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About York

York achieved fame as the sole African American member of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

From 1804 to 1806  York was the first African American to travel East To West through the Northern Plains On Foot.


York was a valued and trusted expedition member. In addition to providing extensive physical labor, he helped feed the corps through hunting and trading and provided medical and diplomatic services.

Perhaps no member of the expedition drew more curiosity than York. He was said to be very large and strong, striking with his dark skin and curly hair.


Though he shared in all the duties that the enlisted men did, York often was paraded among the Indians as an object of curiosity. Quite simply, most Indians the expedition encountered had never seen a black man before, let alone one with York’s imposing stature. As Clark wrote Oct. 9, 1804.


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