Part 3 out of 6
Philosophy River is now known as Willow Creek, and at its mouth, a busy little
railroad town, is Willow City. The northwest fork is no longer Wisdom,
but Big Hole River; deep valleys among the mountains are known as holes;
and the stream called by that name, once Wisdom, is followed along
its crooked course by a railroad that connects Dillon, Silver Bow,
and Butte City, Montana. Vulgarity does its worst for Philanthropy;
its modern name on the map is Stinking Water.
On the thirtieth of July, the party, having camped long enough to unpack
and dry their goods, dress their deerskins and make them into leggings
and moccasins, reloaded their canoes and began the toilsome ascent
of the Jefferson. The journal makes this record:--
"Sacajawea, our Indian woman, informs us that we are encamped
on the precise spot where her countrymen, the Snake Indians,
had their huts five years ago, when the Minnetarees of Knife River
first came in sight of them, and from whom they hastily retreated
three miles up the Jefferson, and concealed themselves in the woods.
The Minnetarees, however, pursued and attacked them, killed four men,
as many women, and a number of boys; and made prisoners of four
other boys and all the females, of whom Sacajawea was one.
She does not, however, show any distress at these recollections,
nor any joy at the prospect of being restored to her country;
for she seems to possess the folly, or the philosophy, of not
suffering her feelings to extend beyond the anxiety of having
plenty to eat and a few trinkets to wear.
"This morning the hunters brought in some fat deer of the long-tailed
red kind, which are quite as large as those of the United States,
and are, indeed, the only kind we have found at this place.
There are numbers of the sand-hill cranes feeding in the meadows:
we caught a young one of the same color as the red deer, which,
though it had nearly attained its full growth, could not fly;
it is very fierce, and strikes a severe blow with its beak. . . .
"Captain Lewis proceeded after dinner through an extensive low
ground of timber and meadow-land intermixed; but the bayous
were so obstructed by beaver-dams that, in order to avoid them,
he directed his course toward the high plain on the right.
This he gained with some difficulty, after wading up to his waist
through the mud and water of a number of beaver-dams. When
he desired to rejoin the canoes he found the underbrush so thick,
and the river so crooked, that this, joined to the difficulty
of passing the beaver-dams, induced him to go on and endeavor
to intercept the river at some point where it might be more
collected into one channel, and approach nearer the high plain.
He arrived at the bank about sunset, having gone only six miles
in a direct course from the canoes; but he saw no traces of the men,
nor did he receive any answer to his shouts and the firing of his gun.
It was now nearly dark; a duck lighted near him, and he shot it.
He then went on the head of a small island, where he found
some driftwood, which enabled him to cook his duck for supper,
and laid down to sleep on some willow-brush. The night was cool,
but the driftwood gave him a good fire, and he suffered no inconvenience,
except from the mosquitoes."
The easy indifference to discomfort with which these well-seasoned
pioneers took their hardships must needs impress the reader.
It was a common thing for men, or for a solitary man,
to be caught out of camp by nightfall and compelled to bivouac,
like Captain Lewis, in the underbrush, or the prairie-grass. As
they pressed on, game began to fail them. Under date of July 31,
they remark that the only game seen that day was one bighorn,
a few antelopes, deer, and a brown bear, all of which escaped them.
"Nothing was killed to-day," it is recorded, "nor have we
had any fresh meat except one beaver for the last two days;
so that we are now reduced to an unusual situation,
for we have hitherto always had a great abundance of flesh."
Indeed, one reason for this is found in Captain Lewis's remark:
"When we have plenty of fresh meat, I find it impossible to make
the men take any care of it, or use it with the least frugality,
though I expect that necessity will shortly teach them this art."
We shall see, later on, that the men, who were really as improvident
of food as the Indians, had hard lessons from necessity.
Anxious to reach the Indians, who were believed to be somewhere ahead of them,
Captain Lewis and three men went on up the Jefferson, Captain Clark and his
party following with the canoes and luggage in a more leisurely manner.
The advance party were so fortunate as to overtake a herd of elk,
two of which they killed; what they did not eat they left secured
for the other party with the canoes. Clark's men also had good luck
in hunting, for they killed five deer and one bighorn. Neither party
found fresh tracks of Indians, and they were greatly discouraged thereat.
The journal speaks of a beautiful valley, from six to eight miles wide,
where they saw ancient traces of buffalo occupation, but no buffalo.
These animals had now completely disappeared; they were seldom seen
in those mountains. The journal says of Lewis:--
"He saw an abundance of deer and antelope, and many tracks of elk and bear.
Having killed two deer, they feasted sumptuously, with a dessert of
currants of different colors--two species red, others yellow, deep purple,
and black; to these were added black gooseberries and deep purple
service-berries, somewhat larger than ours, from which they differ also
in color, size, and the superior excellence of their flavor. In the low
grounds of the river were many beaver-dams formed of willow-brush, mud,
and gravel, so closely interwoven that they resist the water perfectly;
some of them were five feet high, and caused the river to overflow several
acres of land."
Meanwhile, the party with the canoes were having a fatiguing time
as they toiled up the river. On the fourth of August, after they
had made only fifteen miles, the journal has this entry:--
"The river is still rapid, and the water, though clear, is very much
obstructed by shoals or ripples at every two hundred or three hundred yards.
At all these places we are obliged to drag the canoes over the stones,
as there is not a sufficient depth of water to float them, and in
the other parts the current obliges us to have recourse to the cord.
But as the brushwood on the banks will not permit us to walk on shore,
we are under the necessity of wading through the river as we drag the boats.
This soon makes our feet tender, and sometimes occasions severe falls
over the slippery stones; and the men, by being constantly wet,
are becoming more feeble. In the course of the day the hunters killed
two deer, some geese and ducks, and the party saw some antelopes,
cranes, beaver, and otter."
Captain Lewis had left a note for Captain Clark at the forks
of the Jefferson and Wisdom rivers. Clark's journal says:--
"We arrived at the forks about four o'clock, but, unluckily, Captain Lewis's
note had been attached to a green pole, which the beaver had cut down,
and carried off with the note on it: an accident which deprived us
of all information as to the character of the two branches of the river.
Observing, therefore, that the northwest fork was most in our direction,
we ascended it. We found it extremely rapid, and its waters were
scattered in such a manner that for a quarter of a mile we were forced
to cut a passage through the willow-brush that leaned over the little
channels and united at the top. After going up it for a mile, we encamped
on an island which had been overflowed, and was still so wet that we
were compelled to make beds of brush to keep ourselves out of the mud.
Our provision consisted of two deer which had been killed in the morning."
It should be borne in mind that this river, up which the party
were making their way, was the Wisdom (now Big Hole), and was
the northwest fork of the Jefferson, flowing from southeast
to northwest; and near the point where it enters the Jefferson,
it has a loop toward the northeast; that is to say, it comes
from the southwest to a person looking up its mouth.
After going up the Wisdom River, Clark's party were overtaken
by Drewyer, Lewis's hunter, who had been sent across between
the forks to notify Clark that Lewis regarded the other fork--
the main Jefferson--as the right course to take. The party,
accordingly, turned about and began to descend the stream,
in order to ascend the Jefferson. The journal says:--
"On going down, one of the canoes upset and two others filled
with water, by which all the baggage was wet and several articles were
irrecoverably lost. As one of them swung round in a rapid current,
Whitehouse was thrown out of her; while down, the canoe passed over him,
and had the water been two inches shallower would have crushed
him to pieces; but he escaped with a severe bruise of his leg.
In order to repair these misfortunes we hastened [down] to the forks,
where we were joined by Captain Lewis. We then passed over to the left
[east] side, opposite the entrance of the rapid fork, and camped
on a large gravelly bar, near which there was plenty of wood.
Here we opened, and exposed to dry, all the articles which had
suffered from the water; none of them were completely spoiled except
a small keg of powder; the rest of the powder, which was distributed
in the different canoes, was quite safe, although it had been under
the water for upward of an hour. The air is indeed so pure and dry
that any wood-work immediately shrinks, unless it is kept filled
with water; but we had placed our powder in small canisters of lead,
each containing powder enough for the canister when melted into bullets,
and secured with cork and wax, which answered our purpose perfectly.
. . . . . . . .
In the evening we killed three deer and four elk, which furnished
us once more with a plentiful supply of meat. Shannon, the same
man who had been lost for fifteen days [August 28 to Sept. 11,
1804], was sent out this morning to hunt, up the northwest fork.
When we decided on returning, Drewyer was directed to go in quest of him,
but be returned with information that he had gone several miles up
the [Wisdom] river without being able to find Shannon. We now had
the trumpet sounded, and fired several guns; but he did not return,
and we fear he is again lost."
This man, although an expert hunter, had an unlucky habit
of losing himself in the wilderness, as many another good man
has lost himself among the mountains or the great plains.
This time, however, he came into camp again, after being
lost three days.
On the eighth of August the party reached a point now known
by its famous landmark, Beaver Head, a remarkable rocky formation
which gives its name to Beaverhead County, Montana. The Indian
woman, Sacajawea, recognized the so-called beaver-head, which,
she said, was not far from the summer retreat of her countrymen,
living on the other side of the mountains. The whole party
were now together again, the men with the canoes having come up;
and the journal says:--
"Persuaded of the absolute necessity of procuring horses to cross
the mountains, it was determined that one of us should proceed
in the morning to the head of the river, and penetrate the mountains
till he found the Shoshonees or some other nation who can assist
us in transporting our baggage, the greater part of which we shall
be compelled to leave without the aid of horses.". . .
Early the next day Captain Lewis took Drewyer, Shields, and M'Neal, and,
slinging their knapsacks, they set out with a resolution to meet some nation
of Indians before they returned, however long they might be separated
from the party.
The party in the canoes continued to ascend the river,
which was so crooked that they advanced but four miles in a direct
line from their starting-place in a distance of eleven miles.
In this manner, the party on foot leading those with the canoes,
they repeatedly explored the various forks of the streams,
which baffled them by their turnings and windings. Lewis was
in the advance, and Clark brought up the rear with the main body.
It was found necessary for the leading party to wade the streams,
and occasionally they were compelled by the roughness
of the way to leave the water-course and take to the hills,
where great vigilance was required to keep them in sight
of the general direction in which they must travel.
On the 11th of August, 1805, Captain Lewis came in sight of the first
Indian encountered since leaving the country of the Minnetarees,
far back on the Missouri. The journal of that date says:
"On examining him with the glass Captain Lewis saw that he was
of a different nation from any Indians we had hitherto met.
He was armed with a bow and a quiver of arrows, and mounted
on an elegant horse without a saddle; a small string attached
to the under jaw answered as a bridle.
"Convinced that he was a Shoshonee, and knowing how much
our success depended on the friendly offices of that nation,
Captain Lewis was full of anxiety to approach without alarming him,
and endeavor to convince him that he [Lewis] was a white man.
He therefore proceeded toward the Indian at his usual pace.
When they were within a mile of each other the Indian suddenly stopped.
Captain Lewis immediately followed his example, took his
blanket from his knapsack, and, holding it with both hands
at the two corners, threw it above his head, and unfolded it
as he brought it to the ground, as if in the act of spreading it.
This signal, which originates in the practice of spreading
a robe or skin as a seat for guests to whom they wish to show
a distinguished kindness, is the universal sign of friendship among
the Indians on the Missouri and the Rocky Mountains. As usual,
Captain Lewis repeated this signal three times: still the Indian
kept his position, and looked with an air of suspicion on
Drewyer and Shields, who were now advancing on each side.
Captain Lewis was afraid to make any signal for them to halt,
lest he should increase the distrust of the Indian, who began
to be uneasy, and they were too distant to hear his voice.
He therefore took from his pack some beads, a looking-glass,
and a few trinkets, which he bad brought for the purpose, and,
leaving his gun, advanced unarmed towards the Indian. He remained
in the same position till Captain Lewis came within two hundred yards
of him, when he turned his horse and began to move off slowly.
Captain Lewis then called out to him in as loud a voice as he could,
repeating the words tabba bone, which in the Shoshonee language
mean white man. But, looking over his shoulder, the Indian
kept his eyes on Drewyer and Shields, who were still advancing,
without recollecting the impropriety of doing so at such
a moment, till Captain Lewis made a signal to them to halt:
this Drewyer obeyed, but Shields did not observe it, and still
went forward. Seeing Drewyer halt, the Indian turned his horse
about as if to wait for Captain Lewis, who now reached within
one hundred and fifty paces, repeating the words tabba bone,
and holding up the trinkets in his hand, at the same time stripping
up the sleeve of his shirt to show the color of his skin.
The Indian suffered him to advance within one hundred paces,
then suddenly turned his horse, and, giving him the whip, leaped across
the creek, and disappeared in an instant among the willow bushes:
with him vanished all the hopes which the sight of him had inspired,
of a friendly introduction to his countrymen."
Sadly disappointed by the clumsy imprudence of his men, Captain Lewis
now endeavored to follow the track of the retreating Indian,
hoping that this might lead them to an encampment, or village,
of the Shoshonees. He also built a fire, the smoke of which
might attract the attention of the Indians. At the same time,
be placed on a pole near the fire a small assortment
of beads, trinkets, awls, and paints, in order that the Indians,
if they returned that way, might discover them and be
thereby assured the strangers were white men and friends.
Next morning, while trying to follow the trail of the lone Indian,
they found traces of freshly turned earth where people had been
digging for roots; and, later on, they came upon the fresh
track of eight or ten horses. But these were soon scattered,
and the explorers only found that the general direction of
the trails was up into the mountains which define the boundary
between Montana and Idaho. Skirting the base of these mountains
(the Bitter Root), the party endeavored to find a plain trail,
or Indian road, leading up to a practicable pass.
Travelling in a southwesterly direction along the main stream,
they entered a valley which led into the mountains.
Here they ate their last bit of fresh meat, the remainder of a deer
they had killed a day or two before; they reserved for their
final resort, in case of famine, a small piece of salt pork.
The journal says:--
"They then continued through the low bottom, along the
main stream, near the foot of the mountains on their right.
For the first five miles, the valley continues toward the southwest,
being from two to three miles in width; then the main stream,
which had received two small branches from the left in the valley,
turned abruptly to the west through a narrow bottom between the mountains.
The road was still plain, and, as it led them directly on toward
the mountain, the stream gradually became smaller, till, after going
two miles, it had so greatly diminished in width that one of the men,
in a fit of enthusiasm, with one foot on each side of the river,
thanked God that he had lived to bestride the Missouri. As they
went along their hopes of soon seeing the Columbia [that is,
the Pacific watershed] arose almost to painful anxiety, when after four
miles from the last abrupt turn of the river [which turn had been
to the west], they reached a small gap formed by the high mountains,
which recede on each side, leaving room for the Indian road.
From the foot of one of the lowest of these mountains, which rises
with a gentle ascent of about half a mile, issues the remotest
water of the Missouri.
"They had now reached the hidden sources of that river, which had never yet
been seen by civilized man. As they quenched their thirst at the chaste
and icy fountain--as they sat down by the brink of that little rivulet,
which yielded its distant and modest tribute to the parent ocean--they felt
themselves rewarded for all their labors and all their difficulties.
"They left reluctantly this interesting spot, and, pursuing the Indian
road through the interval of the hills, arrived at the top of a ridge,
from which they saw high mountains, partially covered with snow,
still to the west of them.
"The ridge on which they stood formed the dividing line between
the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They followed
a descent much steeper than that on the eastern side, and at
the distance of three-quarters of a mile reached a handsome,
bold creek of cold, clear water running to the westward.
They stopped to taste, for the first time, the waters of the Columbia;
and, after a few minutes, followed the road across steep hills and
low hollows, when they came to a spring on the side of a mountain.
Here they found a sufficient quantity of dry willow-brush for fuel,
and therefore halted for the night; and, having killed nothing
in the course of the day, supped on their last piece of pork,
and trusted to fortune for some other food to mix with a little
flour and parched meal, which was all that now remained
of their provisions."
From the Minnetarees to the Shoshonees
Travelling in a westerly direction, with a very gradual descent,
Captain Lewis, on the thirteenth of August, came upon two Indian women,
a man, and some dogs. The Indians sat down when the strangers first
came in sight, as if to wait for their coming; but, soon taking alarm,
they all fled, much to the chagrin of the white men. Now striking into
a well-worn Indian road, they found themselves surely near a village.
The journal says:--
"They had not gone along the road more than a mile, when on a sudden they
saw three female Indians, from whom they had been concealed by the deep
ravines which intersected the road, till they were now within thirty paces
of each other. One of them, a young woman, immediately took to flight;
the other two, an elderly woman and a little girl, seeing they were too
near for them to escape, sat on the ground, and holding down their heads
seemed as if reconciled to the death which they supposed awaited them.
The same habit of holding down the head and inviting the enemy to strike,
when all chance of escape is gone, is preserved in Egypt to this day.
"Captain Lewis instantly put down his rifle, and advancing
toward them, took the woman by the hand, raised her up,
and repeated the words `tabba bone!' at the same time
stripping up his shirt-sleeve to prove that he was a white man--
for his hands and face had become by constant exposure quite as dark
as their own. She appeared immediately relieved from her alarm;
and Drewyer and Shields now coming up, Captain Lewis gave them
some beads, a few awls, pewter mirrors, and a little paint,
and told Drewyer to request the woman to recall her companion,
who had escaped to some distance and, by alarming the Indians,
might cause them to attack him without any time for explanation.
She did as she was desired, and the young woman returned almost
out of breath. Captain Lewis gave her an equal portion of trinkets,
and painted the tawny checks of all three of them with vermilion,--
a ceremony which among the Shoshonees is emblematic of peace.
"After they had become composed, he informed them by signs
of his wishes to go to their camp, in order to see their chiefs
and warriors; they readily obeyed, and conducted the party
along the same road down the river. In this way they marched
two miles, when they met a troop of nearly sixty warriors,
mounted on excellent horses, riding at full speed toward them.
As they advanced Captain Lewis put down his gun, and went with
the flag about fifty paces in advance. The chief, who with two
men was riding in front of the main body, spoke to the women,
who now explained that the party was composed of white men,
and showed exultingly the presents they had received.
The three men immediately leaped from their horses, came up
to Captain Lewis, and embraced him with great cordiality,
putting their left arm over his right shoulder, and clasping
his back, applying at the same time their left cheek to his,
and frequently vociferating ah hi e! ah hi e! `I am
much pleased, I am much rejoiced.' The whole body of warriors
now came forward, and our men received the caresses, and no
small share of the grease and paint, of their new friends.
After this fraternal embrace, of which the motive was much
more agreeable than the manner, Captain Lewis lighted a pipe,
and offered it to the Indians, who had now seated themselves
in a circle around the party. But, before they would receive
this mark of friendship, they pulled off their moccasins:
a custom, as we afterward learned, which indicates the sacred
sincerity of their professions when they smoke with a stranger,
and which imprecates on themselves the misery of going
barefoot forever if they prove faithless to their words--
a penalty by no means light for those who rove over the thorny
plains of this country. . . .
"After smoking a few pipes, some trifling presents were
distributed among them, with which they seemed very much pleased,
particularly with the blue beads and the vermilion.
Captain Lewis then stated to the chief that the object
of his visit was friendly, and should be explained as soon
as he reached their camp; and that, as the sun was oppressive,
and no water near, he wished to go there as soon as possible.
They now put on their moccasins, and their chief, whose name
was Cameahwait, made a short speech to the warriors.
Captain Lewis then gave him the flag, which he informed him
was among white men the emblem of peace; and, now that he had
received it, was to be in future the bond of union between them.
The chief then moved on; our party followed him; and the rest
of the warriors, in a squadron, brought up the rear."
Arriving at the village, the ceremony of smoking the pipe of peace
was solemnly observed; and the women and children of the tribe were
permitted to gaze with wonder on the first white men they had ever seen.
The Indians were not much better provided with food than were their
half-famished visitors. But some cakes made of service-berries and
choke-berries dried in the sun were presented to the white men "on which,"
says Captain Lewis, "we made a hearty meal." Later in the day, however,
an Indian invited Captain Lewis into his wigwam and treated him to a
small morsel of boiled antelope and a piece of fresh salmon roasted.
This was the first salmon he had seen, and the captain was now assured
that he was on the headwaters of the Columbia. This stream was what is now
known as the Lemhi River. The water was clear and limpid, flowing down
a bed of gravel; its general direction was a little north of west.
The journal says:--
"The chief informed him that this stream discharged, at the distance
of half a day's march, into another [Salmon River] of twice its size,
coming from the southwest; but added, on further inquiry, that there
was scarcely more timber below the junction of those rivers than in
this neighborhood, and that the river was rocky, rapid, and so closely
confined between high mountains that it was impossible to pass down it
either by land or water to the great lake [Pacific Ocean], where,
as he had understood, the white men lived.
"This information was far from being satisfactory, for there was
no timber here that would answer the purpose of building canoes,--
indeed not more than just sufficient for fuel; and even that consisted
of the narrow-leaved cottonwood, the red and the narrow-leaved willow,
chokecherry, service-berry, and a few currant bushes, such as are common
on the Missouri. The prospect of going on by land is more pleasant,
for there are great numbers of horses feeding in every direction round
the camp, which will enable us to transport our stores, if necessary,
over the mountains."
While Captain Lewis was thus engaged, his companions in the canoes were
slowly and laboriously ascending the river on the other side of the divide.
The character of the stream was much as it had been for several days,
and the men were in the water three-fourths of the time, dragging the boats
over the shoals. They had but little success in killing game, but caught,
as they had done for some days before, numbers of fine trout.
"August 14. In order to give time for the boats to reach
the forks of Jefferson River," proceeds the narrative,
"Captain Lewis determined to remain where he was, and obtain
all the information he could collect in regard to the country.
Having nothing to eat but a little flour and parched meal,
with the berries of the Indians, he sent out Drewyer and Shields,
who borrowed horses from the natives, to hunt for a few hours.
About the same time the young warriors set out for the same purpose.
There are but few elk or black tailed deer in this neighborhood;
and as the common red deer secrete themselves in the bushes
when alarmed, they are soon safe from the arrows, which are but feeble
weapons against any animals which the huntsmen cannot previously
run down with their horses. The chief game of the Shoshonees,
therefore, is the antelope, which, when pursued, retreats to
the open plains, where the horses have full room for the chase.
But such is its extraordinary fleetness and wind, that a single
horse has no possible chance of outrunning it or tiring it down,
and the hunters are therefore obliged to resort to stratagem.
"About twenty Indians, mounted on fine horses, and armed with bows and arrows,
left the camp. In a short time they descried a herd of ten antelope:
they immediately separated into little squads of two or three, and formed
a scattered circle round the herd for five or six miles, keeping at a
wary distance, so as not to alarm them till they were perfectly enclosed,
and selecting, as far as possible, some commanding eminence as a stand.
Having gained their positions, a small party rode towards the animals,
and with wonderful dexterity the huntsmen preserved their seats,
and the horses their footing, as they ran at full speed over the hills,
down the steep ravines, and along the borders of the precipices.
They were soon outstripped by the antelopes, which, on gaining the other
extremity of the circle, were driven back and pursued by the fresh hunters.
They turned and flew, rather than ran, in another direction; but there, too,
they found new enemies. In this way they were alternately pursued backward
and forward, till at length, notwithstanding the skill of the hunters,
they all escaped and the party, after running for two hours, returned without
having caught anything, and their horses foaming with sweat. This chase,
the greater part of which was seen from the camp, formed a beautiful scene;
but to the hunters it is exceedingly laborious, and so unproductive,
even when they are able to worry the animal down and shoot him, that forty
or fifty hunters will sometimes be engaged for half a day without obtaining
more than two or three antelope.
"Soon after they returned, our two huntsmen came in with no better success.
Captain Lewis therefore made a little paste with the flour,
and the addition of some berries formed a very palatable repast.
Having now secured the good will of Cameahwait, Captain Lewis informed
him of his wish that he would speak to the warriors, and endeavor
to engage them to accompany him to the forks of Jefferson River;
where by this time another chief [Clark], with a large party
of white men, was awaiting his [Lewis'] return; that it would be
necessary to take about thirty horses to transport the merchandise;
that they should be well rewarded for their trouble; and that,
when all the party should have reached the Shoshonee camp, they would
remain some time among them to trade for horses, as well as concert plans
for furnishing them in future with regular supplies of merchandise.
He readily consented to do so, and after collecting the tribe together,
he made a long harangue. In about an hour and a half he returned,
and told Captain Lewis that they would be ready to accompany him
in the morning."
But the Indians were suspicious and reluctant to take the word of
the white man. Captain Lewis, almost at his wits' end, appealed to
their courage. He said that if they were afraid of being led into a trap,
he was sure that some among them were not afraid.
"To doubt the courage of an Indian is to touch the tenderest string of
his mind, and the surest way to rouse him to any dangerous achievement.
Cameahwait instantly replied that he was not afraid to die,
and mounting his horse, for the third time harangued the warriors.
He told them that he was resolved to go if he went alone,
or if he were sure of perishing; that he hoped there were
among those who heard him some who were not afraid to die,
and who would prove it by mounting their horses and following him.
This harangue produced an effect on six or eight only of the warriors,
who now joined their chief. With these Captain Lewis smoked a pipe;
and then, fearful of some change in their capricious temper,
set out immediately."
The party now retraced the steps so lately taken by Captain Lewis
and his men. On the second day out, one of the spies sent forward by
the Indians came madly galloping back, much to the alarm of the white men.
It proved, however, that the spy had returned to tell his comrades
that one of the white hunters [Drewyer] had killed a deer. An Indian
riding behind Captain Lewis, fearful that he should not get his share
of the spoil, jumped off the horse and ran for a mile at full speed.
The journal says:--
"Captain Lewis slackened his pace, and followed at a sufficient
distance to observe them. When they reached the place where
Drewyer had thrown out the intestines, they all dismounted in
confusion and ran tumbling over each other like famished dogs.
Each tore away whatever part he could, and instantly began to eat it.
Some had the liver, some the kidneys--in short, no part on
which we are accustomed to look with disgust escaped them.
One of them, who had seized about nine feet of the entrails,
was chewing at one end, while with his hand he was diligently
clearing his way by discharging the contents at the other.
It was indeed impossible to see these wretches ravenously feeding
on the filth of animals, the blood streaming from their mouths,
without deploring how nearly the condition of savages approaches
that of the brute creation. Yet, though suffering with hunger,
they did not attempt, as they might have done, to take by force
the whole deer, but contented themselves with what had been thrown
away by the hunter. Captain Lewis now had the deer skinned,
and after reserving a quarter of it gave the rest of the animal
to the chief, to be divided among the Indians, who immediately
devoured nearly the whole of it without cooking. They now went
toward the [Prairie] creek, where there was some brushwood
to make a fire, and found Drewyer, who had killed a second deer.
The same struggle for the entrails was renewed here, and on giving
nearly the whole deer to the Indians, they devoured it even
to the soft part of the hoofs. A fire being made, Captain Lewis
had his breakfast, during which Drewyer brought in a third deer.
This too, after reserving one-quarter, was given to the Indians,
who now seemed completely satisfied and in good humor."
They now approached the forks of the Jefferson, where they
had expected to meet Clark and his party with the canoes.
Not seeing any signs of them, the Lewis party were placed in a
critical position. The Indians were again alarmed and suspicious.
Here Captain Clark's journal says:--
"As they went on towards the point, Captain Lewis, perceiving how
critical his situation had become, resolved to attempt a stratagem,
which his present difficulty seemed completely to justify.
Recollecting the notes he had left at the point for us, he sent Drewyer
for them with an Indian, who witnessed his taking them from the pole.
When they were brought, Captain Lewis told Cameahwait that, on leaving
his brother chief at the place where the river issues from the mountains,
it was agreed that the boats should not be brought higher than the next
forks we should meet; but that, if the rapid water prevented the boats
from coming on as fast as they expected, his brother chief was to send
a note to the first forks above him, to let him know where they were:
that this note had been left this morning at the forks, and mentioned
that the canoes were just below the mountains, and coming up slowly
in consequence of the current. Captain Lewis added that he would stay
at the forks for his brother chief, but would send a man down the river;
and that if Cameahwait doubted what he said, one of their young men
could go with him, while he and the other two remained at the forks.
This story satisfied the chief and the greater part of the Indians;
but a few did not conceal their suspicions, observing that we told
different stories, and complaining that their chief exposed them to
danger by a mistaken confidence. Captain Lewis now wrote, by the light
of some willow-brush, a note to Captain Clark, which he gave to Drewyer,
with an order to use all possible expedition in descending the river,
and engaged an Indian to accompany him by the promise of a knife
and some beads.
"At bedtime the chief and five others slept round the fire of Captain Lewis,
and the rest hid themselves in different parts of the willow-brush
to avoid the enemy, who, they feared, would attack them in the night.
Captain Lewis endeavored to assume a cheerfulness he did not feel,
to prevent the despondency of the savages. After conversing gayly
with them he retired to his mosquito-bier, by the side of which the chief
now placed himself. He lay down, yet slept but little, being in fact
scarcely less uneasy than his Indian companions. He was apprehensive that,
finding the ascent of the river impracticable, Captain Clark might have
stopped below Rattlesnake bluff, and the messenger would not meet him.
The consequence of disappointing the Indians at this moment would most
probably be that they would retire and secrete themselves in the mountains,
so as to prevent our having an opportunity of recovering their confidence.
They would also spread a panic through all the neighboring Indians,
and cut us off from the supply of horses so useful and almost so essential
to our success. He was at the same time consoled by remembering that his
hopes of assistance rested on better foundations than their generosity--
their avarice and their curiosity. He had promised liberal exchanges
for their horses; but what was still more seductive, he had told them
that one of their countrywomen, who had been taken with the Minnetarees,
accompanied the party below; and one of the men had spread the report of our
having with us a man [York] perfectly black, whose hair was short and curled.
This last account had excited a great degree of curiosity, and they seemed
more desirous of seeing this monster than of obtaining the most favorable
barter for their horses."
On the following day, August 17, the two parties of explorers finally met.
Under that date the journal has this interesting entry:--
"Captain Lewis rose very early and despatched Drewyer
and the Indian down the river in quest of the boats.
Shields was sent out at the same time to hunt, while M'Neal
prepared a breakfast out of the remainder of the meat.
Drewyer had been gone about two hours, and the Indians
were all anxiously waiting for some news, when an Indian,
who had straggled a short distance down the river,
returned with a report that he had seen the white men,
who were only a short distance below, and were coming on.
The Indians were transported with joy, and the chief, in the warmth
of his satisfaction, renewed his embrace to Captain Lewis,
who was quite as much delighted as the Indians themselves.
The report proved most agreeably true.
"On setting out at seven o'clock, Captain Clark, with Chaboneau
and his wife, walked on shore; but they had not gone more than a mile
before Captain Clark saw Sacajawea, who was with her husband one
hundred yards ahead, begin to dance and show every mark of the most
extravagant joy, turning round to him and pointing to several Indians,
whom he now saw advancing on horseback, sucking her fingers at
the same time, to indicate that they were of her native tribe.
As they advanced, Captain Clark discovered among them Drewyer dressed
like an Indian, from whom be learned the situation of the party.
While the boats were performing the circuit, he went toward the forks
with the Indians, who, as they went along, sang aloud with the greatest
appearance of delight.
"We soon drew near the camp, and just as we approached it
a woman made her way through the crowd toward Sacajawea;
recognizing each other, they embraced with the most tender affection.
The meeting of these two young women had in it something peculiarly
touching, not only from the ardent manner in which their feelings
were expressed, but also from the real interest of their situation.
They had been companions in childhood; in the war with the
Minnetarees they had both been taken prisoners in the same battle;
they had shared and softened the rigors of their captivity till
one of them had escaped from their enemies with scarce a hope
of ever seeing her friend rescued from their hands.
"While Sacajawea was renewing among the women the friendships
of former days, Captain Clark went on, and was received
by Captain Lewis and the chief, who, after the first embraces
and salutations were over, conducted him to a sort of circular
tent or shade of willows. Here he was seated on a white robe;
and the chief immediately tied in his hair six small shells
resembling pearls, an ornament highly valued by these people,
who procure them in the course of trade from the seacoast.
The moccasins of the whole party were then taken off, and,
after much ceremony, the smoking began. After this the conference
was to be opened; and, glad of an opportunity of being able
to converse more intelligibly, Sacajawea was sent for:
she came into the tent, sat down, and was beginning to interpret,
when in the person of Cameahwait she recognized her brother.
She instantly jumped up, and ran and embraced him,
throwing over him her blanket, and weeping profusely:
the chief was himself moved, though not in the same degree.
After some conversation between them she resumed her seat,
and attempted to interpret for us; but her new situation seemed
to overpower her, and she was frequently interrupted by her tears.
After the council was finished, the unfortunate woman learned
that all her family were dead except two brothers, one of whom
was absent, and a son of her eldest sister, a small boy,
who was immediately adopted by her."
The two parties, Indian and white, now went into a conference,
the white chiefs explaining that it would be needful for their Indian
friends to collect all their horses and help to transport the goods
of the explorers over the Great Divide. The journal says:--
"The speech made a favorable impression. The chief, in reply,
thanked us for our expressions of friendship toward himself and his nation,
and declared their willingness to render us every service. He lamented
that it would be so long before they should be supplied with firearms,
but that till then they could subsist as they had heretofore done.
He concluded by saying that there were not horses enough here
to transport our goods, but that he would return to the village
to-morrow, bring all his own horses, and encourage his people to come
over with theirs. The conference being ended to our satisfaction,
we now inquired of Cameahwait what chiefs were among the party,
and he pointed out two of them. We then distributed our presents:
to Cameahwait we gave a medal of small size, with the likeness
of President Jefferson, and on the reverse a figure of hands clasped
with a pipe and tomahawk; to this was added an uniform coat,
a shirt, a pair of scarlet leggings, a carrot [or twist] of tobacco,
and some small articles. Each of the other chiefs received
a small medal struck during the presidency of General Washington,
a shirt, handkerchief, leggings, knife, and some tobacco.
Medals of the same sort were also presented to two young warriors,
who, though not chiefs, were promising youths and very much respected
in the tribe. These honorary gifts were followed by presents
of paint, moccasins, awls, knives, beads, and looking-glasses.
We also gave them all a plentiful meal of Indian corn, of which
the hull is taken off by being boiled in lye; as this was the first
they had ever tasted, they were very much pleased with it.
They had, indeed, abundant sources of surprise in all they saw--
the appearance of the men, their arms, their clothing, the canoes,
the strange looks of the negro, and the sagacity of our dog,
all in turn shared their admiration, which was raised to astonishment
by a shot from the air-gun. This operation was instantly considered
`great medicine,' by which they, as well as the other Indians,
mean something emanating directly from the Great Spirit, or produced
by his invisible and incomprehensible agency. . . .
"After the council was over we consulted as to our future operations.
The game did not promise to last here for many days; and this circumstance
combined with many others to induce our going on as soon as possible.
Our Indian information as to the state of the Columbia was of a very alarming
kind; and our first object was, of course, to ascertain the practicability
of descending it, of which the Indians discouraged our expectations.
It was therefore agreed that Captain Clark should set off in the morning
with eleven men, furnished, besides their arms, with tools for making canoes:
that he should take Chaboneau and his wife to the camp of the Shoshonees,
where he was to leave them, in order to hasten the collection of horses;
that he should then lead his men down to the Columbia, and if be found
it navigable, and the timber in sufficient quantity, begin to build canoes.
As soon as he had decided as to the propriety of proceeding down the Columbia
or across the mountains, be was to send back one of the men with information
of it to Captain Lewis, who by that time would have brought up the whole
party, and the rest of the baggage, as far as the Shoshonee village.
Preparations were accordingly made at once to carry out the arrangement.
. . . . . . . . .
"In order to relieve the men of Captain Clark's party
from the heavy weight of their arms, provisions, and tools,
we exposed a few articles to barter for horses, and soon
obtained three very good ones, in exchange for which we gave
a uniform coat, a pair of leggings, a few handkerchiefs,
three knives, and some other small articles, the whole of which
did not, in the United States, cost more than twenty dollars;
a fourth was purchased by the men for an old checkered shirt,
a pair of old leggings, and a knife. The Indians seemed to be
quite as well pleased as ourselves at the bargain they had made.
We now found that the two inferior chiefs were somewhat displeased
at not having received a present equal to that given to the
great chief, who appeared in a dress so much finer than their own.
To allay their discontent, we bestowed on them two old coats,
and promised them if they were active in assisting us across
the mountains they should have an additional present.
This treatment completely reconciled them, and the whole
Indian party, except two men and two women, set out in perfect
good humor to return to their home with Captain Clark."
Across the Great Divide
Captain Clark had now left the water-shed of the Missouri behind him,
and was pressing on, over a broken, hilly country, to the lands
from which issue the tributaries of the Columbia. The Indian village
which Captain Lewis had previously visited had been removed two miles up
the stream on which it was situated, and was reached by Clark on August 20.
The party was very ceremoniously received by Chief Cameahwait, and all hands
began to explain to the white men the difficulties of the situation.
How to transport the canoes and baggage over the mountains to some
navigable stream leading into the Columbia was now the serious problem.
The Indian chief and his old men dwelt on the obstacles in the way
and argued that it was too late in the season to make the attempt.
They even urged the white men to stay with them until another spring,
when Indian guides would be furnished them to proceed on
their journey westward.
On the twenty-first, Clark passed the junction of two streams, the Salmon
and the Lemhi, which is now the site of Salmon City, Idaho. As Captain Lewis
was the first white man who had seen these waters, Clark gave to the combined
water-course the name of Lewis' River. The mountains here assumed
a formidable aspect, and the stream was too narrow, rapid, and rock-bound
to admit of navigation. The journal says of Captain Clark:--
He soon began to perceive that the Indian accounts had not
been exaggerated. At the distance of a mile he passed a small creek
[on the right], and the points of four mountains, which were rocky,
and so high that it seemed almost impossible to cross them with horses.
The road lay over the sharp fragments of rocks which had fallen
from the mountains, and were strewed in heaps for miles together;
yet the horses, altogether unshod, travelled across them as fast
as the men, without detaining them a moment. They passed two
bold running streams, and reached the entrance of a small river,
where a few Indian families resided, who had not been previously
acquainted with the arrival of the whites; the guide was behind,
and the woods were so thick that we came upon them unobserved,
till at a very short distance. As soon as they saw us the women
and children fled in great consternation; the men offered us
everything they had--the fish on the scaffolds, the dried berries,
and the collars of elks' tushes worn by the children.
We took only a small quantity of the food, and gave them in return
some small articles which conduced very much to pacify them.
The guide now coming up, explained to them who we were and
the object of our visit, which seemed to relieve their fears;
still a number of the women and children did not recover from
their fright, but cried during our stay, which lasted about an hour.
The guide, whom we found a very intelligent, friendly old man,
informed us that up this river there was a road which led over
the mountains to the Missouri."
To add to their difficulties, game had almost entirely disappeared,
and the abundant fish in the river could not be caught for lack
of proper fishing-tackle. Timber from which canoes could be made,
there was none, and the rapids in the rivers were sharp and violent.
With his Indian guide and three men, Captain Clark now pressed on his route
of survey, leaving the remainder of his men behind to hunt and fish.
He went down the Salmon River about fifty-two miles, making his way
as best he could along its banks. Finding the way absolutely blocked
for their purposes, Captain Clark returned on the twenty-fifth of August
and rejoined the party that he had left behind. These had not been able
to kill anything, and for a time starvation stared them in the face.
Under date of August 27, the journal says:--
"The men, who were engaged last night in mending their moccasins,
all except one, went out hunting, but no game was to be procured.
One of the men, however, killed a small salmon, and the Indians made
a present of another, on which the whole party made a very slight breakfast.
These Indians, to whom this life is familiar, seem contented, although they
depend for subsistence on the scanty productions of the fishery.
But our men, who are used to hardships, but have been accustomed to
have the first wants of nature regularly supplied, feel very sensibly
their wretched situation; their strength is wasting away; they begin
to express their apprehensions of being without food in a country
perfectly destitute of any means of supporting life, except a few fish.
In the course of the day an Indian brought into the camp five salmon,
two of which Captain Clark bought and made a supper for the party."
Two days later, Captain Clark and his men joined the main party, having met
the only repulse that was suffered by the expedition from first to last.
Eluding the vigilance of the Indians, caches, or hiding-places, for
the baggage were constructed, filled, and concealed, the work being done
after dark. The weather was now very cold, although August had not passed.
Ink froze in the pen during the night, and the meadows were white with frost;
but the days were warm, even hot.
In the absence of Captain Clark, his colleague and party had been visited
by Cameahwait and about fifty of his band, with their women and children.
Captain Lewis' journal says:--
"After they had camped near us and turned loose their horses,
we called a council of all the chiefs and warriors,
and addressed them in a speech. Additional presents were
then distributed, particularly to the two second chiefs, who had,
agreeably to their promises, exerted themselves in our favor.
The council was then adjourned, and all the Indians were
treated with an abundant meal of boiled Indian corn and beans.
The poor wretches, who had no animal food and scarcely anything
but a few fish, had been almost starved, and received this new
luxury with great thankfulness. Out of compliment to the chief,
we gave him a few dried squashes, which we had brought from
the Mandans, and he declared it was the best food he had ever
tasted except sugar, a small lump of which he had received from
his sister Sacajawea. He now declared how happy they should
all be to live in a country which produced so many good things;
and we told him that it would not be long before the white
men would put it in their power to live below the mountains,
where they might themselves cultivate all these kinds of food,
instead of wandering in the mountains. He appeared to be much pleased
with this information, and the whole party being now in excellent
temper after their repast, we began our purchase of horses.
We soon obtained five very good ones, on very reasonable terms--
that is, by giving for each horse merchandise which cost us
originally about $6. We have again to admire the perfect
decency and propriety of the Indians; for though so numerous,
they do not attempt to crowd round our camp or take anything
which they see lying about, and whenever they borrow knives
or kettles or any other article from the men, they return them
with great fidelity."
Captain Lewis anxiously wished to push on to meet Clark, who, as we have seen,
was then far down on the Salmon River. Lewis was still at the forks
of Jefferson River, it should be borne in mind; and their objective point
was the upper Shoshonee village on the Lemhi River, across the divide.
While on the way over the divide, Lewis was greatly troubled by the freaks
of the Indians, who, regardless of their promises, would propose
to return to the buffalo country on the eastern side of the mountains.
Learning that Cameahwait and his chiefs had sent a messenger over to the
Lemhi to notify the village to come and join an expedition of this sort,
Captain Lewis was dismayed. His journal says:--
"Alarmed at this new caprice of the Indians, which, if not counteracted,
threatened to leave ourselves and our baggage on the mountains, or even if we
reached the waters of the Columbia, to prevent our obtaining horses to go
on further, Captain Lewis immediately called the three chiefs together.
After smoking a pipe he asked them if they were men of their word, and if we
could rely on their promises. They readily answered in the affirmative.
He then asked if they had not agreed to assist us in carrying our baggage over
the mountains. To this they also answered yes. `Why, then,' said he, `have
you requested your people to meet us to-morrow where it will be impossible
for us to trade for horses, as you promised we should? If,' he continued,
`you had not promised to help us in transporting our goods over the mountains,
we should not have attempted it, but have returned down the river;
after which no white men would ever have come into your country. If you
wish the whites to be your friends, to bring you arms, and to protect you
from your enemies, you should never promise what you do not mean to perform.
When I first met you, you doubted what I said, yet you afterward saw that I
told you the truth. How, therefore, can you doubt what I now tell you?
You see that I divide amongst you the meat which my hunters kill, and I
promise to give all who assist us a share of whatever we have to eat.
If, therefore, you intend to keep your promise, send one of the young men
immediately, to order the people to remain at the village till we arrive.'
The two inferior chiefs then said that they had wished to keep their word
and to assist us; that they had not sent for the people, but on the contrary
had disapproved of that measure, which was done wholly by the first chief.
Cameahwait remained silent for some time; at last he said that he knew
he had done wrong, but that, seeing his people all in want of provisions,
he had wished to hasten their departure for the country where their wants
might be supplied. He, however, now declared that, having passed his word,
he would never violate it, and counter-orders were immediately sent
to the village by a young man, to whom we gave a handkerchief in order
to ensure despatch and fidelity. . . .
"This difficulty being now adjusted, our march was resumed with an
unusual degree of alacrity on the part of the Indians. We passed
a spot where, six years ago, the Shoshonees had suffered a very severe
defeat from the Minnetarees; and late in the evening we reached
the upper part of the cove, where the creek enters the mountains.
The part of the cove on the northeast side of the creek has
lately been burned, most probably as a signal on some occasion.
Here we were joined by our hunters with a single deer,
which Captain Lewis gave, as a proof of his sincerity,
to the women and children, and remained supperless himself.
As we came along we observed several large hares, some ducks,
and many of the cock of the plains: in the low grounds of the cove
were also considerable quantities of wild onions."
Arriving at the Shoshonee village on the Lemhi, Captain Lewis
found a note from Captain Clark, sent back by a runner,
informing him of the difficulty and impossibility of a water
route to the Columbia. Cameahwait, being told that his white
friends would now need twenty more horses, said that he would
do what he could to help them. The journal here adds:--
"In order not to lose the present favorable moment, and to keep the Indians
as cheerful as possible, the violins were brought out and our men danced,
to the great diversion of the Indians. This mirth was the more welcome
because our situation was not precisely that which would most dispose us
to gayety; for we have only a little parched corn to eat, and our means
of subsistence or of success depend on the wavering temper of the natives,
who may change their minds to-morrow. . . .
"The Shoshonees are a small tribe of the nation called the Snake Indians,
a vague appellation, which embraces at once the inhabitants of the southern
parts of the Rocky Mountains and of the plains on either side.
The Shoshonees with whom we now were amount to about one hundred warriors,
and three times that number of women and children. Within their own
recollection they formerly lived in the plains, but they have been
driven into the mountains by the Pahkees, or the roving Indians of
the Sascatchawan, and are now obliged to visit occasionally, and by stealth,
the country of their ancestors. Their lives, indeed, are migratory.
From the middle of May to the beginning of September they reside on
the headwaters of the Columbia, where they consider themselves perfectly
secure from the Pahkees, who have never yet found their way to that retreat.
During this time they subsist chiefly on salmon, and, as that fish disappears
on the approach of autumn, they are driven to seek subsistence elsewhere.
They then cross the ridge to the waters of the Missouri, down which they
proceed slowly and cautiously, till they are joined near the Three Forks
by other bands, either of their own nation or of the Flatheads, with whom
they associate against the common enemy. Being now strong in numbers,
they venture to hunt the buffalo in the plains eastward of the mountains,
near which they spend the winter, till the return of the salmon invites them
to the Columbia. But such is their terror of the Pahkees, that, so long
as they can obtain the scantiest subsistence, they do not leave the interior
of the mountains; and, as soon as they have collected a large stock
of dried meat, they again retreat, thus alternately obtaining their food
at the hazard of their lives, and hiding themselves to consume it.
"In this loose and wandering life they suffer the extremes of want;
for two thirds of the year they are forced to live in the mountains,
passing whole weeks without meat, and with nothing to eat but a few
fish and roots. Nor can anything be imagined more wretched than their
condition at the present time, when the salmon is fast retiring,
when roots are becoming scarce, and they have not yet acquired strength
to hazard an encounter with their enemies. So insensible are they,
however, to these calamities, that the Shoshonees are not only cheerful,
but even gay; and their character, which is more interesting than that of
any Indians we have seen, has in it much of the dignity of misfortune.
In their intercourse with strangers they are frank and communicative;
in their dealings they are perfectly fair; nor have we, during our stay
with them, had any reason to suspect that the display of all our new
and valuable wealth has tempted them into a single act of dishonesty.
While they have generally shared with us the little they possess,
they have always abstained from begging anything from us.
With their liveliness of temper, they are fond of gaudy dresses and all
sorts of amusements, particularly games of hazard; and, like most Indians,
delight in boasting of their warlike exploits, either real or fictitious.
In their conduct towards us they have been kind and obliging;
and though on one occasion they seemed willing to neglect us, yet we
scarcely knew how to blame the treatment by which we were to suffer,
when we recollected how few civilized chiefs would have hazarded the comforts
or the subsistence of their people for the sake of a few strangers.
. . . . . . . . .
"As war is the chief occupation, bravery is the first virtue
among the Shoshonees. None can hope to be distinguished without
having given proofs of it, nor can there be any preferment
or influence among the nation, without some warlike achievement.
Those important events which give reputation to a warrior,
and entitle him to a new name, are: killing a white [or
grizzly] bear, stealing individually the horses of the enemy,
leading a party who happen to be successful either in plundering
horses or destroying the enemy, and lastly, scalping a warrior.
These acts seem of nearly equal dignity, but the last,
that of taking an enemy's scalp, is an honor quite independent
of the act of vanquishing him. To kill your adversary is of no
importance unless the scalp is brought from the field of battle;
were a warrior to slay any number of his enemies in action,
and others were to obtain the scalps or first touch the dead,
they would have all the honors, since they have borne off the trophy.
. . . . . . . . .
"The names of these Indians vary in the course of their life.
Originally given in childhood, from the mere necessity of distinguishing
objects, or from some accidental resemblance to external objects,
the young warrior is impatient to change it by some achievement of his own.
Any important event--the stealing of horses, the scalping of an enemy,
or the killing of a brown bear--entitles him at once to a new name,
which he then selects for himself, and it is confirmed by the nation.
Sometimes the two names subsist together; thus, the chief Cameahwait,
which means `One Who Never Walks,' has the war-name of Tooettecone,
or `Black Gun,' which he acquired when he first signalized himself.
As each new action gives a warrior a right to change his name,
many of them have several in the course of their lives. To give
to a friend one's own name is an act of high courtesy, and a pledge,
like that of pulling off the moccasin, of sincerity and hospitality.
The chief in this way gave his name to Captain Clark when he first arrived,
and he was afterward known among the Shoshonees by the name of Cameahwait."
On the thirtieth of August, the whole expedition being now reunited,
and a sufficient number of horses having been purchased of
the Shoshonees, the final start across the mountains was begun.
The journal says:
"The greater part of the band, who had delayed their journey
on our account, were also ready to depart. We took leave
of the Shoshonees, who set out on their visit to the Missouri at
the same time that we, accompanied by the old guide, his four sons,
and another Indian, began the descent of the Lemhi River,
along the same road which Captain Clark had previously pursued.
After riding twelve miles we camped on the south bank of this river,
and as the hunters had brought in three deer early in the morning,
we did not feel the want of provisions."
Three days later, all the Indians, except the old guide, left them.
They now passed up Fish Creek, and finding no track leading over
the mountains they cut their way. Their journal says:--
"This we effected with much difficulty; the thickets of trees and brush
through which we were obliged to cut our way required great labor;
the road itself was over the steep and rocky sides of the hills,
where the horses could not move without danger of slipping down,
while their feet were bruised by the rocks and stumps of trees.
Accustomed as these animals were to this kind of life,
they suffered severely; several of them fell to some distance
down the sides of the hills, some turned over with the baggage,
one was crippled, and two gave out, exhausted with fatigue.
After crossing the creek several times we at last made five miles,
with great fatigue and labor, and camped on the left side of the creek
in a small stony low ground. It was not, however, till after
dark that the whole party was collected; and then, as it rained
and we had killed nothing, we passed an uncomfortable night.
The party had been too busily occupied with the horses to make
any hunting excursion; and though, as we came along Fish Creek,
we saw many beaver-dams, we saw none of the animals themselves."
The Indian guide appears here to have lost his way;
but, not dismayed, he pushed on through a trackless wilderness,
sometimes travelling on the snow that now covered the mountains.
On the fourth of September, the party came upon a large
encampment of Indians, who received them with much ceremony.
The journal says:--
"September 5, we assembled the chiefs and warriors, and informed them
who we were, and the purpose for which we had visited their country.
All this was, however, conveyed to them through so many different languages,
that it was not comprehended without difficulty. We therefore
proceeded to the more intelligible language of presents, and made four
chiefs by giving a medal and a small quantity of tobacco to each.
We received in turn from the principal chief a present consisting
of the skins of a blaireau (badger), an otter, and two antelopes,
and were treated by the women to some dried roots and berries.
We then began to traffic for horses, and succeeded in exchanging seven
and purchasing eleven, for which we gave a few articles of merchandise.
"This encampment consists of thirty-three tents, in which
were about four hundred souls, among whom eighty were men.
They are called Ootlashoots, and represent themselves as one band
of a nation called Tushepaws, a numerous people of four hundred
and fifty tents, residing on the head-waters of the Missouri
and Columbia rivers, and some of them lower down the latter river.
In person these Indians are stout, and their complexion lighter
than that common among Indians. The hair of the men is worn
in queues of otter skin, falling in front over the shoulders.
A shirt of dressed skin covers the body to the knee, and over this is
worn occasionally a robe. To these are added leggings and moccasins.
The women suffer their hair to fall in disorder over the face
and shoulders, and their chief article of covering is a long shirt
of skin, reaching down to the ankles, and tied round the waist.
In other respects, as also in the few ornaments which they possess,
their appearance is similar to that of the Shoshonees:
there is, however, a difference between the languages of these
two people, which is still farther increased by the very extraordinary
pronunciation of the Ootlashoots. Their words have all a remarkably
guttural sound, and there is nothing which seems to represent
the tone of their speaking more exactly than the clucking of a fowl
or the noise of a parrot. This peculiarity renders their voices
scarcely audible, except at a short distance; and, when many
of them are talking, forms a strange confusion of sounds.
The common conversation that we overheard consisted of low,
guttural sounds, occasionally broken by a low word or two,
after which it would relapse, and could scarcely be distinguished.
They seemed kind and friendly, and willingly shared with us
berries and roots, which formed their sole stock of provisions.
Their only wealth is their horses, which are very fine, and so
numerous that this party had with them at least five hundred."
These Indians were on their way to join the other bands who were hunting
buffalo on the Jefferson River, across the Great Divide. They set
out the next morning, and the explorers resumed their toilsome journey,
travelling generally in a northwesterly direction and looking for a
pass across the Bitter Root Mountains. Very soon, all indications
of game disappeared, and, September 14, they were forced to kill a colt,
their stock of animal food being exhausted. They pressed on, however,
through a savage wilderness, having frequent need to recur to horse-flesh.
Here is an entry under date of September 18, in the journal:
"We melted some snow, and supped on a little portable soup, a few
canisters of which, with about twenty pounds' weight of bear's oil,
are our only remaining means of subsistence. Our guns are scarcely
of any service, for there is no living creature in these mountains,
except a few small pheasants, a small species of gray squirrel, and a blue
bird of the vulture kind, about the size of a turtle-dove, or jay.
Even these are difficult to shoot."
"A bold running creek," up which Captain Clark passed on
September 19, was appropriately named by him "Hungry Creek,"
as at that place they had nothing to eat. But, at about six miles'
distance from the head of the stream, "he fortunately found
a horse, on which he breakfasted, and hung the rest on a tree
for the party in the rear." This was one of the wild horses,
strayed from Indian bands, which they found in the wilderness,
too wild to be caught and used, but not too wild to shoot and eat.
Later, on the same day, this entry is made in the journal:
"The road along the creek is a narrow rocky path near the borders of very
high precipices, from which a fall seems almost inevitable destruction.
One of our horses slipped and rolled over with his load down the hillside,
which was nearly perpendicular and strewed with large irregular rocks,
nearly one hundred yards, and did not stop till he fell into the creek.
We all expected he was killed, but to our astonishment, on taking
off his load he rose, seemed but little injured, and in twenty
minutes proceeded with his load. Having no other provision,
we took some portable soup, our only refreshment during the day.
This abstinence, joined with fatigue, has a visible effect on our health.
The men are growing weak and losing their flesh very fast; several are
afflicted with dysentery, and eruptions of the skin are very common."
Next day, the party descended the last of the Bitter Root range and reached
level country. They were at last over the Great Divide. Three Indian boys
were discovered hiding in the grass, in great alarm. Captain Clark at once
dismounted from his horse, and, making signs of amity, went after the boys.
He calmed their terrors, and, giving them some bits of ribbon, sent them home.
"Soon after the boys reached home, a man came out to meet the party,
with great caution; but he conducted them to a large tent
in the village, and all the inhabitants gathered round to view
with a mixture of fear and pleasure these wonderful strangers.
The conductor now informed Captain Clark, by signs,
that the spacious tent was the residence of the great chief,
who had set out three days ago with all the warriors to attack
some of their enemies toward the southwest; that he would not
return before fifteen or eighteen days, and that in the mean time
there were only a few men left to guard the women and children.
They now set before them a small piece of buffalo-meat,
some dried salmon, berries, and several kinds of roots.
Among these last is one which is round, much like an onion
in appearance, and sweet to the taste. It is called quamash,
and is eaten either in its natural state, or boiled into a kind
of soup, or made into a cake, which is then called pasheco.
After the long abstinence this was a sumptuous treat.
They returned the kindness of the people by a few small presents,
and then went on in company with one of the chiefs to a second
village in the same plain, at the distance of two miles.
Here the party were treated with great kindness, and passed the night.
The hunters were sent out, but, though they saw some tracks
of deer, were not able to procure anything."
The root which the Indians used in so many ways is now known as camas;
it is still much sought for by the Nez Perces and other wandering tribes
in the Northwest, and Camas Prairie, in that region, derives its name
from the much-sought-for vegetable.
Captain Clark and his men stayed with these hospitable Indians
several days. The free use of wholesome food, to which he had not
lately been accustomed, made Clark very ill, and he contented himself
with staying in the Indian villages, of which. there were two.
These Indians called themselves Chopunnish, or Pierced Noses;
this latter name is now more commonly rendered Nez Perces, the French
voyageurs having given it that translation into their own tongue.
But these people, so far as known, did not pierce their noses.
After sending a man back on the trail to notify Captain Lewis
of his progress, Captain Clark went on to the village
of Chief Twisted-hair. Most of the women and children,
though notified of the coming of the white man, were so scared
by the appearance of the strangers that they fled to the woods.
The men, however, received them without fear and gave them a plentiful
supply of food. They were now on one of the upper branches
of the Kooskooskee River, near what is the site of Pierce City,
county seat of Shoshonee County, Idaho. The Indians endeavored,
by means of signs, to explain to their visitors the geography
of the country beyond.
"Among others, Twisted-hair drew a chart of the river on
a white elk-skin. According to this, the Kooskooskee forks
[confluence of its North fork] a few miles from this place;
two days toward the south is another and larger fork [confluence
of Snake River], on which the Shoshonee or Snake Indians fish;
five days' journey further is a large river from the northwest
[that is, the Columbia itself] into which Clark's River empties;
from the mouth of that river [that is, confluence of the Snake
with the Columbia] to the falls is five days' journey further;
on all the forks as well as on the main river great numbers
of Indians reside."
On the twenty-third of September, Captain Lewis and his party having
come up, the white men assembled the Indians and explained to them
where they came from and what was their errand across the continent.
The Indians appeared to be entirely satisfied, and they sold their
visitors as much provisions as their half-famished horses could carry.
The journal here says:--
"All around the village the women are busily employed in gathering
and dressing the pasheco-root, of which large quantities
are heaped in piles over the plain. We now felt severely
the consequence of eating heartily after our late privations.
Captain Lewis and two of the men were taken very ill last evening;
to-day he could hardly sit on his horse, while others were obliged
to be put on horseback, and some, from extreme weakness and pain,
were forced to lie down alongside of the road for some time.
At sunset we reached the island where the hunters had been
left on the 22d. They had been unsuccessful, having killed
only two deer since that time, and two of them were very sick.
A little below this island is a larger one on which we camped,
and administered Rush's pills to the sick."
The illness of the party continued for several days, and not much
progress was made down-stream. Having camped, on the twenty-seventh
of September, in the Kooskooskee River, at a place where plenty of good
timber was found, preparations for building five canoes were begun.
From this time to the fifth of October, all the men capable of labor
were employed in preparing the canoes. The health of the party
gradually recruited, though they still suffered severely from want
of food; and, as the hunters had but little success in procuring game,
they were obliged on the second to kill one of their horses.
Indians from different quarters frequently visited them, but all that
could be obtained from them was a little fish and some dried roots.
This diet was not only unnutritious, but in many cases it caused
dysentery and nausea.
Down the Pacific Slope
The early days of October were spent in making preparations for the
descent of the river,--the Kooskooskee. Here they made their canoes,
and they called their stopping-place Canoe Camp. This was at
the junction of the north fork of the river with the main stream;
and all below that point is called the Lower Kooskooskee, while that
above is known as the upper river. The latitude of the camp,
according to the journal of the explorers, was 46'0 34' 56" north.
Here they buried in a cache their saddles, horse-gear, and a small
supply of powder and musket balls for possible emergencies.
The Kooskooskee, it should be borne in mind, is now better known
as the Clearwater; it empties into the Snake River, and that into
the Columbia. As far as the explorers knew the water-course down
which they were to navigate, they called it Clark's River, in honor
of Captain Clark. But modern geographers have displaced the name
of that eminent explorer and map-maker and have divided the stream,
or streams, with other nomenclature.
On the eighth of October the party set out on their long water
journey in five canoes, one of which was a small craft intended
to go on ahead and pilot the way (which, of course, was unknown)
for the four larger ones, in which travelled the main party
with their luggage. They met with disaster very soon after
their start, one of the canoes having struck a rock, which made
a hole in its side and caused the sinking of the craft.
Fortunately, no lives were lost, but the voyage was interrupted.
The party went ashore and did not resume their journey
until their luggage was dried and the canoe repaired.
On the ninth, says the journal:--
"The morning was as usual cool; but as the weather both yesterday
and to-day was cloudy, our merchandise dried but slowly.
The boat, though much injured, was repaired by ten o'clock so as to
be perfectly fit for service; but we were obliged to remain during
the day till the articles were sufficiently dry to be reloaded.
The interval we employed in purchasing fish for the voyage,
and conversing with the Indians. In the afternoon we were surprised
at hearing that our old Shoshonee guide and his son had left us
and had been seen running up the river several miles above.
As he had never given any notice of his intention, nor had even
received his pay for guiding us, we could not imagine the cause
of his desertion; nor did he ever return to explain his conduct.
We requested the chief to send a horseman after him to
request that he would return and receive what we owed him.
From this, however, he dissuaded us, and said very frankly
that his nation, the Chopunnish, would take from the old
man any presents that he might have on passing their camp.
The Indians came about our camp at night, and were very gay and
good-humored with the men. Among other exhibitions was that of a squaw
who appeared to be crazy. She sang in a wild, incoherent manner,
and offered to the spectators all the little articles she possessed,
scarifying herself in a horrid manner if anyone refused her present.
She seemed to be an object of pity among the Indians, who suffered
her to do as she pleased without interruption."
The river was full of rapids and very dangerous rocks and reefs,
and the voyagers were able to make only twenty miles a day for some
distance along the stream. At the confluence of the Kooskooskee
and the Snake River they camped for the night, near the present
site of Lewiston, Idaho. This city, first settled in May, 1861,
and incorporated in 1863, was named for Captain Lewis of our expedition.
From this point the party crossed over into the present State
of Washington. Of their experience at their camp here the journal says:--
"Our arrival soon attracted the attention of the Indians,
who flocked in all directions to see us. In the evening the Indian
from the falls, whom we had seen at Rugged rapid, joined us with his
son in a small canoe, and insisted on accompanying us to the falls.
Being again reduced to fish and roots, we made an experiment
to vary our food by purchasing a few dogs, and after having been
accustomed to horse-flesh, felt no disrelish for this new dish.
The Chopunnish have great numbers of dogs, which they employ
for domestic purposes, but never eat; and our using the flesh
of that animal soon brought us into ridicule as dog-eaters."
When Fremont and his men crossed the continent to California,
in 1842, they ate the flesh of that species of marmot which we
know as the prairie-dog. Long afterwards, when Fremont was
a candidate for the office of President of the United States,
this fact was recalled to the minds of men, and the famous
explorer was denounced as "a dog-eater."
The journal of the explorers gives this interesting account of the Indians
among whom they now found themselves:--
"The Chopunnish or Pierced-nose nation, who reside on the Kooskooskee
and Lewis' [Snake] rivers, are in person stout, portly, well-looking men;
the women are small, with good features and generally handsome, though the
complexion of both sexes is darker than that of the Tushepaws. In dress
they resemble that nation, being fond of displaying their ornaments.
The buffalo or elk-skin robe decorated with beads; sea-shells, chiefly
mother-of-pearl, attached to an otter-skin collar and hung in the hair,
which falls in front in two cues; feathers, paints of different kinds,
principally white, green, and light blue, all of which they find
in their own country; these are the chief ornaments they use.
In the winter they wear a short skirt of dressed skins, long painted
leggings and moccasins, and a plait of twisted grass round the neck.
The dress of the women is more simple, consisting of a long shirt
of argalia [argali] or ibex [bighorn] skin, reaching down to the ankles,
without a girdle; to this are tied little pieces of brass, shells,
and other small articles; but the head is not at all ornamented.
"The Chopunnish have very few amusements, for their life is painful
and laborious; all their exertions are necessary to earn even their
precarious subsistence. During the summer and autumn they are busily
occupied in fishing for salmon and collecting their winter store of roots.
In winter they hunt the deer on snow-shoes over the plains, and toward
spring cross the mountains to the Missouri for the purpose of rafficking
for buffalo-robe. The inconveniences of their comfortless life are
increased by frequent encounters with their enemies from the west,
who drive them over the mountains with the loss of their horses,
and sometimes the lives of many of the nation."
After making a short stage on their journey, October 11, the party
stopped to trade with the Indians, their stock of provisions being low.
They were able to purchase a quantity of salmon and seven dogs.
They saw here a novel kind of vapor bath which is thus described
in the journal:--
"While this traffic was going on we observed a vapor bath or sweating-house,
in a different form from that used on the frontier of the United States
or in the Rocky Mountains. It was a hollow square six or eight
feet deep, formed in the river bank by damming up with mud the other
three sides and covering the whole completely, except an aperture
about two feet wide at the top. The bathers descend by this hole,
taking with them a number of heated stones and jugs of water;
after being seated round the room they throw the water on the stones till
the steam becomes of a temperature sufficiently high for their purposes.
The baths of the Indians in the Rocky Mountains are of different sizes,
the most common being made of mud and sticks like an oven, but the mode
of raising the steam is exactly the same. Among both these nations it is
very uncommon for a man to bathe alone; he is generally accompanied by one
or sometimes several of his acquaintances; indeed, it is so essentially
a social amusement, that to decline going in to bathe when invited by a
friend is one of the highest indignities which can be offered to him.
The Indians on the frontier generally use a bath which will accommodate
only one person, formed of a wicker-work of willows about four feet high,
arched at the top, and covered with skins. In this the patient sits,
till by means of the heated stones and water he has perspired sufficiently.
Almost universally these baths are in the neighborhood of running water,
into which the Indians plunge immediately on coming out of the vapor bath,
and sometimes return again and subject themselves to a second perspiration.
This practice is, however, less frequent among our neighboring nations
than those to the westward. This bath is employed either for pleasure
or for health, and is used indiscriminately for all kinds of diseases."
The expedition was now on the Snake River, making all possible speed toward
the Columbia, commonly known to the Indians as "The Great River." The stream
was crowded with dangerous rapids, and sundry disasters were met with
by the way; thus, on the fourteenth of October, a high wind blowing,
one of the canoes was driven upon a rock sidewise and filled with water.
The men on board got out and dragged the canoe upon the rock, where they held
her above water. Another canoe, having been unloaded, was sent to the relief
of the shipwrecked men, who, after being left on the rock for some time,
were taken off without any other loss than the bedding of two of them.
But accidents like this delayed the party, as they were forced to land
and remain long enough to dry the goods that had been exposed to the water.
Several such incidents are told in the journal of the explorers.
Few Indians were to be seen along the banks of the river, but occasionally
the party came to a pile of planks and timbers which were the materials
from which were built the houses of such Indians as came here in the fishing
season to catch a supply for the winter and for trading purposes.
Occasionally, the complete scarcity of fuel compelled the explorers
to depart from their general rule to avoid taking any Indian property
without leave; and they used some of these house materials for firewood,
with the intent to pay the rightful owners, if they should ever be found.
On the sixteenth of October, they met with a party of Indians, of whom
the journal gives this account:--
"After crossing by land we halted for dinner, and whilst we
were eating were visited by five Indians, who came up the river
on foot in great haste. We received them kindly, smoked with them,
and gave them a piece of tobacco to smoke with their tribe.
On receiving the present they set out to return, and continued
running as fast as they could while they remained in sight.
Their curiosity had been excited by the accounts of our
two chiefs, who had gone on in order to apprise the tribes
of our approach and of our friendly disposition toward them.
After dinner we reloaded the canoes and proceeded.
We soon passed a rapid opposite the upper point of a sandy
island on the left, which has a smaller island near it.
At three miles is a gravelly bar in the river; four miles
beyond this the Kimooenim [Snake] empties into the Columbia,
and at its mouth has an island just below a small rapid.
"We halted above the point of junction, on the Kimooenim, to confer
with the Indians, who had collected in great numbers to receive us.
On landing we were met by our two chiefs, to whose good offices we
were indebted for this reception, and also the two Indians who had
passed us a few days since on horseback; one of whom appeared
to be a man of influence, and harangued the Indians on our arrival.
After smoking with the Indians, we formed a camp at the point
where the two rivers unite, near to which we found some driftwood,
and were supplied by our two old chiefs with the stalks of willows
and some small bushes for fuel.
"We had scarcely fixed the camp and got the fires prepared,
when a chief came from the Indian camp about a quarter of a mile
up the Columbia, at the head of nearly two hundred men.
They formed a regular procession, keeping time to the music,
or, rather, noise of their drums, which they accompanied
with their voices; and as they advanced, they ranged themselves
in a semicircle around us, and continued singing for some time.
We then smoked with them all, and communicated, as well as we
could by signs, our friendly intentions towards every nation,
and our joy at finding ourselves surrounded by our children.
After this we proceeded to distribute presents among them,
giving the principal chief a large medal, a shirt, and a handkerchief;
to the second chief, a medal of a smaller size; and to a third,
who had come down from some of the upper villages, a small
medal and a handkerchief. This ceremony being concluded,
they left us; but in the course of the afternoon several
of them returned, and remained with us till a late hour.
After they had dispersed, we proceeded to purchase provisions,
and were enabled to collect seven dogs, to which some of the Indians
added small presents of fish, and one of them gave us twenty
pounds of fat dried horse-flesh."
The explorers were still in the country which is now the State of Washington,
at a point where the counties of Franklin, Yakima, and Walla Walla
come together, at the junction of the Snake and the Columbia. We quote
now from the journal:--
"From the point of junction the country is a continued plain, low near
the water, from which it rises gradually, and the only elevation to be seen
is a range of high country running from northeast to southwest, where it
joins a range of mountains from the southwest, and is on the opposite
side about two miles from the Columbia. There is on this plain no tree,
and scarcely any shrubs, except a few willow-bushes; even of smaller plants
there is not much more than the prickly-pear, which is in great abundance,
and is even more thorny and troublesome than any we have yet seen.
During this time the principal chief came down with several of his warriors,
and smoked with us. We were also visited by several men and women,
who offered dogs and fish for sale; but as the fish was out of season,
and at present abundant in the river, we contented ourselves with purchasing
all the dogs we could obtain.
"The nation among which we now are call themselves Sokulks;
with them are united a few of another nation, who reside on a western
branch which empties into the Columbia a few miles above the mouth
of the latter river, and whose name is Chimnapum. The languages
of these two nations, of each of which we obtained a vocabulary,
differ but little from each other, or from that of the Chopunnish
who inhabit the Kooskooskee and Lewis' rivers. In their dress
and general appearance they also much resemble those nations;
the men wearing a robe of deer- or antelope-skin, under which a few
of them have a short leathern shirt. The most striking difference is
among the females, the Sokulk women being more inclined to corpulency
than any we have yet seen. Their stature is low, their faces are broad,
and their heads flattened in such a manner that the forehead
is in a straight line from the nose to the crown of the head.
Their eyes are of a dirty sable, their hair is coarse and black,
and braided without ornament of any kind. Instead of wearing,
as do the Chopunnish, long leathern shirts highly decorated with beads
and shells, the Sokulk women have no other covering but a truss or piece
of leather tied round the hips, and drawn tight between the legs.
The ornaments usually worn by both sexes are large blue or white beads,
either pendant from their ears, or round the neck, wrists, and arms;
they have likewise bracelets of brass, copper, and born, and some
trinkets of shells, fishbones, and curious feathers.
"The houses of the Sokulks are made of large mats of rushes, and are generally
of a square or oblong form, varying in length from fifteen to sixty feet,
and supported in the inside by poles or forks about six feet high.
The top is covered with mats, leaving a space of twelve or fifteen
inches the whole length of the house, for the purpose of admitting
the light and suffering the smoke to escape. The roof is nearly flat,
which seems to indicate that rains are not common in this open country;
and the house is not divided into apartments, the fire being in the
middle of the enclosure, and immediately under the bole in the roof.
The interior is ornamented with their nets, gigs, and other fishing-tackle,
as well as the bow of each inmate, and a large quiver of arrows,
which are headed with flint.
"The Sokulks seem to be of a mild and peaceable disposition,
and live in a state of comparative happiness. The men,
like those on the Kimooenim, are said to content themselves with a
single wife, with whom the husband, we observe, shares the labors
of procuring subsistence much more than is common among savages.
What may be considered an unequivocal proof of their good disposition,
is the great respect which is shown to old age. Among other marks
of it, we noticed in one of the houses an old woman perfectly blind,
and who, we were told, had lived more than a hundred winters.
In this state of decrepitude, she occupied the best position
in the house, seemed to be treated with great kindness,
and whatever she said was listened to with much attention.
They are by no means obtrusive; and as their fisheries supply them
with a competent, if not an abundant subsistence, although they
receive thankfully whatever we choose to give, they do not
importune us by begging. Fish is, indeed, their chief food,
except roots and casual supplies of antelope, which latter,
to those who have only bows and arrows, must be very scanty.
This diet may be the direct or the remote cause of the chief
disorder which prevails among them, as well as among the Flatheads
on the Kooskooskee and Lewis' rivers. With all these Indians
a bad soreness of the eyes is a very common disorder, which is
suffered to ripen by neglect, till many are deprived of one
of their eyes, and some have totally lost the use of both.
This dreadful calamity may reasonably, we think, be imputed
to the constant reflection of the sun on the waters, where they
are constantly fishing in the spring, summer, and fall,
and during the rest of the year on the snows of a country
which affords no object to relieve the sight.
"Among the Sokulks, indeed among all the tribes whose chief subsistence
is fish, we have observed that bad teeth are very general; some have
the teeth, particularly those of the upper jaw, worn down to the gums,
and many of both sexes, even of middle age, have lost them almost entirely.
This decay of the teeth is a circumstance very unusual among Indians,
either of the mountains or the plains, and seems peculiar to the inhabitants
of the Columbia. We cannot avoid regarding as one principal cause
of it the manner in which they eat their food. The roots are swallowed
as they are dug from the ground, frequently covered with a gritty sand;
so little idea have they that this is offensive that all the roots they
offer us for sale are in the same condition."
The explorers were now at the entrance of the mighty
Columbia,--"The Great River" of which they had heard so much
from the Indians. We might suppose that when they actually
embarked upon the waters of the famous stream, variously known
as "The River of the North" and "The Oregon," the explorers
would be touched with a little of the enthusiasm with which they
straddled the headwaters of the Missouri and gazed upon the
snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains. But no such kindling
of the imagination seems to have been noted in their journal.
In this commonplace way, according to their own account,
Captain Clark entered upon the mighty Columbia:--
"In the course of the day [October 17, 1805], Captain Clark,
in a small canoe with two men, ascended the Columbia. At the distance
of five miles he passed an island in the middle of the river,
at the head of which was a small but not dangerous rapid.
On the left bank, opposite to this island, was a fishing-place
consisting of three mat houses. Here were great quantities of salmon
drying on scaffolds; and, indeed, from the mouth of the river upward,
he saw immense numbers of dead salmon strewed along the shore,
or floating on the surface of the water, which is so clear that
the fish may be seen swimming at the depth of fifteen or twenty feet.
The Indians, who had collected on the banks to observe him,
now joined him in eighteen canoes, and accompanied him up the river.
A mile above the rapids he came to the lower point of an island,
where the course of the stream, which had been from its mouth
north eighty-three degrees west, now became due west.
He proceeded in that direction, until, observing three house's
of mats at a short distance, he landed to visit them.
On entering one of these houses, he found it crowded with men, women,
and children, who immediately provided a mat for him to sit on,
and one of the party undertook to prepare something to eat.
He began by bringing in a piece of pine wood that had drifted down
the river, which he split into small pieces with a wedge made of elkhorn,
by means of a mallet of stone curiously carved. The pieces of wood
were then laid on the fire, and several round stones placed upon them.
One of the squaws now brought a bucket of water, in which was a large
salmon about half dried, and, as the stones became heated, they were
put into the bucket till the salmon was sufficiently boiled for use.
It was then taken out, put on a platter of rushes neatly made, and laid
before Captain Clark, while another was boiled for each of his men.
During these preparations he smoked with such about him as would
accept of tobacco, but very few were desirous of smoking, a custom
which is not general among them, and chiefly used as a matter
of form in great ceremonies.
"After eating the fish, which was of an excellent flavor, Captain Clark
set out and, at the distance of four miles from the last island,
came to the lower point of another near the left shore, where he halted
at two large mat-houses. Here, as at the three houses below,
the inhabitants were occupied in splitting and drying salmon.
The multitudes of this fish are almost inconceivable.
The water is so clear that they can readily be seen at the depth
of fifteen or twenty feet; but at this season they float in such
quantities down the stream, and are drifted ashore, that the Indians
have only to collect, split, and dry them on the scaffolds.
Where they procure the timber of which these scaffolds are composed
he could not learn; but as there is nothing but willow-bushes
to be seen for a great distance from this place, it rendered
very probable what the Indians assured him by signs, that they
often used dried fish as fuel for the common occasions of cooking.
From this island they showed him the entrance of the western branch
of the Columbia, called the Tapteal, which, as far as could be seen,
bears nearly west and empties about eight miles above into the Columbia,
the general course of which is northwest."
The Tapteal, as the journal calls it, is now known as the Yakima, a stream
which has its source in the Cascade range of mountains, Washington. The party
tarried here long enough to secure from the Indians a tolerably correct
description of the river upon which they were about to embark.
One of the chiefs drew upon the skin-side of a buffalo robe a sketch of
the Columbia. And this was transferred to paper and put into the journal.
That volume adds here:--
"Having completed the purposes of our stay, we now began to lay in
our stores. Fish being out of season, we purchased forty dogs, for which we
gave small articles, such as bells, thimbles, knitting-needles, brass wire,
and a few beads, an exchange with which they all seemed perfectly satisfied.
These dogs, with six prairie-cocks killed this morning, formed a plentiful
supply for the present. We here left our guide and the two young men
who had accompanied him, two of the three being unwilling to go any further,
and the third being of no use, as he was not acquainted with the river below.
We therefore took no Indians but our two chiefs, and resumed our journey
in the presence of many of the Sokulks, who came to witness our departure.
The morning was cool and fair, and the wind from the southeast."
They now began again to meet Indians who had never before seen white men.
On the nineteenth, says the journal:--
"The great chief, with two of his inferior chiefs and a third
belonging to a band on the river below, made us a visit at
a very early hour. The first of these was called Yelleppit,--
a handsome, well-proportioned man, about five feet eight inches high,
and thirty-five years of age, with a bold and dignified countenance;
the rest were not distinguished in their appearance.
We smoked with them, and after making a speech, gave a medal,
a handkerchief, and a string of wampum to Yelleppit, but a string
of wampum only to the inferior chiefs. He requested us to remain
till the middle of the day, in order that all his nation
might come and see us; but we excused ourselves by telling him
that on our return we would spend two or three days with him.
This conference detained us till nine o'clock, by which time
great numbers of the Indians had come down to visit us.
On leaving them we went on for eight miles, when we came to an
island near the left shore, which continued six miles in length.
At its lower extremity is a small island on which are
five houses, at present vacant, though the scaffolds of fish
are as usual abundant. A short distance below are two
more islands, one of them near the middle of the river.
On this there were seven houses, but as soon as the Indians,
who were drying fish, saw us, they fled to their houses,
and not one of them appeared till we had passed; when they came
out in greater numbers than is usual for houses of that size,
which induced us to think that the inhabitants of the five lodges
had been alarmed at our approach and taken refuge with them.
We were very desirous of landing in order to relieve
their apprehensions, but as there was a bad rapid along the island
all our care was necessary to prevent injury to the canoes.
At the foot of this rapid is a rock on the left shore,
which is fourteen miles from our camp of last night and resembles
a hat in shape."
Later in the day, Captain Clark ascended a bluff on the river bank,
where he saw "a very high mountain covered with snow." This was
Mount St. Helen's, in Cowlitz County, Washington. The altitude
of the peak is nine thousand seven hundred and fifty feet.
"Having arrived at the lower ends of the rapids below the bluff
before any of the rest of the party, be sat down on a rock
to wait for them, and, seeing a crane fly across the river,
shot it, and it fell near him. Several Indians had been
before this passing on the opposite side towards the rapids,
and some who were then nearly in front of him, being either alarmed
at his appearance or the report of the gun, fled to their houses.
Captain Clark was afraid that these people had not yet heard
that the white men were coming, and therefore, in order to allay
their uneasiness before the rest of the party should arrive, he got
into the small canoe with three men, rowed over towards the houses,
and, while crossing, shot a duck, which fell into the water.
As he approached no person was to be seen except three men
in the plains, and they, too, fled as he came near the shore.
He landed in front of five houses close to each other, but no
one appeared, and the doors, which were of mat, were closed.
He went towards one of them with a pipe in his hand, and,
pushing aside the mat, entered the lodge, where he found
thirty-two persons, chiefly men and women, with a few children,
all in the greatest consternation; some hanging down their heads,
others crying and wringing their hands. He went up to them,
and shook hands with each one in the most friendly manner;
but their apprehensions, which had for a moment subsided,
revived on his taking out a burning-glass, as there was no
roof to the house, and lighting his pipe: he then offered
it to several of the men, and distributed among the women
and children some small trinkets which he had with him,
and gradually restored a degree of tranquillity among them.
"Leaving this house, and directing each of his men to visit a house,
he entered a second. Here he found the inmates more terrified than
those in the first; but he succeeded in pacifying them, and afterward
went into the other houses, where the men had been equally successful.
Retiring from the houses, he seated himself on a rock, and beckoned
to some of the men to come and smoke with him; but none of them
ventured to join him till the canoes arrived with the two chiefs,
who immediately explained our pacific intention towards them.
Soon after the interpreter's wife [Sacajawea] landed, and her
presence dissipated all doubts of our being well-disposed,
since in this country no woman ever accompanies a war party:
they therefore all came out, and seemed perfectly reconciled;
nor could we, indeed, blame them for their terrors, which were
perfectly natural. They told the two chiefs that they knew
we were not men, for they had seen us fall from the clouds.
In fact, unperceived by them, Captain Clark had shot the white crane,
which they had seen fall just before he appeared to their eyes:
the duck which he had killed also fell close by him;
and as there were some clouds flying over at the moment,
they connected the fall of the birds with his sudden appearance,
and believed that he had himself actually dropped from the clouds;
considering the noise of the rifle, which they had never
heard before, the sound announcing so extraordinary an event.
This belief was strengthened, when, on entering the room,
he brought down fire from the heavens by means of his burning-glass.
We soon convinced them, however, that we were merely mortals;
and after one of our chiefs had explained our history and objects,
we all smoked together in great harmony.
Down the Columbia to Tidewater
The voyagers were now drifting down the Columbia River, and they
found the way impeded by many rapids, some of them very dangerous.
But their skill in the handling of their canoes seems to have been
equal to the occasion, although they were sometimes compelled to go
around the more difficult rapids, making a short land portage.
When they had travelled about forty miles down the river, they landed
opposite an island on which were twenty-four houses of Indians;
the people, known as the Pishquitpahs, were engaged in drying fish.
No sooner had the white men landed than the Indians, to the number
of one hundred, came across the stream bringing with them
some firewood, a most welcome present in that treeless country.
The visitors were entertained with presents and a long smoke
at the pipe of peace. So pleased were they with the music of two
violins played by Cruzatte and Gibson, of the exploring party,
that they remained by the fire of the white men all night.
The news of the arrival of the white strangers soon spread,
and next morning about two hundred more of the Indians assembled
to gaze on them. Later in the day, having gotten away from their
numerous inquisitive visitors, the explorers passed down-stream
and landed on a small island to examine a curious vault,
in which were placed the remains of the dead of the tribe.
The journal says:--
"This place, in which the dead are deposited, is a building
about sixty feet long and twelve feet wide, formed by placing
in the ground poles or forks six feet high, across which a
long pole is extended the whole length of the structure;
against this ridge-pole are placed broad boards and pieces
of canoes, in a slanting direction, so as to form a shed.
It stands cast and west, and neither of the extremities is closed.
On entering the western end we observed a number of bodies wrapped
carefully in leather robes, and arranged in rows on boards,
which were then covered with a mat. This was the part destined
for those who had recently died; a little further on, bones half
decayed were scattered about, and in the centre of the building
was a large pile of them heaped promiscuously on each other.
At the eastern extremity was a mat, on which twenty-one skulls
were placed in a circular form; the mode of interment being
first to wrap the body in robes, then as it decays to throw
the bones into the heap, and place the skulls together.
From the different boards and pieces of canoes which form
the vault were suspended, on the inside, fishing-nets, baskets,
wooden bowls, robes, skins, trenchers, and trinkets of various kinds,
obviously intended as offerings of affection to deceased relatives.
On the outside of the vault were the skeletons of several horses,
and great quantities of their bones were in the neighborhood,
which induced us to believe that these animals were most probably
sacrificed at the funeral rites of their masters."
Just below this stand the party met Indians who traded with tribes
living near the great falls of the Columbia. That place they designated
as "Tum-tum," a word that signifies the throbbing of the heart.
One of these Indians had a sailor's jacket, and others had a blue
blanket and a scarlet blanket. These articles had found their way
up the river from white traders on the seashore.
On the twenty-first of October the explorers discovered a considerable
stream which appeared to rise in the southeast and empty into the Columbia
on the left. To this stream they gave the name of Lepage for Bastien Lepage,
one of the voyageurs accompanying the party. The watercourse, however,
is now known as John Day's River. John Day was a mighty hunter and
backwoodsman from Kentucky who went across the continent, six years later,
with a party bound for Astoria, on the Columbia. From the rapids below
the John Day River the Lewis and Clark party caught their first sight
of Mount Hood, a famous peak of the Cascade range of mountains, looming up
in the southwest, eleven thousand two hundred and twenty-five feet high.
Next day they passed the mouth of another river entering the Columbia from
the south and called by the Indians the Towahnahiooks, but known to modern
geography as the Des Chutes, one of the largest southern tributaries of
the Columbia. Five miles below the mouth of this stream the party camped.
Near them was a party of Indians engaged in drying and packing salmon.
Their method of doing this is thus described:--
"The manner of doing this is by first opening the fish and exposing
it to the sun on scaffolds. When it is sufficiently dried it
is pounded between two stones till it is pulverized, and is then
placed in a basket about two feet long and one in diameter,
neatly made of grass and rushes, and lined with the skin of a salmon
stretched and dried for the purpose. Here the fish are pressed
down as hard as possible, and the top is covered with fish-skins,
which are secured by cords through the holes of the basket.
These baskets are then placed in some dry situation,
the corded part upward, seven being usually placed as close
as they can be put together, and five on the top of these.
The whole is then wrapped up in mats, and made fast by cords,
over which mats are again thrown. Twelve of these baskets,
each of which contains from ninety to one hundred pounds,
form a stack, which is left exposed till it is sent to market.
The fish thus preserved keep sound and sweet for several years,
and great quantities, they inform us, are sent to the Indians
who live below the falls, whence it finds its way to the whites
who visit the mouth of the Columbia. We observe, both near
the lodges and on the rocks in the river, great numbers of stacks
of these pounded fish. Besides fish, these people supplied us
with filberts and berries, and we purchased a dog for supper;
but it was with much difficulty that we were able to buy wood
enough to cook it."
On the twenty-third the voyagers made the descent of the great
falls which had so long been an object of dread to them.
The whole height of the falls is thirty-seven feet,
eight inches, in a distance of twelve hundred yards.
A portage of four hundred and fifty yards was made around
the first fall, which is twenty feet high, and perpendicular.
By means of lines the canoes were let down the rapids below.
At the season of high water the falls become mere rapids up
which the salmon can pass. On this point the journal says:--
"From the marks everywhere perceivable at the falls, it is obvious
that in high floods, which must be in the spring, the water
below the falls rises nearly to a level with that above them.
Of this rise, which is occasioned by some obstructions which we
do not as yet know, the salmon must avail themselves to pass up
the river in such multitudes that this fish is almost the only one
caught in great abundance above the falls; but below that place
we observe the salmon-trout, and the heads of a species of trout
smaller than the salmon-trout, which is in great quantities,
and which they are now burying, to be used as their winter food.
A hole of any size being dug, the sides and bottom are lined
with straw, over which skins are laid; on these the fish, after being
well dried, are laid, covered with other skins, and the hole
is closed with a layer of earth twelve or fifteen inches deep.
. . . . . . . . .
We saw no game except a sea-otter, which was shot in the narrow channel
as we were coming down, but we could not get it. Having, therefore,
scarcely any provisions, we purchased eight small fat dogs:
a food to which we were compelled to have recourse, as the Indians were
very unwilling to sell us any of their good fish, which they reserved
for the market below. Fortunately, however, habit had completely
overcome the repugnance which we felt at first at eating this animal,
and the dog, if not a favorite dish, was always an acceptable one.
The meridian altitude of to-day gave 45'0 42' 57.3" north as the latitude
of our camp.
"On the beach, near the Indian huts, we observed two canoes of a
different shape and size from any which we had hitherto seen.
One of these we got by giving our smallest canoe a hatchet,
and a few trinkets to the owner, who said he had obtained it
from a white man below the falls in exchange for a horse.
These canoes were very beautifully made: wide in the middle,
and tapering towards each end, with curious figures carved on the bow.
They were thin, but, being strengthened by crossbars about
an inch in diameter, tied with strong pieces of bark through
holes in the sides, were able to bear very heavy burdens,
and seemed calculated to live in the roughest water."
At this point the officers of the expedition observed signs of uneasiness
in the two friendly Indian chiefs who had thus far accompanied them.
They also heard rumors that the warlike Indians below them were meditating
an attack as the party went down. The journal says:--
"Being at all times ready for any attempt of that sort, we were not under
greater apprehensions than usual at this intelligence. We therefore only
re-examined our arms, and increased the ammunition to one hundred rounds.
Our chiefs, who had not the same motives of confidence, were by no means
so much at their ease, and when at night they saw the Indians leave us
earlier than usual, their suspicions of an intended attack were confirmed,
and they were very much alarmed.
"The Indians approached us with apparent caution, and behaved with
more than usual reserve. Our two chiefs, by whom these circumstances
were not observed, now told us that they wished to return home;
that they could be no longer of any service to us; that they
could not understand the language of the people below the falls;
that those people formed a different nation from their own;
that the two people had been at war with each other;
and that as the Indians had expressed a resolution to attack us,
they would certainly kill them. We endeavored to quiet their fears,
and requested them to stay two nights longer, in which time we would
see the Indians below, and make a peace between the two nations.
They replied that they were anxious to return and see their horses.
We however insisted on their remaining with us, not only in hopes
of bringing about an accommodation between them and their enemies,
but because they might be able to detect any hostile designs
against us, and also assist us in passing the next falls,
which are not far off, and represented as very difficult.
They at length agreed to stay with us two nights longer."
The explorers now arrived at the next fall of the Columbia. Here was
a quiet basin, on the margin of which were three Indian huts.
The journal tells the rest of the story:--
"At the extremity of this basin stood a high black rock, which, rising
perpendicularly from the right shore, seemed to run wholly across the river:
so totally, indeed, did it appear to stop the passage, that we
could not see where the water escaped, except that the current was
seemingly drawn with more than usual velocity to the left of the rock,
where was heard a great roaring. We landed at the huts of the Indians,
who went with us to the top of the rock, from which we had a view