The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, February 26, 1806
Lewis, February 26, 1806
Wednesday February 26th 1806. This morning we dispatched Drewyer and two men in our Indian canoe up the Columbia River to take sturgeon and Anchovey. or if they were unsuccessfull in fishing we directed them to purchase fish from the natives for which purpose we had furnished them with a few articles such as the natives are pleased with. we also Sent Shields, Joseph Fields and Shannon up the Netul to hunt Elk. and directed Reubin Fields and some others to hunt in the point towards the praries of Point Adams. thus we hope shortly to replenish our stock of provision which is now reduced to a mere minnamum. we have three days provision only in store and that of the most inferior dryed Elk a little tainted. a comfortable prospect for good living. Sewelel is the Chinnook and Clatsop name for a small animal found in the timbered country on this coast. it is more abundant in the neighbourhood of the great falls and rapids of the Columbia than immediately on the coast. the natives make great use of the skins of this animal in forming their robes, which they dress with the fur on them and attatch together with sinews of the Elk or deer. I have never seen the animal and can therefore discribe it only from the skin and a slight view which some of our hunters have obtained of the living animal. the skin when dressed is from 14 to 18 inches in length and from 7 to 9 in width; the tail is always severed from the skin in forming their robes I cannot therefore say what form or length it is. one of the men informed me that he thought it reather short and flat. that he saw one of them run up a tree like a squirrel and that it returned and ran into a hole in the ground. the ears are short thin pointed and covered with short fine hair. they are of a uniform colour, a redish brown; tho the base of the long hairs, which exceed the fur but little in length, as well as the fur itself is of a dark colour for at least two thirds of it's length next to the skin. the fur and hair are very fine, short, thickly set and silky. the ends of the fur and tips of the hair being of the redish brown that colour predominates in the ordinary appearance of the animal. I take this animal to be about the size of the barking squirrel of the Missouri. and beleive most probably that it is of the Mustela genus, or perhaps the brown mungo itself. I have indeavoured in many instances to make the indians sensible how anxious I was to obtain one of these animals entire, without being skined, and offered them considerable rewards to furnish me with one, but have not been able to make them comprehend me. I have purchased several of the robes made of these skins to line a coat which I have had made of the skins of the tiger cat. they make a very pleasant light lining. the Braro so called by the French engages is an animal of the civit genus and much resembles the common badger. this is an inhabitant of the open plains of the Columbia as they are of those of the Missouri but are sometimes also found in the woody country. they burrow in the hard grounds of the plains with surprising ease and dexterity an will cover themselves in the ground in a very few minutes. they have five long fixed nails on each foot; those of the forefeet are much the longest; and one of those on each hind foot is double like those of the beaver. they weigh from 14 to 18 lbs. the body is reather long in proportion to it's thickness. the forelegs remarkably large and muscular and are formed like the ternspit dog. they are short as are also the hind legs. they are broad across the sholders and brest. the neck short. the head is formed much like the common fist dog only that the skull is more convex. the mouth is wide and furnished with sharp streight teeth both above and below, with four sharp streight pointed tusks, two in the upper and two in the lower jaw. the eyes are black and small. whiskers are plased in four points on each side near the nose and on the jaws near the opening of the mouth. the ears are very short wide and appressed as if they had ben cut off. the apperture through them to the head is remarkably small. the tail is about 4 inches long; the hair longest on it at it's junction with the body and becoming shorter towards it's extremity where it ends in an accute point. the hairs of the body are much longer on the side and rump than any other part, which gives the body and apparent flatness, particularly when the animal rests on it's belley. this hair is upwards of 3 inches in length particularly on the rump where it extends so far towards the point of the tail that it almost conceals the shape of that part and gives to the whole of the hinder part of the body the figure of an accute angled triangle of which the point of the tail forms the accute angle. the small quantity of coarse fur which is intermixed with the hair is of a redish pale yellow. the hair of the back, sides, upper part of the neck and tail, are of a redish light or pale yellow for about 2/3rds of their length from the skin, next black, and then tiped with white; forming a curious mixture of grey and fox coloured red with a yellowish hue. the belley flanks and breast are of the foxcoloured redish yellow. the legs black. the nails white the head on which the hair is short, is varia gated with black and white. a narrow strip of white commences on the top of the nose about 1/2 an inch from it's extremity and extends back along the center of the forehead and neck nearly to the sholders- two stripes of black succeed the white on either side imbracing the sides of the nose, the eyes, and extends back as far as the ears. two other spots of black of a ramboidal figure are placed on the side of the head near the ears and between them and the opening of the mouth. two black spots also immediately behind the ears. the other parts of the head white. this animal feeds on flesh, roots, bugs, and wild fruits.- it is very clumsy and runs very slow. I have in two instances out run this animal and caught it. in this rispect they are not much more fleet than the porcupine.