The site chosen for Fort Atkinson was the same area chosen by Lewis and Clark in 1804 for their grand council with the Missouri-Otoe Nation. This was the first meeting between a western tribe and the United States Government. The members of the expedition, who met with the Missouri-Otoe on a high bluff overlooking the Missouri River, gave the region the name of “Council Bluffs” to commerate this historic meeting. The name of Council Bluffs stuck for the general area, and it was soon referred to by that name by all who travelled through here. Clark was specific in the journals of the expedition in pointing out that the Bluff would be well suited to build a Fort on in the future. Hence when the Yellowstone Expedition of 1819 headed out, they chose to build here at the “Council Bluffs.”
Of course the historic name of the region lives on in the City of Council Bluffs, Iowa. But visitors today can walk the same bluffs that Lewis and Clark walked on the “Council Bluff” on that long ago day in 1804 when a young United States was beginning its westward movement into the new Louisiana Territory.