In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase, a huge area of land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains in the center of what is now the United States.
To find out more about the region and the people who lived there, he sent out a small team of explorers led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
In the fall of 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition reached the Pacific Ocean. There, they were met by the Chinook and the Clatsop, who lived along the mouth of the Columbia River. Accustomed to trading with whites, the Indians were friendly to the visitors and became their trading partners.
The Clatsop persuaded the explorers to spend the winter in their lands, where Lewis and Clark built a cluster of cabins they called Fort Clatsop.