The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, January 17, 1806
Lewis, January 17, 1806
Saturday January 17th 1806
This morning we were visited by Comowool and 7 of the Clatsops our nearest neighbours, who left us again in the evening. They brought with them some roots and buries for sale, of which however they disposed of but very few as they asked for them such prices as our stock in trade would not license us in giving. the Chief Comowool gave us some roots and buries for which we gave him in return a mockerson awl and some thread; the latter he wished for the purpose of making a skiming net. one of the party was dressed in three very eligant Sea Otter skins which we much wanted; for these we offered him many articles but he would not dispose of them for any other consideration but blue beads, of these we had only six fathoms left, which being 4 less than his price for each skin he would not exchange nor would a knife or an equivalent in beads of any other colour answer his purposes, these coarse blue beads are their favorite merchandiz, and are called by them tia Commashuck or Chiefs beads. the best wampum is not so much esteemed by them as the most inferior beads. Sent Coalter out to hunt this morning, he shortly after returned with a deer, venison is a rarity with us we have had none for some weeks. Drewyer also set out on a hunting excertion and took one man with him. he intends both to hunt the Elk and trap the beaver.
The Culinary articles of the Indians in our neighbourhood consist of wooden bowls or throughs, baskets, wooden spoons and woden scures or spits. Their wooden bowls and troughs are of different forms and sizes, and most generally dug out of a solid piece; they are ither round or simi globular, in the form of a canoe, cubic, and cubic at top terminating in a globe at bottom; these are extreemly well executed and many of them neatly carved the larger vessels with hand-holes to them; in these vessels they boil their fish or flesh by means of hot stones which they immerce in the water with the article to be boiled. they also render the oil of fish or other anamals in the same manner. their baskets are formed of cedar bark and beargrass so closely interwoven with the fingers that they are watertight without the aid of gum or rosin; some of these are highly ornamented with strans of beargrass which they dye of several colours and interweave in a great variety of figures; this serves them the double perpose of holding their water or wearing on their heads; and are of different capacites from that of the smallest cup to five or six gallons; they are generally of a conic form or reather the segment of a cone of which the smaller end forms the base or bottom of the basket. these they make very expediciously and dispose off for a mear trifle. it is for the construction of these baskets that the beargrass becomes an article of traffic among the natives this grass grows only on their high mountains near the snowey region; the blade is about 3/8 of an inch wide and 2 feet long smoth pliant and strong; the young blades which are white from not being exposed to the sun or air, are those most commonly employed, particularly in their neatest work. Their spoons are not remarkable nor abundant, they are generally large and the bole brawd. their meat is roasted with a sharp scure, one end of which is incerted in the meat with the other is set erect in the ground. the spit for roasting fish has it's upper extremity split, and between it's limbs the center of the fish is inscerted with it's head downwards and the tale and extremities of the scure secured with a string, the sides of the fish, which was in the first instance split on the back, are expanded by means of small splinters of wood which extend crosswise the fish. a small mat of rushes or flags is the usual plate or dish on which their fish, flesh, roots or burries are served. they make a number of bags and baskets not watertight of cedar bark, silk-grass, rushes, flags and common coarse sedge. in these they secure their dryed fish, rooots, buries, &c.