Lewis, April 14, 1805
Sunday April 14th 1805.
One of the hunters saw an Otter last evening and shot at it, but missed it. a dog came to us this morning, which we supposed to have been lost by the Indians who were recently encamped near the lake that we passed yesterday. the mineral appearances of salts, coal and sulpher, together with birnt hills & pumicestone still continue.- while we remained at the entrance of the little Missouri, we saw several pieces of pumice stone floating down that stream, a considerable quanty of which had lodged against a point of drift wood a little above it's entrance. Capt. Clark walked on shore this morning, and on his return informed me that he had passed through the timbered bottoms on the N. side of the river, and had extended his walk several miles back on the hills; in the bottom lands he had met with several uninhabited Indian lodges built with the boughs of the Elm, and in the plains he met with the remains of two large encampments of a recent date, which from the appearance of some hoops of small kegs, seen near them we concluded that they must have been the camps of the Assinniboins, as no other nation who visit this part of the missouri ever indulge themselves with spirituous liquor. of this article the Assinniboins are pationately fond, and we are informed that it forms their principal inducement to furnish the British establishments on the Assinniboin river with the dryed and pounded meat and grease which they do. they also supply those establishments with a small quantity of fur, consisting principally of the large and small wolves and the small fox skins. these they barter for small kegs of ruin which they generally transport to their camps at a distance from the establishments, where they revel with their friends and relations as long as they possess the means of intoxication, their women and children are equally indulged on those occations and are all seen drunk together. so far is a state of intoxication from being a cause of reproach among them, that with the men, it is a matter of exultation that their skill and industry as hunters has enabled them to get drunk frequently. in their customs, habits, and dispositions these people very much resemble the Siouxs from whom they have descended. The principal inducement with the British fur companies, for continuing their establishments on the Assinniboin river, is the Buffaloe meat and grease they procure from the Assinniboins, and Christanoes, by means of which, they are enabled to supply provision to their engages on their return from rainy Lake to the English river and the Athabaskey country where they winter; without such resource those voyagers would frequently be straitened for provision, as the country through which they pass is but scantily supplyed with game, and the rappidity with which they are compelled to travel in order to reach their winter stations, would leave therm but little leasure to surch for food while on their voyage.
The Assinniboins have so recently left this neighbourhood, that the game is scarce and very shy. the river continues wide, and not more rapid than the Ohio in an averge state of it's current. the bottoms are wide and low, the moister parts containing some timber; the upland is extreemly broken, chonsisting of high gaulded nobs as far as the eye can reach on ether side, and entirely destitute of timber. on these hills many aromatic herbs are seen; resembling in taste, smel and appearance, the sage, hysop, wormwood, southernwood and two other herbs which are strangers to me; the one resembling the camphor in taste and smell, rising to the hight of 2 or 3 feet; the other about the same size, has a long, narrow, smooth, soft leaf of an agreeable smel and flavor; of this last the Atelope is very fond; they feed on it, and perfume the hair of their foreheads and necks with it by rubing against it. the dwarf cedar and juniper is also found in great abundance on the sides of these hills. where the land is level, it is uniformly fertile consisting of a dark loam intermixed with a proportion of fine sand. it is generally covered with a short grass resembling very much the blue grass.- the miniral appearances still continue; considerable quantities of bitumenous water, about the colour of strong lye trickles down the sides of the hills; this water partakes of the taste of glauber salts and slightly of allumn.- while the party halted to take dinner today Capt Clark killed a buffaloe bull; it was meagre, and we therefore took the marrow bones and a small proportion of the meat only. near the place we dined on the Lard. side, there was a large village of burrowing squirrels. I have remarked that these anamals generally celect a South Easterly exposure for their residence, tho they are sometimes found in the level plains.- passed an Island, above which two small creeks fall in on Lard side; the upper creek largest, which we called Sharbono's Creek after our interpreter who encamped several weeks on it with a hunting party of Indians. this was the highest point to which any whiteman had ever ascended; except two Frenchmen who having lost their way had straggled a few miles further, tho to what place precisely I could not learn.- I walked on shore above this creek and killed an Elk, which was so poor that it was unfit for uce; I therefore left it, and joined the party at their encampment on the Stard shore a little after dark. on my arrival Capt Clark informed me that he had seen two white bear pass over the hills shortly after I fired, and that they appeared to run nearly from the place where I shot. the lard. shore on which I walked was very broken, and the hills in many places had the appearance of having sliped down in masses of several acres of land in surface.- we saw many gees feeding on the tender grass in the praries and several of their nests in the trees; we have not in a single instance found the nest of this bird on or near the ground. we saw a number of Magpies their nests and eggs. their nests are built in trees and composed of small sticks leaves and grass, open at top, and much in the stile of the large blackbird comm to the U States. the egg is of a bluish brown colour, freckled with redish brown spots. one of the party killed a large hooting owl. I observed no difference between this burd and those of the same family common to the U States, except that this appeared to be more booted and more thickly clad with feathers.-