The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, January 9, 1806
Lewis, January 9, 1806
Friday January 9th 1806. Our men are now very much engaged in dressing Elk and Deer skins for mockersons and cloathing. the deer are extreemly scarce in this neighbourhood, some are to be found near the praries and open grounds along the coast. this evening we heard seven guns in quick succession after each other, they appeared to be on the Creek to the South of us and several miles distant; I expect that the hunters Drewyer and Collins have fallen in with a gang of Elk. some marrow bones and a little fresh meat would be exceptable; I have been living for two days past on poor dryed Elk, or jurk as the hunters term it.
The Clatsops Chinnooks &c. bury their dead in their canoes. for this purpose four pieces of split timber are set erect on end, and sunk a few feet in the grown, each brace having their flat sides opposite to each other and sufficiently far assunder to admit the width of the canoes in which the dead are to be deposited; through each of these perpendicular posts, at the hight of six feet a mortice is cut, through which two bars of wood are incerted; on these cross bars a small canoe is placed in which the body is laid after being carefully roled in a robe of some dressed skins; a paddle is also deposited with them; a larger canoe is now reversed, overlaying and imbracing the small one, and resting with it's gunwals on the cross bars; one or more large mats of rushes or flags are then roled around the canoes and the whole securely lashed with a long cord, usually made of the bark of the Arbor vita or white cedar. on the cross bars which support the canoes is frequently hung or laid various articles of cloathing culinary eutensels &c. I cannot understand them sufficiently to make any enquiries relitive to their religeous opinions, but presume from their depositing various articles with their dead, that they believe in a state of future existence.
The persons who usually visit the entrance of this river for the purpose of traffic or hunting I believe are either English or Americans; the Indians inform us that they speak the same language with ourselves, and give us proofs of their varacity by repeating many words of English, as musquit, powder, shot, nife, file, damned rascal, sun of a bitch &c. whether these traders are from Nootka sound, from some other late establishment on this coast, or immediately from the U States or Great Brittain, I am at a loss to determine, nor can the Indians inform us. the Indians whom I have asked in what direction the traders go when they depart from hence, or arrive here, always point to the S. W. from which it is presumeable that Nootka cannot be their destination; and as from Indian information a majority of these traders annually visit them about the beginning of April and remain with them six or seven Months, they cannot come immediately from Great Britain or the U States, the distance being too great for them to go and return in the ballance of the year. from this circumstance I am sometimes induced to believe that there is some other establishment on the coast of America south West of this place of which little is but yet known to the world, or it may be perhaps on some Island in the pacific ocean between the Continents of Asia and America to the South West of us. This traffic on the part of the whites consists in vending, guns, (principally old british or American musquits) powder, balls and Shot, Copper and brass kettles, brass teakettles and coffee pots, blankets from two to three point, scarlet and blue Cloth (coarse), plates and strips of sheet copper and brass, large brass wire, knives, beads and tobacco with fishinghooks buttons and some other small articles; also a considerable quantity of Sailor's cloaths, as hats coats, trowsers and shirts. for these they receive in return from the natives, dressed and undressed Elkskins, skins of the sea Otter, common Otter, beaver, common fox, spuck, and tiger cat; also dryed and pounded sammon in baskets, and a kind of buisquit, which the natives make of roots called by them shappelell. The natives are extravegantly fond of the most common cheap blue and white beads, of moderate size, or such that from 50 to 70 will weigh one penneyweight. the blue is usually pefered to the white; these beads constitute the principal circulating medium with all the indian tribes on this river; for these beads they will dispose any article they possess.- the beads are strung on strans of a fathom in length and in that manner sold by the bredth or yard.-