The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, April 11, 1806
Lewis, April 11, 1806
Friday April 11th 1806. As the tents and skins which covered both our men and baggage were wet with the rain which fell last evening, and as it continued still raining this morning we concluded to take our canoes first to the head of the rapids, hoping that by evening the rain would cease and afford us a fair afternoon to take our baggage over the portage. this portage is two thousand eight hundred yards along a narrow rough and slipery road. the duty of getting the canoes above the rapid was by mutual consent confided to my friend Capt. C. who took with him for that purpose all the party except Bratton who is yet so weak he is unable to work, three others who were lamed by various accedents and one other to cook for the party. a few men were absolutely necessary at any rate to guard our baggage from the War-clel-lars who crouded about our camp in considerable numbers. these are the greates theives and scoundrels we have met with. by the evening Capt. C. took 4 of our canoes above the rapids tho with much difficulty and labour. the canoes were much damaged by being driven against the rocks in dispite of every precaution which could be taken to prevent it. the men complained of being so much fatiegued in the evening that we posponed taking up our 5th canoe untill tomorrow. these rapids are much worse than they were fall when we passed them, at that time there were only three difficult points within seven miles, at present the whole distance is extreemly difficult of ascent, and it would be impracticable to decend except by leting down the empty vessels by a cord and then even the wrisk would be greater than in taking them up by the same means. the water appears to be upwards of 20 feet higher than when we decended the river. the distance by way of the river between the points of the portage is 3 Msmany of the natives crouded about the bank of the river where the men were engaged in taking up the canoes; one of them had the insolence to cast stones down the bank at two of the men who happened to be a little detatched from the party at the time. on the return of the party in the evening from the head of the rapids they met with many of the natives on the road, who seemed but illy disposed; two of these fellows met with John Sheilds who had delayed some time in purchasing a dog and was a considerable distance behind the party on their return with Capt. C. they attempted to take the dog from him and pushed him out of the road. he had nothing to defend himself with except a large knife which he drew with an intention of puting one or both of them to death before they could get themselves in readiness to use their arrows, but discovering his design they declined the combat and instantly fled through the woods. three of this same tribe of villains the Wah-clel-lars, stole my dog this evening, and took him towards their village; I was shortly afterwards informed of this transaction by an indian who spoke the Clatsop language, and sent three men in pursuit of the theives with orders if they made the least resistence or difficulty in surrendering the dog to fire on them; they overtook these fellows or reather came within sight of them at the distance of about 2 miles; the indians discovering the party in pursuit of them left the dog and fled. they also stole an ax from us, but scarcely had it in their possession before Thompson detected them and wrest it from them. we ordered the centinel to keep them out of camp, and informed them by signs that if they made any further attempts to steal our property or insulted our men we should put them to instant death. a cheif of the Clah-clel-lah tribe informed us that there were two very bad men among the Wah-clel-lahs who had been the principal actors in these seenes of outradge of which we complained, and that it was not the wish of the nation by any means to displease us. we told him that we hoped it might be the case, but we should certainly be as good as our words if they presisted in their insolence. I am convinced that no other consideration but our number at this moment protects us. The Cheif appeared mortified at the conduct of his people, and seemed friendly disposed towards us. as he appeared to be a man of consideration and we had reason to beleive much rispected by the neighbouring tribes we thought it well to bestoe a medal of small size upon him. he appeared much gratifyed with this mark of distinction, and some little attention which we shewed him. he had in his possession a very good pipe tomahawk which he informed us he had received as a present from a trader who visited him last winter over land pointing to the N. W., whome he called Swippeton; he was pleased with the tommahawk of Capt. C. in consequence of it's having a brass bowl and Capt. C. gratified him by an exchange. as a further proof of his being esteemed by this white trader, he gave us a well baked saylor's bisquit which he also informed us he had received from Swippeton. from these evidences I have no doubt but the traders who winter in some of the inlets to the N. of us visit this part of the Columbia by land at certain seasons, most probably when they are confined to their winter harbour. and if so some of those inlets are probably at no great distance from this place, as there seems to be but little inducement to intice the trader hither from any considerable distance particularly as the difficulty in traveling on the borders of this mountainous country must be great at that season as the natives informed me their snows were frequently breast deep. I observe snowshoes in all the lodges of the natives above the Columbean vally. I hope that the friendly interposition of this chief may prevent our being compelled to use some violence with these people; our men seem well disposed to kill a few of them. we keep ourselves perefectly on our guard. This evening we send Drewyer and the two Feildses on a few miles up the river to the entrance of Cruzatt's river to hunt untill our arrival. The inhabitants of the Y-eh-huh Village on the North side immediately above the rapids have lately removed to the opposite side of the river, where it appears they usually take their salmon. like their relations the Wah-Clel-lars they have taken their houses with them. I observe that all the houses lately established have their floors on the surface of the earth, are smaller and of more temperary structure than those which are sunk in the ground. I presume the former are their spring and Summer dwellings and the latter those of the fall and winter. these houses are most generally built with boards and covered with bark. some of an inferior ore more temperary cast are built entirely of cedar bark, which is kept smooth and extended by inserting small splinters of wood through the bark crosswise at the distance of 12 or 14 inches assunder. several families inhabit the same appartment. their women as well as those of the 3 villages next below us pierce the cartelage of the nose and insert various ornaments. they very seldom imprint any figures on their skins; a few I observed had one or two longitudinal lines of dots on the front of the leg, reaching from the ankle upwards about midleg. most of their women braid their hair in two tresses as before mentioned. the men usually cew their hair in two parsels which like the braded tresses of the female hang over each ear in front of the sholder, and gives an additional width to the head and face so much admired by them. these cews are usually formed with throngs of dressed Otterskin crossing each other and not roled in our manner arrond the hair. in all other rispects I observe no difference in their dress habits manners &c. from those in the Neighbourhood of the diamond Island. today we recognized a man of the Elute nation who reside at the long narrows of the Columbia, he was on his return from a trading voyage to the Columbean valley with 10 or 12 others of his nation. many other natives from the villages above were employed in taking their roots &c over the portage on their return. I observed that the men equally with the women engage in the labour of carrying. they all left their canoes below the rapids and took others above which they had left as they decended. those which were left below were taken down the river by the persons from whom they had been hired or borrowed. the natives from above behaved themselves in a very orderly manner. The salmon have not yet made their appearance, tho the natives are not so much distressed for food as I was induced to believe. I walked down today about 3/4 of a mile below our encampment to observe the manner in which these people inter their dead. I found eight sepulchers near the north bank of the river built in the following manner. four strong forks are first sunk several feet in the ground and rise about six feet high, froming a parrallelogram of 8 by 10 feet. the intervals between these upright forks, on which four poles are laid, are filled up with broad erect boards with their lower ends sunk in the ground and their upper ends confined to the horizontal poles. a flat roof is formed of several layers of boards; the floors of these sepulchres are on a level with the surface of the earth. the human bodies are well rolled in dressed skins and lashed securely with chords and laid horizontaly on the back with the head to the west. in some of these sepulchres they are laid on each other to the debth of three or four bodies. in one of those sepulchres which was nearly decayed I observed that the human bones filled it perfectly to the hight of about three feet. many articles appear to be sacreficed to the dead both within and without the sepulcres. among other articles, I observed a brass teakettle, some scollep shells, parts of several robes of cloth and skins, with sticks for diging roots &c.- this appears to be the burying ground of the Wahclellahs, Clahclellahs and Yehhuhs.