The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, March 1, 1806

Lewis, March 1, 1806

Saturday March 1st 1806. This morning Sergt. Gass and a party set out in quest of the Elk which had been killed by the hunters the day before yesterday. they returned with the flesh of three of them late in the evening. Thompson was left with the hunters in order to jurk and take care of the flesh of the remaining two. Kuskelar and wife left us about noon. he had a good looking boy of about 10 years of age with him who he informed us was his slave. this boy had been taken prisoner by the Killamucks from some nation on the Coast to the S. East of them at a great distance. like other Indian nations they adopt their slaves in their families and treat them very much as their own children. Reubin Fields and Collins who have been absent since yesterday morning returned without having killed any game. The birds of the Western side of the Rocky Mountain to the Pacific Ocean, for convenience I shall divide into two classes, which I shal designate from the habits of the birds, Terrestrial and Aquatic.

The Grouse or Prarie hen is peculiarly the inhabitant of the Grait Plains of Columbia they do not differ from those of the upper portion of the Missouri, the tail of which is pointed or the feathers in it's center much longer than those on the sides. this Species differs essentially in the construction of this part of their plumage from those of the Illinois which have their tails composed of fathers of equal length. in the winter season this bird is booted even to the first joint of it's toes. the toes are also curiously bordered on their lower edges with narrow hard scales which are placed very close to each other and extend horizontally about 1/8 of an inch on each side of the toes thus adding to the width of the tread which nature seems bountifully to have furnished them at this season for passing over the snow with more ease. in the summer season those scales fall off. They have four toes on each foot. Their colour is a mixture of dark brown redish and yellowish brown and white confusedly mixed in which the redish brown prevails most on the upper parts of the body wings and tail and the white underneath the belley and lower parts of the breast and tail. they associate in large flocks in autumn & winter and are frequently found in flocks of from five to six even in summer. They feed on grass, insects, the leaves of various shrubs in the plains and on the seeds of several species of spelts and wild rye which grow in the richer parts of the plains. in winter their food is the buds of the willow & Cottonwood also the most of the native berries furnish them with food.The Indians of this neighbourhood eat the root of the Cattail or Cooper's flag. it is pleasantly taisted and appears to be very nutricious. the inner part of the root which is eaten without any previous preperation is composed of a number of capillary white flexable strong fibers among which is a mealy or starch like substance which readily desolves in the mouth and separate from the fibers which are then rejected. it appears to me that this substance would make excellent starch; nothing can be of a purer white than it is.-