Lewis, August 23, 1805
Friday August 23rd 1805.
This morning I arrose very early and despatched two hunters on horseback with orders to extend their hunt to a greater distance up the S. E. fork than they had done heretofore, in order if possible to obtain some meet for ourselves as well as the Indians who appeared to depend on us for food and our store of provision is growing too low to indulge them with much more corn or flour. I wished to have set out this morning but the cheef requested that I would wait untill another party of his nation arrived which he expected today, to this I consented from necessity, and therefore sent out the hunters as I have mentioned. I also laid up the canoes this morning in a pond near the forks; sunk them in the water and weighted them down with stone, after taking out the plugs of the gage holes in their bottoms; hoping by this means to guard against both the effects of high water, and that of the fire which is frequently kindled in these plains by the natives. the Indians have promised to do them no intentional injury and beleive they are too lazy at any rate to give themselves the trouble to raise them from their present situation in order to cut or birn them. I reminded the chief of the low state of our stores of provision and advised him to send his young men to hunt, which he immediately recommended to them and most of them turned out. I wished to have purchased some more horses of them but they objected against disposing of any more of them untill we reach their camp beyond the mountains. the Indians pursued a mule buck near our camp I saw this chase for about 4 miles it was really entertaining, there were about twelve of them in pursuit of it on horseback, they finally rode it down and killed it. the all came in about 1 P.M. having killed 2 mule deer and three goats. this mule buck was the largest deer of any kind I had ever seen. it was nearly as large as a doe Elk. I observed that there was but little division or distribution of the meat they had taken among themselves. some familes had a large stock and others none. this is not customary among the nations of Indians with whom I have hitherto been acquainted I asked Cameahwait the reason why the hunters did not divide the meat among themselves; he said that meat was so scarce with them that the men who killed it reserved it for themselves and their own families. my hunters arrived about 2 in the evening with two mule deer and three common deer. I distributed three of the deer among those families who appeared to have nothing to eat. at three P.M. the expected party of Indians arrived, about 50 men women and Children. I now learnt that most of them were thus far on their way down the valley towards the buffaloe country, and observed that there was a good deel of anxiety on the part of some of those who had promised to assist me over the mountains to accompany this party, I felt some uneasiness on this subject but as they still said they would return with me as they had promised I said nothing to them but resolved to set out in the morning as early as possible. I dispatched two hunters this evening into the cove to hunt and leave the meat they might kill on the rout we shall pass tomorrow.
The metal which we found in possession of these people consited of a few indifferent knives, a few brass kettles some arm bands of iron and brass, a few buttons, woarn as ornaments in their hair, a spear or two of a foot in length and some iron and brass arrow points which they informed me they obtained in exchange for horses from the Crow or Rocky Mountain Indians on the yellowstone River. the bridlebits and stirrips they obtained from the Spaniards, tho these were but few. many of them made use of flint for knives, and with this instrument, skined the animals they killed, dressed their fish and made their arrows; in short they used it for every purpose to which the knife is applyed. this flint is of no regular form, and if they can only obtain a part of it, an inch or two in length that will cut they are satisfyed, they renew the edge by fleaking off the flint by means of the point of an Elk's or deer's horn. with the point of a deer or Elk's horn they also form their arrow points of the flint, with a quickness and neatness that is really astonishing. we found no axes nor hatchets among them; what wood they cut was done either with stone or Elk's horn. the latter they use always to rive or split their wood. their culinary eutensils exclusive of the brass kettle before mentioned consist of pots in the form of ajar made either of earth, or of a white soft stone which becomes black and very hard by birning, and is found in the hills near the three forks of the Missouri betwen Madison's and Gallitin's rivers they have also spoons made of the Buffaloe's horn and those of the Bighorn. Their bows are made of ceader or pine and have nothing remarkable about them. the back of the bow is covered with sinues and glue and is about 21/2 feet long. much the shape of those used by the Siouxs Mandans Minnetares &c. their arrows are more slender generally than those used by the nations just mentioned but much the same in construction. Their Sheild is formed of buffaloe hide, perfectly arrow proof, and is a circle of 2 feet 4 I. or 2 F. 6 I. in diameter. this is frequently painted with varios figures and ornamented around the edges with feather and a fringe of dressed leather. they sometimes make bows of the Elk's horn and those also of the bighorn. those of the Elk's horn are made of a single peice and covered on the back with glue and sinues like those made of wood, and are frequently ornamented with a stran wrought porcupine quills and sinues raped around them for some distance at both extremities. the bows of the bighorn are formed of small peices laid flat and cemented with gleue, and rolled with sinews, after which, they are also covered on the back with sinews and glew, and highly ornamented as they are much prized. forming the sheild is a cerimony of great importance among them, this implement would in their minds be devested of much of its protecting power were it not inspired with those virtues by their old men and jugglers. their method of preparing it is thus, an entire skin of a bull buffaloe two years old is first provided; a feast is next prepared and all the warriors old men and jugglers invited to partake. a hole is sunk in the ground about the same in diameter with the intended sheild and about 18 inches deep. a parcel of stones are now made red hot and thrown into the hole water is next thrown in and the hot stones cause it to emit a very strong hot steem, over this they spread the green skin which must not have been suffered to dry after taken off the beast. the flesh side is laid next to the groround and as many of the workmen as can reach it take hold on it's edges and extend it in every direction. as the skin becomes heated, the hair seperates and is taken of with the fingers, and the skin continues to contract untill the whoe is drawn within the compas designed for the shield, it is then taken off and laid on a parchment hide where they pound it with their heels when barefoot. this operation of pounding continues for several days or as long as the feast lasts when it is delivered to the propryeter and declared by the jugglers and old men to be a sufficient defence against the arrows of their enimies or even bullets if feast has been a satisfactory one. many of them beleive implisitly that a ball cannot penitrate their sheilds, in consequence of certain supernaural powers with which they have been inspired by their jugglers.- The Poggamoggon is an instrument with a handle of wood covered with dressed leather about the size of a whip handle and 22 inches long; a round stone of 2 pounds weight is also covered with leather and strongly united to the leather of the handle by a throng of 2 inches long; a loop of leather united to the handle passes arond the wrist. a very heavy blow may be given with this instrument. They have also a kind of armor which they form with many foalds of dressed Atelope's skin, unite with glue and sand. with this they cover their own bodies and those of their horses. these are sufficient against the effects of the arrow.- the quiver which contains their arrows and implements for making fire is formed of various skins. that of the Otter seems to be prefered. they are but narrow, of a length sufficent to protect the arrow from the weather, and are woarn on the back by means of a strap which passes over the left sholder and under the wright arm.their impliments for making fire is nothing more than a blunt arrow and a peice of well seasoned soft spongey wood such as the willow or cottonwood. the point of this arrow they apply to this dry stick so near one edge of it that the particles of wood which are seperated from it by the friction of the arrow falls down by it's side in a little pile. the arrow is held between the palms of the hand with the fingers extended, and being pressed as much as possible against the peice is briskly rolled between the palms of the hands backwards and forwards by pressing the arrow downwards the hands of course in rolling arrow also decend; they bring them back with a quick motion and repeat the operation till the dust by the friction takes fire; the peice and arrow are then removed and some dry grass or Boated wood is added. it astonished me to see in what little time these people would kindle fire in this way. in less than a minute they will produce fire.
Capt. Clark set out this morning very early and poroceeded but slowly in consequence of the difficulty of his road which lay along the steep side of a mountain over large irregular and broken masses of rocks which had tumbled from the upper part of the mountain. it was with much wrisk and pain that the horses could get on. at the distance of four miles he arrived at the river and the rocks were here so steep and juted into the river such manner that there was no other alternative but passing through the river, this he attempted with success tho water was so deep for a short distance as to swim the horses and was very rapid; he continued his rout one mile along the edge of the river under this steep Clift to a little bottom, below which the whole current of the river beat against the Stard. shore on which he was, and which was formed of a solid rock perfectly inaccessible to horses. here also the little track which he had been pursuing, terminated. he therefore determined to leave the horses and the majority of the party here and with his guide and three men to continue his rout down the river still further, in order more fully to satisfy himself as to it's practicability. accordingly he directed the men to hunt and fish at this place untill his return. they had not killed anything today but one goose, and the ballance of the little provision they had brought with them, as well as the five salmon they had procured yesterday were consumed last evening; there was of tours no inducement for his halting any time, at this place; after a few minutes he continued his rout clambering over immence rocks and along the sides of lofty precepices on the border of the river to the distance of 12 miles, at which place a large creek discharged itself on the Norh side 12 yds. wide and deep. a short distance above the entrance of this creek there is a narrow bottom which is the first that he had found on the river from that in which he left the horses and party. a plain indian road led up this creek which the guide informed him led to a large river that ran to the North, and was frequented by another nation who occasionally visited this river for the purpose of taking fish. at this place he saw some late appearance of Indians having been encamped and the tracks of a number of horses. Capt. C. halted here about 2 hours, caught some small fish, on which, with the addition of some berries, they dined. the river from the place at which he left the party to his present station was one continued rapid, in which there were five shoals neither of which could be passed with loaded canoes nor even run with empty ones. at those several places therefore it would be necessary to unload and transport the baggage for a considerable distance over steep and almost inacassable rocks where there was no possibility of employing horses for the releif of the men; the canoes would next have to be let down by cords and even with this precaution Capt. C. conceived there would be much wriske of both canoes and men. at one of those shoals the lofty perpendicular rocks which from the bases of the mountains approach the river so nearly on each side, as to prevent the possibility of a portage, or passage for the canoes without expending much labour in removing rocks and cuting away the earth in some places. to surmount These difficulties, precautions must be observed which in their execution must necessarily consume much time and provision, neither of which we can command. the season is now far advanced to remain in these mountains as the Indians inform us we shall shortly have snow; the salmon have so far declined that they are themselves haistening from the country and not an animal of any discription is to be seen in this difficult part of the river larger than a pheasant or a squirrel and they not abundant; add to this that our stock of provision is now so low that it would not support us more than ten days. the bends of the river are short and the currant beats from side to side against the rocks with great violence. the river is about 100 yds. wide and so deep that it cannot be foarded but in a few places, and the rocks approach the river so near in most places that there is no possibility of passing between them and the water; a passage therefore with horses along the river is also impracticable. The sides of these mountains present generally one barren surface of confused and broken masses of stone. above these are white or brown and towards the base of a grey colour and so hard that when struck with a steel, yeald fire like flint. those he had just past were scarcely releived by the appearance of a tree; but those below the entrance of the creek were better covered with timber, and there were also some tall pine near the river. The sides of the mountains are very steep, and the torrents of water which roll down their sides at certain seasons appear to carry with them vast quantities of the loose stone into the river. after dinner Capt. C. continued his rout down the river and at 1/2 a mile pased another creek not so large as that just mentioned, or about 5 yards wide. here his guide informed him that by ascending this creek some distance they would have a better road and would cut off a considerable bend which the river made to the south; accordingly he pursued a well beaten Indian track which led up this creek about six miles, then leaving the creek on the wright he passed over a ridge, and at the distance of a mile arrived at the river where it passes through a well timbered bottom of about eighty acres of land; they passed this bottom and asscended a steep and elivated point of a mountain, from whence the guide shewed him the brake of the river through the mountains for about 20 miles further. this view was terminated by one of the most lofty mountains, Capt. C. informed me, he had ever seen which was perfectly covered with snow. the river directed it's course immediately to this stupendous mountain at the bace of which the gude informe him those difficulties of which himself and nation had spoken, commenced. that after the river reached this mountain it continued it's rout to the North for many miles between high and perpendicular rocks, roling foaming and beating against innumerable rocks which crouded it's channel; that then it penetrated the mountain through a narrow gap leaving a perpendicular rock on either side as high as the top of the mountain which he beheld. that the river here making a bend they could not see through the mountain, and as it was impossible to decend the river or clamber over that vast mountain covered with eternal snow, neither himself nor any of his nation had ever been lower in this direction, than in view of the place at which the river entered this mountain; that if Capt. C. wished him to do so, he would conduct him to that place, where he thought they could probably arrive by the next evening. Capt. C. being now perfictly satisfyed as to the impractability of this rout either by land or water, informed the old man, that he was convinced of the varacity of his assertions and would now return to the village from whence they had set out where he expected to meet myself and party. they now returned to the upper part of the last creek he had passed, and encamped. it was an hour after dark before he reached this place. a small river falls into this fork of the Columbia just above the high mountain through which it passes on the south side.