Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Fort Clatsop begins its 2008-09 "In Their Footsteps" free speakers series. The first program in this monthly series is "Innovators and Traders: The Indigenous People of the Columbia River," presented by Pat Courtney Gold held at 1 p.m. Sunday.

International commerce, diplomatic relations, cultural exchanges and tourism are hot topics today in the Pacific Northwest much as they have been for thousands of years among the indigenous people who live along the Columbia River. These civilized and prosperous nations developed an international marketplace which, by the 1700s, included trade with Russia, Spain, England, China and America; yet their story is often untold in histories of the region.

Gold will discuss the rich heritage of cultural and financial commerce conducted up and down the Columbia River. From technological innovations such as salmon processing to social interactions such as dating, marriage and gambling, the Columbia provided a conduit to the wider world. Just as questions of sustainability impact modern commerce, Gold will show how native peoples' relationship to the natural world provided the first environmentally-friendly model of trade.

Gold is a fiber artist specializing in full-turn twined baskets with geometric human figures and motifs from to the Columbia River area. She is a Wasco native enrolled in the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

This is a Chatauqua program from the Oregon Council for the Humanities, an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities that believes that knowledge and ideas are fundamental to the health of our communities.

Other In Their Footsteps: speaker series programs include:

Oct. 19,  1 p.m.: "Becoming Oregon: A Printed History," by Robert L. Hamm

Nov. 16, 1 p.m.: "Lewis and Clark and the International Competition for Oregon," by Mark Eifler

This third-Sunday forum is sponsored by the Lewis and Clark National Park Association, Oregon Council for the Humanities, Officer's Inn Bed & Breakfast, and the park. The programs are held in the Netul River Room of Fort Clatsop's visitor center and are free.

For more information, call the park at (503) 861-2471.