George Drouillard

George Drouillard

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George Drouillard was a civilian interpreter for the Lewis and Clark's Voyage of Discovery.


George Drouillard was born in 1773 at the Detroit River region, son of Pierre Drouillard and a Shawnee
The Shawnee, Shaawanwaki, Shaawanooki and Shaawanowi lenaweeki, are an Algonquian-speaking people native to North America. Historically they inhabited the areas of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania...

 woman of the Flat Head sept named Asoundechris. His father Pierre was employed by the British Indian Department as an interpreter of the Huron language at the time of the Revolutionary War, and is credited with saving the life of Simon Kenton
Simon Kenton
Simon Kenton was a famous United States frontiersman and friend of Daniel Boone, Simon Girty, Spencer Records and Isaac Shelby.-Family and early life:Simon Kenton was alive even before Ohio was a state...

, a prisoner of the Indians at Sandusky, in 1778.

Lewis and Clark

George Drouillard, a great hunter, trapper, cartographer, and a master of many languages (Indian as well as French and English) was hired by Captain Lewis for the expedition into the newly acquired Louisiana Territory
Louisiana Territory
The Territory of Louisiana or Louisiana Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1805 until June 4, 1812, when it was renamed to Missouri Territory...

 in early 1804. Lewis
Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer, soldier, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark...

, who mentioned him often in the journals referring to him as "Drewyer," praised him highly as the most skilled hunter among the men. He often brought in six elk a day and one day he killed eleven elk[3].

Drouillard was one of the non-military members of the Corps and he helped to complete the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, or ″Corps of Discovery Expedition" was the first transcontinental expedition to the Pacific Coast by the United States. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and led by two Virginia-born veterans of Indian wars in the Ohio Valley, Meriwether Lewis and William...

 from Camp Dubois
Camp Dubois
Camp Dubois, near present day Hartford, Illinois, served as the winter camp for the Lewis and Clark Expedition from December 12, 1803, to May 14, 1804.It was located on the east side of the Mississippi River so that it was still in United States territory...

 to the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 and back. For references please read the book "Sign Talker" by James Alexander Thom
James Alexander Thom
James Alexander Thom is an American author, most famous for his works in the Western genre and colonial American history; known for their historical accuracy borne of his painstaking research. Born in Gosport, Indiana, he graduated from Butler University and served in the United States Marine Corps...



With John Potts and Peter Weise, who were also on the Lewis & Clark expedition, Drouillard traveled back up the Missouri River in 1807 as part of an expedition led by Manuel Lisa
Manuel Lisa
Manuel Lisa, also known as Manuel de Lisa , was a Spanish-American fur trader, explorer, and United States Indian agent. He was among the founders in St. Louis of the Missouri Fur Company, an early fur trading company...

. During the winter of 1807-1808 he traveled the lands of the Crow Indians, and gave the information he had gleaned from the Crow to the knowledge of western lands. In 1809 he joined the Missouri Fur Company
Missouri Fur Company
The Missouri Fur Company was one of the earliest fur trading companies in St. Louis, Missouri. Dissolved and reorganized several times, it operated under various names from 1809 until its final dissolution in 1830. It was created by a group of fur traders and merchants from St...

. In the year 1810, during one of his beaver trapping trips from which he failed to return one day during the expedition, a search party found his remains, severely mangled by an Indian attack. His head had been cut off and his entrails were spewed about. His comrades later praised him for his bravery, saying that he must have fought and killed several Indians until his own demise. He was hastily buried in an unmarked grave.

Mount Drouillard (formerly Mount Drewyer) in Teton County, Montana, is named in his honor.

Further reading

  • Thom, James Alexander. (2000). Sign-Talker. New York, Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-39003-2. (A novelized biography of George Drouillard.)