The Journals of Lewis & Clark: August 17, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
August 16, 1805
August 18, 1805

August 17, 1805

Saturday August 17th 1805.

This morning I arrose very early and dispatched Drewyer and the Indian down the river. sent Shields to hunt. I made McNeal cook the remainder of our meat which afforded a slight breakfast for ourselves and the Cheif. Drewyer had been gone about 2 hours when an Indian who had straggled some little distance down the river returned and reported that the whitemen were coming, that he had seen them just below. they all appeared transported with joy, & the chef repeated his fraturnal hug. I felt quite as much gratifyed at this information as the Indians appeared to be. Shortly after Capt. Clark arrived with the Interpreter Charbono, and the Indian woman, who proved to be a sister of the Chif Cameahwait. the meeting of those people was really affecting, particularly between Sah cah-gar-we-ah and an Indian woman, who had been taken prisoner at the same time with her, and who had afterwards escaped from the Minnetares and rejoined her nation. At noon the Canoes arrived, and we had the satisfaction once more to find ourselves all together, with a flattering prospect of being able to obtain as many horses shortly as would enable us to prosicute our voyage by land should that by water be deemed unadvisable.

We now formed our camp just below the junction of the forks on the Lard. side in a level smooth bottom covered with a fine terf of greenswoard. here we unloaded our canoes and arranged our baggage on shore; formed a canopy of one of our large sails and planted some willow brush in the ground to form a shade for the Indians to set under while we spoke to them, which we thought it best to do this evening. acordingly about 4 P.M. we called them together and through the medium of Labuish, Charbono and Sah-cah-gar-weah, we communicated to them fully the objects which had brought us into this distant part of the country, in which we took care to make them a conspicuous object of our own good wishes and the care of our government. we made them sensible of their dependance on the will of our government for every species of merchandize as well for their defence & comfort; and apprized them of the strength of our government and it's friendly dispositions towards them. we also gave them as a reason why we wished to petrate the country as far as the ocean to the west of them was to examine and find out a more direct way to bring merchandize to them. that as no trade could be carryed on with them before our return to our homes that it was mutually advantageous to them as well as to ourselves that they should render us such aids as they had it in their power to furnish in order to haisten our voyage and of course our return home. that such were their horses to transport our baggage without which we could not subsist, and that a pilot to conduct us through the mountains was also necessary if we could not decend the river by water. but that we did not ask either their horses or their services without giving a satisfactory compensation in return. that at present we wished them to collect as many horses as were necessary to transport our baggage to their village on the Columbia where we would then trade with them at our leasure for such horses as they could spare us.- They appeared well pleased with what had been said. the chief thanked us for friendship towards himself and nation & declared his wish to serve us in every rispect; that he was sorry to find that it must yet be some time before they could be furnished with firearms but said they could live as they had done heretofore untill we brought them as we had promised. he said they had not horses enough with them at present to remove our baggage to their village over the mountain, but that he would return tomorrow and encourage his people to come over with their horses and that he would bring his own and assist us. this was complying with all we wished at present. we next enquired who were chiefs among them. Cameahwait pointed out two others whom he said were Chiefs we gave him a medal of the small size with the likeness of Mr. Jefferson the President of the U States in releif on one side and clasp hands with a pipe and tomahawk on the other, to the other Chiefs we gave each a small medal which were struck in the Presidency of George Washing Esqr. we also gave small medals of the last discription to two young men whom the 1st Chief informed us wer good young men and much rispected among them. we gave the 1st Chief an uniform coat shirt a pair of scarlet legings a carrot of tobacco and some small articles to each of the others we gave a shirt leging handkerchief a knife some tobacco and a few small articles we also distributed a good quantity paint mockerson awls knives beads lookingglasses &c among the other Indians and gave them a plentifull meal of lyed corn which was the first they had ever eaten in their lives. they were much pleased with it. every article about us appeared to excite astonishment in ther minds; the appearance of the men, their arms, the canoes, our manner of working them, the back man york and the segacity of my dog were equally objects of admiration. I also shot my air-gun which was so perfectly incomprehensible that they immediately denominated it the great medicine. the idea which the indians mean to convey by this appellation is something that eminates from or acts immediately by the influence or power of the great sperit; or that in which the power of god is manifest by it's incomprehensible power of action. our hunters killed 4 deer and an Antelope this evening of which we also gave the Indians a good proportion. the cerimony of our council and smoking the pipe was in conformity of the custom of this nation perfomed bearfoot. on those occasions points of etiquet are quite as much attended to by the Indians as among scivilized nations. To keep indians in a good humour you must not fatiegue them with too much business at one time. therefore after the council we gave them to eat and amused them a while by shewing them such articles as we thought would be entertaining to them, and then renewed our enquiries with rispect to the country. the information we derived was only a repetition of that they had given me before and in which they appeared to be so candid that I could not avoid yealing confidence to what they had said. Capt. Clark and myself now concerted measures for our future operations, and it was mutually agreed that he should set out tomorrow morning with eleven men furnished with axes and other necessary tools for making canoes, their arms accoutrements and as much of their baggage as they could carry. also to take the indians Carbono and the indian woman with him; that on his arrival at the Shoshone camp he was to leave Charbono and the Indian woman to haisten the return of the Indians with their horses to this place, and to proceede himself with the eleven men down the Columbia in order to examine the river and if he found it navigable and could obtain timber to set about making canoes immediately. In the mean time I was to bring on the party and baggage to the Shoshone Camp, calculating that by the time I should reach that place that he would have sufficiently informed himself with rispect to the state of the river &c. as to determine us whether to prosicute our journey from thence by land or water. in the former case we should want all the horses which we could perchase, the latter only to hire the Indians to transport our baggage to the place at which we made the canoes. in order to inform me as early as possible of the state of the river he was to send back one of the men with the necessary information as soon as he should satisfy himself on this subject. this plan being settled we gave orders accordingly and the men prepared for an early march. the nights are very cold and the sun excessively hot in the day. we have no fuel here but a few dry willow brush. and from the appearance of country I am confident we shall not find game here to subsist us many days. these are additional reasons why I conceive it necessary to get under way as soon as possible.- this morning Capt. Clark had delayed untill 7 A.M. before he set out just about which time Drewyer arrived with the Indian; he left the canoes to come on after him, and immediately set out and joined me as has been before mentioned.The sperits of the men were now much elated at the prospect of geting horses.

August 17th Satturday 1805

a fair Cold morning wind S. W. the Thermometer at 42 a. 0 at Sunrise, We Set out at 7 oClock and proceeded on to the forks I had not proceeded on one mile before I saw at a distance Several Indians on horsback Comeing towards me, The Intertrepeter & Squar who were before me at Some distance danced for the joyful Sight, and She made signs to me that they were her nation, as I aproached nearer them descovered one of Capt Lewis party With them dressed in their Dress; the met me with great Signs of joy, as the Canoes were proceeding on nearly opposit me I turned those people & joined Capt Lewis who had Camped with 16 of those Snake Indians at the forks 2 miles in advance. those Indians Sung all the way to their Camp where the others had provd. a cind of Shade of Willows Stuck up in a Circle the Three Chiefs with Capt. Lewis met me with great cordialliaty embraced and took a Seat on a white robe, the Main Chief imedeately tied to my hair Six Small pieces of Shells resembling perl which is highly Valued by those people and is prcured from the nations resideing near the Sea Coast. we then Smoked in their fassion without Shoes and without much cerimoney and form.

Capt Lewis informed me he found those people on the Columbia River about 40 miles from the forks at that place there was a large camp of them, he had purswaded those with him to Come and See that what he said was the truth, they had been under great apprehension all the way, for fear of their being deceived. The Great Chief of this nation proved to be the brother of the Woman with us and is a man of Influence Sence & easey & reserved manners, appears to possess a great deel of Cincerity. The Canoes arrived & unloaded- every thing appeared to asstonish those people. the appearance of the men, their arms, the Canoes, the Clothing my black Servent. & the Segassity of Capt Lewis's Dog. we Spoke a fiew words to them in the evening respecting our rout intentions our want of horses &c. & gave them a fiew presents & medals- we made a number of inquires of those people about the Columbia River the Countrey game &c. The account they gave us was verry unfavourable, that the River abounded in emence falls, one perticularly much higher than the falls of the Missouri & at the place the mountains Closed So Close that it was impracticable to pass, & that the ridge Continued on each Side of perpendicular Clifts inpenetratable, and that no Deer Elk or any game was to be found in that Countrey, aded to that they informed us that there was no timber on the river Sufficiently large to make Small Canoes, This information (if true is alarming) I deturmined to go in advance and examine the Countrey, See if those dificueltes presented themselves in the gloomey picture in which they painted them, and if the river was practiable and I could find timber to build Canoes, those Ideas & plan appeard to be agreeable to Capt Lewis's Ideas on this point, and I selected 11 men, directed them to pack up their baggage Complete themselves with amunition, take each an ax and Such tools as will be Soutable to build Canoes, and be ready to Set out at 10 oClock tomorrow morning. Those people greatly pleased our hunters killed three Deer & an antilope which was eaten in a Short time the Indians being so harrassed & compelled to move about in those rugid mountains that they are half Starved liveing at this time on berries & roots which they geather in the plains. Those people are not begerley but generous, only one has asked me for anything and he for powder.

This nation Call themselves Cho-shop-ne the Chief is name Too-et-te-con'l Black Gun is his war name Ka-me-ah-wah- or Come & Smoke. this Chief gave me the following name and pipe Ka-me-ah-wah.