The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Clark, January 9, 1806
Clark, January 9, 1806
Thursday 9th of January 1806
a fine morning wind from the N. E. last night about 10 oClock while Smokeing with the nativ's I was alarmed by a loud Srile voice from the Cabins on the opposite Side, the Indians all run immediately across to the village, my guide who Continued with me made Signs that Some one's throat was Cut, by enquiry I found that one man McNeal was absent, I imediately Sent off Sergt. N. Pryor & 4 men in quest of McNeal who they met comeing across the Creak in great hast, and informed me that the people were alarmed on the opposit Side at Something but what he could not tell, a man had verry friendly envited him to go and eate in his lodge, that the Indian had locked armes with him and went to a lodge in which a woman gave him Some blubber, that the man envited him to another lodge to get Something better, and the woman held him by the blanket which he had around him another ran out and hollow'd and his pretended friend disapeared- I emediately ordered every man to hold themselves in a State of rediness and Sent Sergt. Pryor & 4 men to know the cause of the alarm which was found to be a premeditated plan of the pretended friend of McNeal to assanate for his Blanket and what fiew articles he had about him, which was found out by a Chin nook woman who allarmed the men of the village who were with me in time to prevent the horred act. this man was of another band at Some distance and ran off as Soon as he was discovered. we have now to look back and Shudder at the dreadfull road on which we have to return of 45 miles S E of Point adams & 35 miles from Fort Clatsop. I had the blubber & oil divided among the party and Set out about Sunrise and returned by the Same rout we had went out, met Several parties of men & womin of the Chinnook and Clatsops nations, on their way to trade with the Kil a mox for blubber and oil; on the Steep decent of the Mountain I overtook five men and Six womin with emence loads of the Oil and blubber of the Whale, those Indians had passed by Some rout by which we missed them as we went out yesterday; one of the women in the act of getting down a Steep part of the mountain her load by Some means had Sliped off her back, and She was holding the load by a Strap which was fastened to the mat bag in which it was in, in one hand and holding a bush by the other, as I was in front of my party, I endeavored to relieve this woman by takeing her load untill She Could get to a better place a little below, & to my estonishment found the load as much as I Could lift and must exceed 100 wt. the husband of this woman who was below Soon came to her releif, those people proceeded on with us to the Salt works, at which place we arrived late in the evening, found them without meat, and 3 of the Party J. Field Gibson & Shannon out hunting. as I was excessively fatigued and my party appeared verry much so, I deturmined to Stay untill the morning and rest our Selves a little. The Clatsops proceeded on with their lodes- The Clatsops, Chin nooks Kil a mox &c. are verry loquacious and inquisitive; they possess good memories and have repeeted to us the names capasities of the Vessels &c of maney traders and others who have visited the mouth of this river; they are generally low in Statue, proportionably Small, reather lighter complected and much more illy formed than the Indians of the Missouri and those of our fronteers; they are generally Chearfull but never gay. with us their Conversation generally turns upon the subject of trade, Smokeing, eating or their womin; about the latter, they Speak without reserve in their presence, of their every part, and of the most farmiliar Connection. they do not hold the virtue of their womin in high estimation, and will even prostitute their wives and Daughters for a fishing hook or a Stran of beeds. in Common with other Savage nations they make their womin perform every Species of domestic drugery; but in almost every Species of this drugery the men also participate. their woman are compelled to gather roots, and assist them in takeing fish; which articles form much the greater part of their Subsistance; notwithstanding the Survile manner in which they treat their womin they pay much more respect to their judgement and oppinion in maney respects than most indian nations; their womin are permited to Speak freely before them, and Sometimes appear to command with a tone of authority; they generally consult them in their traffic and act conformably to their opinions.
I think it may be established as a general maxim that those nations treat their old people and women with most defference and respect where they Subsist principally on Such articles that these can participate with the men in obtaining them; and that, that part of the Community are treated with least attention, when the act of precureing subsistance devolves intirely on the men in the vigor of life. It appears to me that nature has been much more deficient in her filial ties than in any others of the Strong effections of the humane heart, and therefore think our old men equally with our woman indebted to Sivilization for their ease and Comfort. I am told among the Sioux's, Assinniboins and others on the Missouri who Subsist by hunting it is a Custom when a person of either Sex becoms So old and infirm that they are unable to travel on foot, from Camp to Camp as they rove in serch of Subsistance, for the Children or near relations of Such person to leave them without Compunction or remorse; on those occasions they usially place within their reach a Small piece of meat and a platter of water, telling the poor old Superannuated retch for their Consolation, that he or She had lived long enough, and that it was time they Should die and go to their relations who Can afford to take Care of them, much better than they Could. I am informed that the Me ne tar es Ar war har mays and Ricares when attended by their old people on their hunting expedition prosued the Same Custom; but injustice to those people I must observe that it appeared to me at their villages, that they provided tolerably well for their aged persons, and Several of their feasts appear to have principally for their object a contribution for their aged and infirm persons. In one of the Mandan villages I Saw an old man to whome I gave a knife and enquired his age, he Said he had Seen more than 100 winters, and that he Should Soon go down the river to their old village- he requested I would give him Something to prevent the pain in his back his grand Son a Young man rebuked the old man and Said it was not worth while, that it was time for the old man to die. the old man occupied one Side of the fire and was furnished with plenty of Covouring and food, and every attention appeared to be paid him &c. Jo. Field in my absence had killed an Elk and a Deer, brought in the Deer and half of the Elk on a part of which we Suped, Some rain a little after dark. I visited a house near the Salt boilers found it inhabited by 2 families, they were pore dirty and their house Sworming with flees.-