Into the Wilderness: First Contact
Explorers who first visited remote regions of the world often encountered indigenous tribes that spoke languages unlike anything ever imagined. Nevertheless, communication was essential. An excellent example of such cross-lingual encounters can be found in the journals of the American explorers Lewis and Clark.
During their transcontinental expedition across North America in 1805 Lewis and Clark met fifty-two aboriginal tribes. Their journals describe each encounter and the techniques they used to bridge the communication and cultural gap. This lecture will highlight several of these conversations to show the variety of approaches Lewis and Clark used to comprehend spoken and gestured communication.
In addition Rex Ziak will display the power of speech in a real-world educational experience. To demonstrate this he will combine a well-told story with simple visual aids in a way that will create an indelible impression on the audience’s memory.
Rex Ziak has a unique claim to fame: he uncovered a missing chapter of early American history that resulted in the founding of America's newest national park! Lewis & Clark's arrival at the Pacific Ocean had confused historians for nearly two hundred years. Some scholars overlooked what took place while others misinterpreted the events. Rex accidentally stumbled upon this gap in our history and became intrigued. With no formal higher education but ample passion and curiosity he dug into the Lewis and Clark journals, closely examining every word, studying their maps and repeatedly retracing sections of their route on foot. He even calculated the tides and phases of the moon to better understand the exact conditions the explorers endured in November of 1805. Finally, after more than six years of research, Rex published his discoveries, which contradicted everything we’d come to believe about Lewis & Clark’s arrival at the Pacific. At first, scholars challenged Rex's new interpretation, but after further investigation and re-examination of the journals, they acknowledged his breakthrough findings. The Oregon Historical Society has named Rex a Distinguished Historian on three separate occasions, more than any other historian. And in 2004 the Federal government honored his groundbreaking research by purchasing the sites he had identified and creating the Lewis & Clark National Historic Park – America’s newest national park.
He has written three books including his most recent IN FULL VIEW: A TRUE AND ACCURATE ACCOUNT OF LEWIS AND CLARK’S ARRIVAL AT THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND THEIR SEARCH FOR A WINTER CAMP ALONG THE LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER. Rex is an extraordinary character. The son of a logger, he has worked as a professional photographer and cinematographer - for which he won an Emmy 1993. As a young man he traveled solo through Central and South America ultimately settling in a small rural village in the mountains of Mexico for two years. Upon returning to the United States he had to learn to wear shoes and speak English again. And in 1990, Rex single-handedly took on a multi-national corporation to defend the last parcel of threatened ancient rainforest in southwest Washington. He devised a unique approach to persuade the corporate owners to protect the trees rather than cutting and selling them. Today the forest is alive, thriving and fully protected.