Cory Skyler Drouillard, left, and Chris Harris discuss how they believe a local man, George Drouillard, born in Sandwich in the 1770s, was responsible for guiding the Lewis and Clark expedition west of the Mississippi River. They are holding a drawing with a question mark over Sacagawea, who has been viewed as Lewis and Clark’s guide.
Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star
For five years Cory Skyler Drouillard has been trying to tell fellow Americans that his relative George Drouillard had a more important role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition than history affords him.But Americans didn’t seem to want to hear it.Our country doesn’t like it because we’re basically raining on their paradeSo Drouillard came to the birthplace of his fourth-great uncle to try to convince Canadians to embrace the explorer with Sandwich roots.“Had it not been for a Canadian named George Drouillard the west never would have been opened,” he said Thursday at press conference held at a west Windsor hotel.The 28-year-old former inline speed skater from Virginia came to Windsor for the first time Thursday with his Beverly Hills publicist to talk about George Drouillard, who was born in Sandwich in the 1770s. He was recruited in Illinois in 1803 when the expedition began and Cory contends his ancestor was a paid guide and interpreter even though the Shoshone woman Sacagawea gets more attention.After the Louisiana Purchase, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson ordered the 1804-1806 expedition of about 50 people lead by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the land west of the Mississippi River.A painting by Edgar Paxson depicts Sacagawea pointing the way and that image has been seared in American minds, said publicist Chris Harris.Then there’s The Conquest: The True Story of Lewis and Clark by Eva Emery Dye. Without photographs or detailed information to add to the author’s research, it is a mostly fictional account but the 1902 book helped establish Sacagawea as a key part of American history.
Chris Harris believes a local man, George Drouillard, born in Sandwich in the 1770s, was responsible for guiding the Lewis and Clark expedition west of the Mississippi River.
Nick Brancaccio /
“Our country doesn’t like it because we’re basically raining on their parade,” Harris said.There’s more information available now on George Drouillard and he deserves more credit in the expedition, Harris said. He joined the trek before Sacagawea, he was paid, and he brought more skills from hunting to mapmaking that made him more likely to have been a key guide and interpreter.To think that someone from Windsor got to play an important role in the Lewis and Clark expedition is wild, St. Clair College journalism student Nicole Neuts said Thursday.She stumbled upon the story while researching her Metis heritage and believes she is George’s distant cousin. “I thought it was so cool especially because I’m so passionate about history.”There isn’t agreement on what year George Drouillard was born in the 1770s. She said there is a baptism record with Assumption Church that goes back to 1775.His father was French Canadian and his mother was Shawnee, Neuts said. He died in 1810.Five years ago Cory had planned to roller blade roughly along the expedition route to raise awareness. That didn’t garner much attention and he lost his sponsor. He said he’s already spent about $80,000 and is trying to raise money to skate across Canada this summer in a final effort to boost his ancestor’s place in the history books.“You know what, America’s not listening. George Drouillard was Canadian,” he said. “Maybe they’ll listen or maybe they’ll cause a situation where America will listen.”Related email@example.com/winstarhill