and allotment, a paternal government policy that ultimately reduced once self-sufficient peoples to poverty and despair.

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