The Journals of Lewis & Clark: January 9, 1806
January 9, 1806
Friday January 9th 1806. Our men are now very much engaged in dressing Elk and Deer skins for mockersons and cloathing. the deer are extreemly scarce in this neighbourhood, some are to be found near the praries and open grounds along the coast. this evening we heard seven guns in quick succession after each other, they appeared to be on the Creek to the South of us and several miles distant; I expect that the hunters Drewyer and Collins have fallen in with a gang of Elk. some marrow bones and a little fresh meat would be exceptable; I have been living for two days past on poor dryed Elk, or jurk as the hunters term it.
The Clatsops Chinnooks &c. bury their dead in their canoes. for this purpose four pieces of split timber are set erect on end, and sunk a few feet in the grown, each brace having their flat sides opposite to each other and sufficiently far assunder to admit the width of the canoes in which the dead are to be deposited; through each of these perpendicular posts, at the hight of six feet a mortice is cut, through which two bars of wood are incerted; on these cross bars a small canoe is placed in which the body is laid after being carefully roled in a robe of some dressed skins; a paddle is also deposited with them; a larger canoe is now reversed, overlaying and imbracing the small one, and resting with it's gunwals on the cross bars; one or more large mats of rushes or flags are then roled around the canoes and the whole securely lashed with a long cord, usually made of the bark of the Arbor vita or white cedar. on the cross bars which support the canoes is frequently hung or laid various articles of cloathing culinary eutensels &c. I cannot understand them sufficiently to make any enquiries relitive to their religeous opinions, but presume from their depositing various articles with their dead, that they believe in a state of future existence.
The persons who usually visit the entrance of this river for the purpose of traffic or hunting I believe are either English or Americans; the Indians inform us that they speak the same language with ourselves, and give us proofs of their varacity by repeating many words of English, as musquit, powder, shot, nife, file, damned rascal, sun of a bitch &c. whether these traders are from Nootka sound, from some other late establishment on this coast, or immediately from the U States or Great Brittain, I am at a loss to determine, nor can the Indians inform us. the Indians whom I have asked in what direction the traders go when they depart from hence, or arrive here, always point to the S. W. from which it is presumeable that Nootka cannot be their destination; and as from Indian information a majority of these traders annually visit them about the beginning of April and remain with them six or seven Months, they cannot come immediately from Great Britain or the U States, the distance being too great for them to go and return in the ballance of the year. from this circumstance I am sometimes induced to believe that there is some other establishment on the coast of America south West of this place of which little is but yet known to the world, or it may be perhaps on some Island in the pacific ocean between the Continents of Asia and America to the South West of us. This traffic on the part of the whites consists in vending, guns, (principally old british or American musquits) powder, balls and Shot, Copper and brass kettles, brass teakettles and coffee pots, blankets from two to three point, scarlet and blue Cloth (coarse), plates and strips of sheet copper and brass, large brass wire, knives, beads and tobacco with fishinghooks buttons and some other small articles; also a considerable quantity of Sailor's cloaths, as hats coats, trowsers and shirts. for these they receive in return from the natives, dressed and undressed Elkskins, skins of the sea Otter, common Otter, beaver, common fox, spuck, and tiger cat; also dryed and pounded sammon in baskets, and a kind of buisquit, which the natives make of roots called by them shappelell. The natives are extravegantly fond of the most common cheap blue and white beads, of moderate size, or such that from 50 to 70 will weigh one penneyweight. the blue is usually pefered to the white; these beads constitute the principal circulating medium with all the indian tribes on this river; for these beads they will dispose any article they possess.- the beads are strung on strans of a fathom in length and in that manner sold by the bredth or yard.-
January 9th Thursday 1806
a fine morning wind N E Set out at day lighte every man Some meat of the whale and a little oile proceded on the track we Came out to a house at a branch where we halted 1/2 an hour to rest this house is at at place an old village has formerly been, on the Coast at the Comencment ____ 27 foot wide 35 feet long Sunk in the ground 5 feet 2 Dotes & 2 fire places dotes 29 Ins. high & 141/4 wide handsom Steps to decend down a post in the middle Coverede with boards Split thin an 2 feet wide, old grave in Canoes of 3 feet 8 Inches wide & 5 feet long neetly made high at bow proceded on to the top of the hill Passing 3 bad points rockey &. from the Point Clarks Point of view Cape Disapt. bears S. 12° E passing a Great point at 15 miles one at 40 miles rocks out to the 1st large point from the Creek 4 points, between the 1st large Point and 2d a point of many large rocks, Day Clouded up, I can See a point Bearing N 5° East along way just in Sight. from Clarks View Point to Cape Disapointment is N 20° W. To point adams &the open Slope point is North and a Sharp point, met a party of Chinnooks going to get whale blubber to eate & oile each of which they eate together, we also over took Several parties of the Clot Sops loaded with imence laods of the blubber and oile maney of those loads I with difficuelty raised, Estonishing what custom will do. at 2 oClock we arrived at the Camp of our Salt makers verry much fatigued, more So than I ever was before, the Indians all proceeded on, I concluded to Stay all night, as the party was much fatigued, and Send out 2 men which I had left here to hunt Ducks up the little river, Jo. Fields had killed an Elk and brought in a quarter on which we Dined he also had killed & brought in a Deer. The Indians with the oile & bluber tole me they had to purchase of the Ca-le nixx and would Come to the fort & Sell to us in 3 Days time, this I incouraged, as I expect to purchase at the fort as cheep as at the village at which I was, day proved fine. rained the greater part of the night I went into an Indian Lodge they were pore Durty and the house full of flees. he offered me roots which they geather on the Sea Cost a kind of rush, of which they offered me to eate,
Thursday 9th of January 1806
a fine morning wind from the N. E. last night about 10 oClock while Smokeing with the nativ's I was alarmed by a loud Srile voice from the Cabins on the opposite Side, the Indians all run immediately across to the village, my guide who Continued with me made Signs that Some one's throat was Cut, by enquiry I found that one man McNeal was absent, I imediately Sent off Sergt. N. Pryor & 4 men in quest of McNeal who they met comeing across the Creak in great hast, and informed me that the people were alarmed on the opposit Side at Something but what he could not tell, a man had verry friendly envited him to go and eate in his lodge, that the Indian had locked armes with him and went to a lodge in which a woman gave him Some blubber, that the man envited him to another lodge to get Something better, and the woman held him by the blanket which he had around him another ran out and hollow'd and his pretended friend disapeared- I emediately ordered every man to hold themselves in a State of rediness and Sent Sergt. Pryor & 4 men to know the cause of the alarm which was found to be a premeditated plan of the pretended friend of McNeal to assanate for his Blanket and what fiew articles he had about him, which was found out by a Chin nook woman who allarmed the men of the village who were with me in time to prevent the horred act. this man was of another band at Some distance and ran off as Soon as he was discovered. we have now to look back and Shudder at the dreadfull road on which we have to return of 45 miles S E of Point adams & 35 miles from Fort Clatsop. I had the blubber & oil divided among the party and Set out about Sunrise and returned by the Same rout we had went out, met Several parties of men & womin of the Chinnook and Clatsops nations, on their way to trade with the Kil a mox for blubber and oil; on the Steep decent of the Mountain I overtook five men and Six womin with emence loads of the Oil and blubber of the Whale, those Indians had passed by Some rout by which we missed them as we went out yesterday; one of the women in the act of getting down a Steep part of the mountain her load by Some means had Sliped off her back, and She was holding the load by a Strap which was fastened to the mat bag in which it was in, in one hand and holding a bush by the other, as I was in front of my party, I endeavored to relieve this woman by takeing her load untill She Could get to a better place a little below, & to my estonishment found the load as much as I Could lift and must exceed 100 wt. the husband of this woman who was below Soon came to her releif, those people proceeded on with us to the Salt works, at which place we arrived late in the evening, found them without meat, and 3 of the Party J. Field Gibson & Shannon out hunting. as I was excessively fatigued and my party appeared verry much so, I deturmined to Stay untill the morning and rest our Selves a little. The Clatsops proceeded on with their lodes- The Clatsops, Chin nooks Kil a mox &c. are verry loquacious and inquisitive; they possess good memories and have repeeted to us the names capasities of the Vessels &c of maney traders and others who have visited the mouth of this river; they are generally low in Statue, proportionably Small, reather lighter complected and much more illy formed than the Indians of the Missouri and those of our fronteers; they are generally Chearfull but never gay. with us their Conversation generally turns upon the subject of trade, Smokeing, eating or their womin; about the latter, they Speak without reserve in their presence, of their every part, and of the most farmiliar Connection. they do not hold the virtue of their womin in high estimation, and will even prostitute their wives and Daughters for a fishing hook or a Stran of beeds. in Common with other Savage nations they make their womin perform every Species of domestic drugery; but in almost every Species of this drugery the men also participate. their woman are compelled to gather roots, and assist them in takeing fish; which articles form much the greater part of their Subsistance; notwithstanding the Survile manner in which they treat their womin they pay much more respect to their judgement and oppinion in maney respects than most indian nations; their womin are permited to Speak freely before them, and Sometimes appear to command with a tone of authority; they generally consult them in their traffic and act conformably to their opinions.
I think it may be established as a general maxim that those nations treat their old people and women with most defference and respect where they Subsist principally on Such articles that these can participate with the men in obtaining them; and that, that part of the Community are treated with least attention, when the act of precureing subsistance devolves intirely on the men in the vigor of life. It appears to me that nature has been much more deficient in her filial ties than in any others of the Strong effections of the humane heart, and therefore think our old men equally with our woman indebted to Sivilization for their ease and Comfort. I am told among the Sioux's, Assinniboins and others on the Missouri who Subsist by hunting it is a Custom when a person of either Sex becoms So old and infirm that they are unable to travel on foot, from Camp to Camp as they rove in serch of Subsistance, for the Children or near relations of Such person to leave them without Compunction or remorse; on those occasions they usially place within their reach a Small piece of meat and a platter of water, telling the poor old Superannuated retch for their Consolation, that he or She had lived long enough, and that it was time they Should die and go to their relations who Can afford to take Care of them, much better than they Could. I am informed that the Me ne tar es Ar war har mays and Ricares when attended by their old people on their hunting expedition prosued the Same Custom; but injustice to those people I must observe that it appeared to me at their villages, that they provided tolerably well for their aged persons, and Several of their feasts appear to have principally for their object a contribution for their aged and infirm persons. In one of the Mandan villages I Saw an old man to whome I gave a knife and enquired his age, he Said he had Seen more than 100 winters, and that he Should Soon go down the river to their old village- he requested I would give him Something to prevent the pain in his back his grand Son a Young man rebuked the old man and Said it was not worth while, that it was time for the old man to die. the old man occupied one Side of the fire and was furnished with plenty of Covouring and food, and every attention appeared to be paid him &c. Jo. Field in my absence had killed an Elk and a Deer, brought in the Deer and half of the Elk on a part of which we Suped, Some rain a little after dark. I visited a house near the Salt boilers found it inhabited by 2 families, they were pore dirty and their house Sworming with flees.-