The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, May 31, 1806

Lewis, May 31, 1806

Saturday May 31st 1806. Goodrich and Willard visited the indian Villages this morning and returned in the evening. Willard brought with him the dressed skin of a bear which he had purchased for Capt. C. this skin was an uniform pale redish brown colour, the indians informed us that it was not the Hoh-host or white bear, that it was the Yack-kah. this distinction of the indians induced us to make further enquiry relative to their opinons of the several speceis of bear in this country. we produced the several skins of the bear which we had killed at this place and one very nearly white which I had purchased. The white, the deep and plale red grizzle, the dark bron grizzle, and all those which had the extremities of the hair of a white or frosty colour without regard to the colour of the ground of the poil, they designated Hoh-host and assured us that they were the same with the white bear, that they ascosiated together, were very vicisious, never climbed the trees, and had much longer nails than the others. the black skins, those which were black with a number of intire white hairs intermixed, the black with a white breast, the uniform bey, brown and light redish brown, they designated the Yack-kah;-said that they climbed the trees, had short nails and were not vicious, that they could pursue them and kill them with safety, they also affirmed that they were much smaller than the white bear. I am disposed to adopt the Indian distinction with rispect to these bear and consider them two distinct speceis. the white and the grizzly of this neighbourhood are the same of those found on the upper portion of the Missouri where the other speceis are not, and that the uniform redish brown black &c of this neighbourhood are a speceis distinct from our black bear and from the black bear of the Pacific coast which I believe to be the same with those of the Atlantic coast, and that the common black bear do not exist here. I had previously observed that the claws of some of the bear which we had killed here had much shorter tallons than the variagated or white bear usually have but supposed that they had woarn them out by scratching up roots, and these were those which the indians called Yak-kah. on enquiry I found also that a cub of an uniform redish brown colour, pup to a female black bear intermixed with entire white hairs had climbed a tree. I think this a distinct speceis from the common black bear, because we never find the latter of any other colour than an uniform black, and also that the poil of this bear is much finer thicker and longer with a greater proportion of fur mixed with the hair, in other ispects they are much the same.- This evening Joseph and R. Feilds returned with the three deer which they had killed. The Indians brought us another of our origional Stock of horses; there are only two absent now of those horses, and these the indians inform us that our shoshone guide rode back when he returned. we have sixty five horses at this time, most of them in excellent order and fine strong active horses.-

The Indians pursued a mule deer to the river opposite to our camp this evening; the deer swam over and one of our hunters killed it. there being a large party of indians assembled on this occasion on the opposite side, Hohast-ill-pilp desired them to raise our canoe which was sunk on that side of the river yesterday; they made the attempt but were unable to effect it.