Thomas Jefferson's notes on Indian tribes and populations in Louisiana, 1803
Jefferson sought eye-witness information about the diverse peoples and regions of the newly acquired Louisiana territory. Here he made notes about the size and characteristics of Indian nations based on the journal of Jean Baptiste Truteau, who encountered many Native Americans in his exploration up the Missouri River in 1794.
The crow nation inhabit near the Rock mountain. The Sioux their neighbors & very powerful, abounding in firearms…
Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
Creating a National Community
In 1803, the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France, more than doubling the size of the country and adding new populations with diverse languages and cultures. Residents of New Orleans—of French, Spanish, African, Cajun, and Acadian descent—were apprehensive about the transfer of power. As they sought to learn about their new government, President Jefferson gathered data about Indian nations of the northwest, reaching into present-day North and South Dakota.