The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, March 19, 1806
Lewis, March 19, 1806
Wednesday March 19th 1806. It continued to rain and hail today in such manner that nothing further could be done to the canoes. a pratry were sent out early after the Elk which was killed yesterday with which they returned in the course of a few hours. we gave Comowooll alias Connia, a cirtificate of his good conduct and the friendly intercourse which he has maintained with us during our residence at this place; we also gave him a list of our names.do not. The Killamucks, Clatsops, Chinnooks, Cathlahmahs and Wac-ki-a-cums resemble each other as well in their persons and dress as in their habits and manners.- their complexion is not remarkable, being the usual copper brown of most of the tribes of North America. they are low in statue reather diminutive, and illy shapen; possessing thick broad flat feet, thick ankles, crooked legs wide mouths thick lips, nose moderately large, fleshey, wide at the extremity with large nostrils, black eyes and black coarse hair. their eyes are sometimes of a dark yellowish brown the puple black. I have observed some high acqualine noses among them but they are extreemty rare. the nose is generally low between the eyes.- the most remarkable trait in their physiognomy is the peculiar flatness and width of forehead which they artificially obtain by compressing the head between two boards while in a state of infancy and from which it never afterwards perfectly recovers. this is a custom among all the nations we have met with West of the Rocky mountains. I have observed the heads of many infants, after this singular bandage had been dismissed, or about the age of 10 or eleven months, that were not more than two inches thick about the upper edge of the forehead and reather thiner still higher. from the top of the head to the extremity of the nose is one streight line. this is done in order to give a greater width to the forehead, which they much admire. this process seems to be continued longer with their female than their mail children, and neither appear to suffer any pain from the operation. it is from this peculiar form of the head that the nations East of the Rocky mountains, call all the nations on this side, except the Aliahtans or snake Indians, by the generic name of Flat heads. I think myself that the prevalence of this custom is a strong proof that those nations having originally proceeded from the same stock. The nations of this neighbourhood or those recapitulated above, wear their hair loosly flowing on the back and sholders; both men and women divide it on the center of the crown in front and throw it back behind the ear on each side. they are fond of combs and use them when they can obtain them; and even without the aid of the comb keep their hair in better order than many nations who are in other rispects much more civilized than themselves.- the large or apparently swolen legs particularly observable in the women are obtained in a great measure by tying a cord tight around the ankle. their method of squating or resting themselves on their hams which they seem from habit to prefer to siting, no doubt contributes much to this deformity of the legs by preventing free circulation of the blood. the dress of the man consists of a smal robe, which reaches about as low as the middle of the thye and is attatched with a string across the breast and is at pleasure turned from side to side as they may have occasion to disencumber the right or left arm from the robe entirely, or when they have occasion for both hands, the fixture of the robe is in front with it's corners loosly hanging over their arms. they sometimes wear a hat which has already been discribed. this robe is made most commonly of the skins of a small animal which I have supposed was the brown mungo, tho they have also a number, of the skins of the tiger cat, some of those of the Elk which are used principally on their war excursions, others of the skins of the deer panther and bear and a blanket wove with the fingers of the wool of the native sheep. a mat is sometimes temperarily thrown over the sholders to protect them from rain. they have no other article of cloathing whatever neither winter nor summer. and every part except the sholders and back is exposed to view. they are very fond of the dress of the whites, which they wear in a similar manner when they can obtain them, except the shoe which I have never seen woarn by any of them. they call us pah-shish'e-ooks, or cloth men. The dress of the women consists of a robe, tissue, and sometimes when the weather is uncommonly cold, a vest. their robe is much smaller than that of the men, never reaching lower than the waist nor extending in front sufficiently far to cover the body. it is like that of the men confined across the breast with a string and hangs loosly over the sholders and back. the most esteemed and valuable of these robes are made of strips of the skins of the Sea Otter net together with the bark of the white cedar or silk-grass. these strips are first twisted and laid parallel with each other a little distance assunder, and then net or wove together in such manner that the fur appears equally on both sides, and unites between the strands. it make a warm and soft covering. other robes are formed in a similar manner of the skin of the Rackoon, beaver &c. at other times the skin is dressed in the hair and woarn without any further preperation. in this way one beaver skin, or two of those of the Raccoon or tiger catt forms the pattern of the robe. the vest is always formed in the manner first discribed of their robes and covers the body from the armpits to the waist, and is confined behind, and destitute of straps over the sholder to keep it up. when this vest is woarn the breast of the woman is concealed, but without it which is almost always the case, they are exposed, and from the habit of remaining loose and unsuspended grow to great length particularly in aged women in many of whom I have seen the hubby reach as low as the waist. The garment which occupys the waist, and from thence as low as nearly to the knee before and the ham, behind, cannot properly be denominated a petticoat, in the common acceptation of that term; it is a tissue of white cedar bark, bruised or broken into small shreds, which are interwoven in the middle by means of several cords of the same materials, which serve as well for a girdle as to hold in place the shreds of bark which form the tissue, and which shreds confined in the middle hang with their ends pendulous from the waist, the whole being of sufficient thickness when the female stands erect to conceal those parts usually covered from formiliar view, but when she stoops or places herself in many other attitudes, this battery of Venus is not altogether impervious to the inquisitive and penetrating eye of the amorite. This tissue is sometimes formed of little twisted cords of the silk grass knoted at their ends and interwoven as discribed of the bark. this kind is more esteemed and last much longer than those of bark. they also form them of flags and rushes which are woarn in a similar manner. the women as well as the men sometimes cover themselves from the rain by a mat woarn over the sholders. they also cover their heads from the rain sometimes with a common water cup or basket made of the cedar bark and beargrass. these people seldom mark their skins by puncturing and introducing a colouring matter. such of them as do mark themselves in this manner prefer their legs and arms on which they imprint parallel lines of dots either longitudinally or circularly. the women more frequently than the men mark themselves in this manner.
The favorite ornament of both sexes are the common coarse blue and white beads which the men wear tightly wound arond their wrists and ankles many times untill they obtain the width of three or more inches. they also wear them in large rolls loosly arond the neck, or pendulous from the cartelage of the nose or rims of the ears which are purforated for the purpose. the women wear them in a similar manner except in the nose which they never purforate. they are also fond of a species of wampum which is furnished them by a trader whom they call Swipton. it seems to be the native form of the shell without any preperation. this shell is of a conic form somewhat curved, about the size of a raven's quill at the base, and tapering to a point which is sufficiently large to permit to hollow through which a small thred passes; it is from one to 11/2 Inches in length, white, smooth, hard and thin. these are woarn in the same manner in which the beads are; and furnish the men with their favorite ornament for the nose. one of these shells is passed horizontally through the cartilage of the nose and serves frequently as a kind of ring to prevent the string which suspends other ornaments at the same part from chafing and freting the flesh. the men sometimes wear collars of bears claws, and the women and children the tusks of the Elk variously arranged on their necks arms &c. both males and females wear braslets on their wrists of copper brass or Iron in various forms. I think the most disgusting sight I have ever beheld is these dirty naked wenches. The men of these nations partake of much more of the domestic drudgery than I had at first supposed. they collect and prepare all the fuel, make the fires, assist in cleansing and preparing the fish, and always cook for the strangers who visit them. they also build their houses, construct their canoes, and make all their wooden utensils. the peculiar provence of the woman seems to be to collect roots and manufacture various articles which are prepared of rushes, flags, cedar bark, bear grass or waytape. the management of the canoe for various purposes seems to be a duty common to both sexes, as also many other occupations which with most Indian nations devolves exclusively on the woman. their feasts which they are very fond are always prepared and served by the men.
Comowool and the two Cathlahmahs left us this evening. it continued to rain so constantly today that Sergt. Pryor could not pitch his canoes.