Many people believe that the drive to explore is part of what makes us human. From pre-history to modern times, our ancestors have crossed great distances on foot, in boats and vehicles, and on the backs of animals to find new lands. They established trade, exchanged ideas, and ran into unimagined obstacles and rewards along the way. Not only do we explore geographically; we explore ideas, art, music, science, space, emotions, ways of communicating, and life itself. Exploration is a way of learning that spans all time periods and all cultures. People are attracted to things they don’t know about and have never seen. They also seek knowledge and the resources they need to survive.
So why do people explore? What do they hope to discover? Is exploration driven by curiosity? Is exploring about finding “what’s out there” and is making a discovery to the benefit of all? Or has exploration and discovery taught us that as long as we say “we saw it first”, whether it is a species of bird, a medicine, or a continent, it is ours to keep and use as we wish?
When we look specifically at the history of the Pacific Northwest, these kinds of questions can guide us, helping us to see ”exploration” and “discovery” in different contexts and from different perspectives. If we look at exploration as a broad phenomenon, we can reflect on the positive and negative of past exploration, what exploration in science is doing, and how technology has opened new paths for exploration. See what you can discover.