The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, August 11, 1805
Lewis, August 11, 1805
Sunday August 11th 1805.
We set out very early this morning; but the track which we had pursued last evening soon disappeared. I therefore resolved to proceed to the narrow pass on the creek about 10 miles West in hopes that I should again find the Indian road at the place, accordingly I passed the river which was about 12 yards wide and bared in several places entirely across by beaver dams and proceeded through the level plain directly to the pass. I now sent Drewyer to keep near the creek to my right and Shields to my left, with orders to surch for the road which if they found they were to notify me by placing a hat in the muzzle of their gun. I kept McNeal with me; after having marched in this order for about five miles I discovered an Indian on horse back about two miles distant coming down the plain toward us. with my glass I discovered from his dress that he was of a different nation from any that we had yet seen, and was satisfyed of his being a Sosone; his arms were a bow and quiver of arrows, and was mounted on an eligant horse without a saddle, and a small string which was attatched to the underjaw of the horse which answered as a bridle. I was overjoyed at the sight of this stranger and had no doubt of obtaining a friendly introduction to his nation provided I could get near enough to him to convince him of our being whitemen. I therefore proceeded towards him at my usual pace. when I had arrived within about a mile he mad a halt which I did also and unloosing my blanket from my pack, I mad him the signal of friendship known to the Indians of the Rocky mountains and those of the Missouri, which is by holding the mantle or robe in your hands at two corners and then throwing up in the air higher than the head bringing it to the earth as if in the act of spreading it, thus repeating three times. this signal of the robe has arrisen from a custom among all those nations of spreading a robe or skin for ther gests to set on when they are visited. this signal had not the desired effect, he still kept his position and seemed to view Drewyer an Shields who were now comiming in sight on either hand with an air of suspicion, I wold willingly have made them halt but they were too far distant to hear me and I feared to make any signal to them least it should increase the suspicion in the mind of the Indian of our having some unfriendly design upon him. I therefore haistened to take out of my sack some beads a looking glas and a few trinkets which I had brought with me for this purpose and leaving my gun and pouch with McNeal advanced unarmed towards him. he remained in the same stedfast poisture untill I arrived in about 200 paces of him when he turn his hose about and began to move off slowly from me; I now called to him in as loud a voice as I could command repeating the word tab-ba-bone, which in their language signifyes white man. but loking over his sholder he still kept his eye on Drewyer and Sheilds who wer still advancing neither of them haveing segacity enough to recollect the impropriety of advancing when they saw me thus in parley with the Indian. I now made a signal to these men to halt, Drewyer obeyed but Shields who afterwards told me that he did not obseve the signal still kept on the Indian halted again and turned his horse about as if to wait for me, and I beleive he would have remained untill I came up whith him had it not been for Shields who still pressed forward. whe I arrived within about 150 paces I again repepeated the word tab-ba-bone and held up the trinkits in my hands and striped up my shirt sieve to give him an opportunity of seeing the colour of my skin and advanced leasure towards him but he did not remain untill I got nearer than about 100 paces when he suddonly turned his hose about, gave him the whip leaped the creek and disapeared in the willow brush in an instant and with him vanished all my hopes of obtaining horses for the preasent. I now felt quite as much mortification and disappointment as I had pleasure and expectation at the first sight of this indian. I fet soarly chargrined at the conduct of the men particularly Sheilds to whom I principally attributed this failure in obtaining an introduction to the natives. I now called the men to me and could not forbare abraiding them a little for their want of attention and imprudence on this occasion. they had neglected to bring my spye-glass which in haist I had droped in the plain with the blanket where I made the signal before mentioned. I sent Drewyer and Shields back to surche it, they soon found it and rejoined me. we now set out on the track of the horse hoping by that means to be lead to an indian camp, the trail of inhabitants of which should they abscond we should probably be enabled to pursue to the body of the nation to which they would most probably fly for safety. this rout led us across a large Island framed by nearly an equal division of the creek in this bottom; after passing to the open ground on the N. side of the creek we observed that the track made out toward the high hills about 3 m. distant in that direction. I thought it probable that their camp might probably be among those hills & that they would reconnoiter us from the tops of them, and that if we advanced haistily towards them that they would become allarmed and probably run off; I therefore halted in an elivated situation near the creek had a fire kindled of willow brush cooked and took breakfast. during this leasure I prepared a small assortment of trinkits consisting of some mockkerson awls a few strans of several kinds of beads some paint a looking glass &c which I attatched to the end of a pole and planted it near our fire in order that should the Indians return in surch of us they might from this token discover that we were friendly and white persons. before we had finised our meal a heavy shower of rain came on with some hail wich continued abot 20 minutes and wet us to the skin, after this shower we pursued the track of the horse but as the rain had raised the grass which he had trodden down it was with difficulty that we could follow it. we pursued it however about 4 miles it turning up the valley to the left under the foot of the hills. we pas several places where the Indians appeared to have been diging roots today and saw the fresh tracks of 8 or ten horses but they had been wandering about in such a confused manner that we not only lost the track of the hose which we had been pursuing but could make nothing of them. in the head of this valley we passed a large bog covered with tall grass and moss in which were a great number of springs of cold pure water, we now turned a little to the left along the foot of the high hills and arrived at a small branch on which we encamped for the night, having traveled in different directions about 20 Miles and about 10 from the camp of last evening on a direct line. after meeting with the Indian today I fixed a small flag of the U'S. to a pole which I made McNeal carry. and planted in the ground where we halted or encamped.
This morning Capt Clark dispatched several hunters a head; the morning being rainy and wet did not set out untill after an early breakfast. he passed a large Island which he called the 3000 mile Island from the circumstance of it's being that distance from the entrance of the Missouri by water. a considerable proportion of the bottom on Lard. side is a bog covered with tall grass and many parts would afford fine turf; the bottom is about 8 Ms. wide and the plains which succeed it on either side extend about the same distance to the base of the mountains. they passed a number of small Islands and bayous on both sides which cut and intersect the bottoms in various directions. found the river shallow and rapid, insomuch that the men wer compelled to be in the water a considerable proportion of the day in drageing the canoes over the shoals and riffles. they saw a number of geese ducks beaver & otter, also some deer and antelopes. the men killed a beaver with a seting pole and tommahawked several Otter. the hunters killed 3 deer and an Antelope. Capt. C. observed some bunches of privy near the river. there are but few trees in this botom and those small narrow leafed Cottonwood. the principal growth is willow with the narrow leaf and Currant bushes. they encamped this evening on the upper point of a large Island near the Stard. shore.-