The Journals of Lewis & Clark: April 20, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
April 19, 1805
April 21, 1805

April 20, 1805

Saturday April 20th 1805.

The wind continued to blow tolerably hard this morning but by no means as violently as it (lid yesterday; we determined to set out and accordingly departed a little before seven. I walked on shore on the N. side of the river, and Capt Clark proceeded with the party. the river bottoms through which I passed about seven miles were fertil and well covered with Cottonwood some Box alder, ash and red Elm. the under brush, willow, rose bushes Honeysuccle, red willow, goosbury, currant and servicebury & in the open grounds along the foot of the river hills immence quantities of the hisop. in the course of my walk I killed two deer, wounded an Elk and a deer; saw the remains of some Indian hunting camps, near which stood a small scaffold of about 7 feet high on which were deposited two doog slays with their harnis. underneath this scaffold a human body was lying, well rolled in several dressed buffaloe skins and near it a bag of the same materials containg sundry articles belonging to the disceased; consisting of a pare of mockersons, some red and blue earth, beaver's nails, instruments for dressing the Buffalo skin, some dryed roots, several platts of the sweet grass, and a small quantity of Mandan tobacco.- I presume that the body, as well as the bag containing these articles, had formerly been placed on the scaffold as is the custom of these people, but had fallen down by accedent. near the scaffold I saw the carcase of a large dog not yet decayed, which I supposed had been killed at the time the human body was left on the scaffold; this was no doubt the reward, which the poor doog had met with for performing the ____-friendly office to his mistres of transporting her corps to the place of deposit. it is customary with the Assinniboins, Mandans, Minetares &c who scaffold their dead, to sacrefice the favorite horses and doggs of their disceased relations, with a view of their being servicable to them in the land of sperits. I have never heard of any instances of human sacrefices on those occasions among them.

The wind blew so hard that I concluded it was impossible fror the perogues and canoes to proceed and therefore returned and joined them about three in the evening. Capt. Clark informed me that soon after seting out, a part of the bank of the river fell in near one of the canoes and had very nearly filled her with water. that the wind became so hard and the waves so high that it was with infinite risk he had been able to get as far as his present station. the white perrogue and several of the canoes had shiped water several times but happily our stores were but little injured; those which were wet we put out to dry and determined to remain untill the next morning. we sent out four hunters who soon added 3 Elk 4 gees and 2 deer to our stock of provisions. the party caught six beaver today which were large and in fine order. the Buffaloe, Elk and deer are poor at this season, and of tours are not very palitable, however our good health and apetites make up every necessary deficiency, and we eat very heartily of them.- encamped on Stard side; under a high well timbered bank.

20th of April Satturday 1805

wind a head from the N W. we Set out at 7 oClock proceeded on, Soon after we Set out a Bank fell in near one of the Canoes which like to have filled her with water, the wind became hard and waves So rought that we proceeded with our little Canoes with much risque, our Situation was Such after Setting out that we were obliged to pass round the 1st Point or lay exposed to the blustering winds & waves, in passing round the Point Several canoes took in water as also our large Perogue but without injuring our Stores & much I proceeded on to the upper part of the 1st bend and came too at a butifull Glade on the S. S., about 1 mile below Capt Lewis who had walked thro the point, left his Coat & a Deer on the bank which we took on board,-. a Short distance below our Camp I Saw Some rafts on the S. S. near which, an Indian woman was Scaffeled in the Indian form of Deposing their dead, & fallen down She was or had been raised about 6 feet inclosed in Several robes tightly laced around her, with her dog Slays, her bag of Different coloured earths paint Small bones of animals beaver nales and Several other little trinkets, also a blue jay, her dog was killed and lay near her. Capt. Lewis joined me Soon after I landed & informed me he has walked Several miles higher, & in his walk killed 2 Deer & wounded an Elk & a Deer, our party Shot in the river four beaver & cought two, which were verry fat and much admired by the men, after we landed they killed 3 Elk 4 Gees & 2 Deer we had Some of our Provisions & which got a little wet aired, the wind Continued So hard that we were Compelled to delay all day. Saw Several buffalow lodged in the drift wood which had been drouned in the winter in passing the river; Saw the remains of 2 which had lodged on the Side of the bank & eate by the bears.

This morning was verry cold, Some Snow about 2 oClock from flying clouds, Some frost this morning & the mud at the edge of the water was frosed