The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Clark, January 14, 1806
Clark, January 14, 1806
Tuesday 14th January 1806
This morning the Serjt. of the guard reported the absence of one of our Canoes it had broken the Cord by which it was attached and the tide had taken her off; we Sent a party imediately in Serch of her, they returned in about 3 hours haveing fortunately found her. we now derect that 3 of the canoes be drawed up out of reach of the tide and the 4th to be tied with a long Strong Cord of Elk Skins, ready for use. had we lost this large Canoe we Should have been obliged to make 3 other Small ones, which with the fiew tools we have now left would be a Serious undertakeing. a fatiege of Six men employd in jurking the Elk beef. From the best estermate we were enabled to make as we decended the Columbia we Conceived that the nativs inhabiting that noble Stream (from the enterance of Lewis's river to the neighbourhood of the falls the nativs Consume all the fish they Catch either for food or fuel) From Tow ar ne hi ooks River or a fiew mils above the Great falls to the grand rapids inclusive anually prepare about 30,000 lbs of pounded fish (Chiefly Salmon) for market, but whether this fish is an article of Commerce with their neighbours or is exclusively Sold to, and Consumed by the nativs of the Sea coast, we are at a loss to determine the latter of those positions I am dispose to credit most, as I cannot imagine what the white merchents objet Could be in purchaseing fish, or where they Could dispose of it. on the other hand the Indians in this neighbourhood as well as the Skillutes and those above have an abundance of Dryed Salmon which they take in the Creeks and inlets. they are excessively fond of the pounded fish haveing frequently asked us for Some of it-. the Indians who prepared this pounded fish made Signs that they traded it with people below them for Beeds and trinkets &c and Showed us maney articles of European manufacture which they obtained for it; The Skillutes and Indians about the great rapids are the intermediate merchants and Carryers, and no doubt Consume a part of this fish themselves and dispose of the ballance of it to the nativs of the Sea coast, and from this obtain Such articles as they again trade with the whites.
The persons who usially visit the enterence of this river for the purpose of traffic or hunting, I believe is either English or Americans; the Indians inform us that they Speak the Same language with our Selves, and gave us proofs of their varacity by repeating maney words of English, Sun of a pitch &c. whether those traders are from Nootka Sound, from Some other late establishment on this Coast, or imediately from the U States or Great Brittain, I am at a loss to determine, nor Can the Indians inform us. the Indians whome I have asked in what direction the traders go when they depart from hence, allways point to the S. W. from which it is prosumeable that Nootka cannot be their distination, and from Indian information a majority of those traders annually visit them about the beginning of April and remain Some time and either remain or revisit them in the fall of which I cannot properly understand, from this Circumstance they Cannot Come directly from the U States or Great Brittain, the distance being to great for them to go and return in the ballance of a year. I am Sometimes induced to believe that there is Some other Establishment on the Coast of America South of this place of which little is but yet known to the world, or it may be perhaps on Some Island in the Pacific Ocian between the Continant of America & Asia to the S. W. of us. This traffic on the part of the whites Consist in vending, guns, principally old British or American Musquets, powder, balls and Shote, brass tea kettles, Blankets from two to three points, Scarlet and blue Cloth (Coarse), plates and Strips of Sheet Copper and brass, large brass wire Knives Beeds &Tobacco with fishing hooks, buttons and Some other Small articles; also a considerable quantity of Salors Clothes, as hats, Coats, Trouses and Shirts. for those they receive in return from the nativs Dressed and undressed Elk Skins, Skins of the Sea otter, Common Otter, beaver, common fox, Speck, and tiger Cat, also Some Salmon dried or pounded and a kind of buisket, which the nativs make of roots called by them Shappelell. The nativs are extravigantly fond of the most Common Cheap Blue and white beeds, of moderate Size, or Such that from 50 to 70 will way one pennyweight, the blue is usially prefured to the white; those beeds Constitute the principal Circulating medium with all the Indian tribes on this river; for those beeds they will dispose of any article they possess-. the beeds are Strung on Straps of a fathom in length & in that manner Sold by the breth or yard-.