The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, January 14, 1806

Lewis, January 14, 1806

Wednesday January 14th 1806. This morning the Sergt. of the Guard reported the absence of one of the large perogues, it had broken the chord by which it was attatched and the tide had taken it off; we sent a party immediately in surch of her, they returned in about 3 hours having fortunately found her. we now directed three of the perogues to be drawn up out of reach of the tide and the fourth to be mored in the small branch just above the landing and confined with a strong rope of Elk-skin. had we lost this perogue also we should have been obliged to make three small ones, which with the few tools we have now left would be a serious undertaking. a fatiegue of 6 men employed in jerking the Elk beaf.

From the best estimate we were enabled to make as we dscended the Columbia we conceived that the natives inhabiting that noble stream, for some miles above the great falls to the grand rappids inclusive annually prepare about 30,000 lbs. of pounded sammon for market. but whether this fish is an article of commerce with the whites or is exclusively sold to and consumed by the natives of the sea Coast, we are at a loss to determine. the first of those positions I am disposed to credit most, but, still I must confess that I cannot imagine what the white merchant's object can be in purchasing this fish, or where they dispose of it. and on the other hand the Indians in this neighbourhood as well as the Skillutes have an abundance of dryed sammon which they take in the creeks and inlets, and I have never seen any of this pounded fish in their lodges, which I pesume would have been the case if they purchased this pounded fish for their own consumption. the Indians who prepared this dryed and pounded fish, informed us that it was to trade with the whites, and shewed us many articles of European manufacture which they obtained for it. it is true they obtain those articles principally for their fish but they trade with the Skillutes for them and not immediately with the whites; the intermediate merchants and carryers, the Skillutes, may possibly consume a part of this fish themselves and dispose of the ballance of it the natives of the sea coast, and from them obtain such articles as they again trade with the whites.