Boise Art

Directions to the Buffet - How the Lewis and Clark Expedition Was Saved

This bronze sculpture pays tribute to everyone's favorite buckskin-clad voyagers, Lewis and Clark.

During their trip to the Pacific Ocean in September 1805, they crossed the Bitterroot Mountains into what is now Idaho. Due to the rugged terrain and deep snows, the expedition had a few weeks of very rough traveling in our beloved state, eating horse meat and other French delicacies just to fend off starvation. When they finally stumbled out of the mountains onto the Palouse, they were lucky to find the Nez Perce, who for some strange reason were kind enough not to kill the beleaguered and very hairy explorers on the spot. The Indians also found a way to ignore the explorers' righteous B.O. when they invited the men into their teepees to smoke the pipe and share natural remedies for the syphilis the enlisted men had acquired from those dirty little Mandan girls in North Dakota. All this generosity just goes to show that no good deed ever goes unpunished, as fellow Nez Perce gentleman Chief Joseph would discover in 1877.

According to a reputable high school history book, the first thing the explorers asked the Nez Perce was if there was a Chuck-A-Rama nearby, for they had experienced much suffering in the mountains and were really craving some chicken fried chicken. It is also a well-known fact that most of the expedition members were looking forward to making their own soft-serve ice cream cones, but as you might remember, only Sacajawea could consistently get that perfect curly-q top like they do at Dairy Queen.

This historical sculpture captures the particular moment when the Nez Perce and Chief Twisted Hair shared their knowledge and foodstuffs in exchange for a worthless Jefferson peace medal. When the Indians informed Lewis and Clark that the nearest Chuck-A-Rama was in Boise, some 270 miles away, the expedition members settled for what was handy and gorged themselves on salmon instead. This proved to be a terrible mistake indeed, as the term "sockeye squat" soon entered the American vernacular. Plus they had to do without apple pie.

The part of this sculpture that's always disturbed me is the little Indian boy squatting and pointing at the ground. It looks like he's playing with elk droppings. Sure, we all know that the American Indians were rather poor people who did not have access to cheap manufactured goods from China, but were they really so poor that the kids played marbles with elk poop? And if there was a little Indian boy present at such a momentous historical occasion, I doubt he would've been playing games in the dirt and minding his own business. He would have been hanging all over the explorers asking for candy and trinkets, or he would have been hanging all over his Indian dad telling him that he was bored and wanted to go home and chop up sticks. That's the way kids have been since day one. They're always trying to ruin important events like that.

 

Particulars
Boise-the-Great Name: Directions to the Buffet
Real Name: Hospitality of the Nez Perce
Type: Sculpture
Artist: Doug Hyde
Completed: 2006
Where: Borah Post Office grounds, corner of Capitol Blvd and Bannock

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