Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1804 - Part Four
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: August 25, 1804 - August 31, 1804

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates August 25, 1804 - August 31, 1804.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates August 25, 1804 - August 31, 1804

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1804
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 25, 1804 - August 31, 1804
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: August 25, 1804 - August 31, 1804

August 25, 1804
August 25. Captains Lewis and Clarke, with ten men, went to see an object deemed very extraordinary among all the neighboring Indians. They dropped down to the mouth of Whitestone river, about thirty yards wide, where they left the boat, and at the distance of two hundred yards, ascended a rising ground, from which a plain extended itself as far as the eye could discern. After walking four miles, they crossed the creek where it is twenty-three yards wide, and waters an extensive valley. The heat was so oppressive that we were obliged to send back our dog to the creek, as he was unable to bear the fatigue; and it was not till after four hours march that we reached the object of our visit. This was a large mound in the midst of the plain about N. 20 W. from the month of Whitestone river, from which it is nine miles distant. The base of the mound is a regular parallelogram, the longest side being about three hundred yards, the shorter sixty or seventy: from the longest side it rises with a steep ascent from the north and south to the height of sixty-five or seventy feet, leaving on the top a level plain of twelve feet in breadth and ninety in length. The north and south extremities are connected by two oval borders which serve as new bases, and divide the whole side into three steep but regular gradations from the plain. The only thing characteristic in this hill is its extreme symmetry, and this, together with its being totally detached from the other hills which are at the distance of eight or nine miles, would induce a belief that it was artificial; but, as the earth and the loose pebbles which compose it, are arranged exactly like the steep grounds on the borders of the creek, we concluded from this similarity of texture that it might be natural. But the Indians have made it a great article of their superstition: it is called the mountain of Little People, or Little Spirits, and they believe that it is the abode of little devils, in the human form, of about eighteen inches high and with remarkably large heads; they are armed with sharp arrows, with which they are very skilful, and are always on the watch to kill those who should have the hardihood to approach their residence.

The tradition is, that many have suffered from these little evil spirits, and among others, three Maha Indians fell a sacrifice to them a few years since. This has inspired all the neighboring nations, Sioux, Mahas, and Ottoes, with such terror, that no consideration could tempt them to visit the hill. We saw none of these wicked little spirits; nor any place for them, except some small holes scattered over the top: we were happy enough to escape their vengeance, though we remained some time on the mound to enjoy the delightful prospect of the plain, which spreads itself out till the eye rests upon the N.W. hills at a great distance, and those of N.E. still farther off, enlivened by large herds of buffalo feeding at a distance. The soil of these plains is exceedingly fine; there is, however, no timber except on the Missouri: all the wood of the Whitestone river not being sufficient to cover thickly one hundred acres. The plain country which surrounds this mound has contributed not a little to its bad reputation: the wind driving from every direction over the level ground obliges the insects to seek shelter on its leeward side, or be driven against us by the wind. The small birds, whose food they are, resort of course in great numbers in quest of subsistence; and the Indians always seem to discover an unusual assemblage of birds as produced by some supernatural cause: among them we observed the brown martin employed in looking for insects, and so gentle that they did not fly until we got within a few feet of them. We have also distinguished among numerous birds of the plain, the blackbird, the wren or prairie bird, and a species of lark about the size of a partridge, with a short tail.

The excessive heat and thirst forced us from the hill, about one o'clock, to the nearest water, which we found in the creek, at three miles distance, and remained an hour and a half. We then went down the creek, through a lowland about one mile in width, and crossed it three times, to the spot where we first reached it in the morning. Here we gathered some delicious plums, grapes and blue currants, and afterwards arrived at the mouth of the river about sunset. To this place the course from the mound is S. twenty miles, E. nine miles; we there resumed our pirogue, and on reaching our encampment of last night set the prairies on fire, to warn the Sioux of our approach. In the mean time, the boat under Sergeant Pryor had proceeded in the afternoon one mile, to a bluff of blue clay on the south, and after passing a sandbar and two sand islands fixed their camp at the distance of six miles on the south. In the evening some rain fell. We had killed a duck and several birds: in the boat, they had caught some large catfish.

August 26, 1804
Sunday, August 26. We rejoined the boat at nine o'clock before she set out, and then passing by an island, and under a cliff on the south, nearly two miles in extent and composed of white and blue earth, encamped at nine miles distance, on a sandbar towards the north. Opposite to this, on the south, is a small creek called Petit Arc or Little Bow, and a short distance above it, an old village of the same name. This village, of which nothing remains but the mound of earth about four feet high surrounding it, was built by a Maha chief named Little Bow, who being displeased with Blackbird, the late king, seceded with two hundred followers and settled at this spot, which is now abandoned, as the two [55]villages have reunited since the death of Blackbird. We have great quantities of grapes, and plums of three kinds; two of a yellow color, and distinguished by one of the species being longer than the other; and a third round and red: all have an excellent flavor, particularly those of the yellow kind.

August 27, 1804
August 27. The morning star appeared much larger than usual. A gentle breeze from the southeast carried us by some large sandbars, on both sides and in the middle of the river, to a bluff, on the south side, at seven and a half miles distant; this bluff is of white clay or chalk, under which is much stone, like lime, incrusted with a clear substance, supposed to be cobalt, and some dark ore. Above this bluff we set the prairie on fire, to invite the Sioux. After twelve and a half miles, we had passed several other sandbars, and now reached the mouth of a river called by the French Jacques (James river) or Yankton, from the tribe which inhabits its banks. It is about ninety yards wide at the confluence: the country which it waters is rich prairie, with little timber: it becomes deeper and wider above its mouth, and may be navigated a great distance; as its sources rise near those of St. Peter's, of the Mississippi, and the red river of lake Winnipeg. As we came to the mouth of the river, an Indian swam to the boat; and, on our landing, we were met by two others, who informed us that a large body of Sioux were encamped near us: they accompanied three of our men, with an invitation to meet us at a spot above the river: the third Indian remained with us: he is a Maha boy, and says that his nation have gone to the Pawnees to make peace with them. At fourteen miles, we encamped on a sandbar to the north. The air was cool, the evening pleasant, the wind from the southeast, and light. The river has fallen gradually, and is now low.

August 28, 1804
Tuesday, 28th. We passed, with a stiff breeze from the south, several sandbars. On the south is a prairie which rises gradually from the water to the height of a bluff, which is, at four miles distance, of a whitish color, and about seventy or eighty feet high. Further on is another bluff, of a brownish color, on the north side; and at the distance of eight and a half miles is the beginning of Calumet bluff, on the south side, under which we formed our camp, in a beautiful plain, to wait the arrival of the Sioux. At the first bluff the young Indian left us and joined their camp. Before reaching Calumet bluff one of the pirogues ran upon a log in the river, and was rendered unfit for service; so that all our loading was put into the second pirogue. On both sides of the river are fine prairies, with cotton wood; and near the bluff there is more timber in the points and valleys than we have been accustomed to see.

August 29, 1804
Wednesday, 29th. We had a violent storm of wind and rain last evening; and were engaged during the day in repairing the pirogue, and other necessary occupations; when, at four o'clock in the afternoon, sergeant Pryor and his party arrived on the opposite side, attended by five chiefs, and about seventy men and boys. We sent a boat for them, and they joined us, as did also Mr. Durion, the son of our interpreter, who happened to be trading with the Sioux at this time. He returned with sergeant Pryor to the Indians, with a present of tobacco, corn, and a few kettles; and told them that we would speak to their chiefs in the morning. Sergeant Pryor reported, that on reaching their village, which is at twelve miles distance from our camp, he was met by a party with a buffalo robe, on which they desired to carry their visitors: an honor which they declined, informing the Indians that they were not the commanders of the boats: as a great mark of respect, they were then presented with a fat dog, already cooked, of which they partook heartily, and found it well flavored. The camps of the Sioux are of a conical form, covered with buffalo robes, painted with various figures and colors, with an aperture in the top for the smoke to pass through. The lodges contain from ten to fifteen persons, and the interior arrangement is compact and handsome, each lodge having a place for cooking detached from it.

August 30, 1804
August 30th. Thursday. The fog was so thick that we could not see the Indian camp on the opposite side, but it cleared off about eight o'clock. We prepared a speech, and some presents, and then sent for the chiefs and warriors, whom we received, at twelve o'clock, under a large oak tree, near to which the flag of the United States was flying. Captain Lewis delivered a speech, with the usual advice and counsel for their future conduct. We then acknowledged their chiefs, by giving to the grand chief a flag, a medal, a certificate, with a string of wampum; to which we added a chief's coat; that is, a richly laced uniform of the United States artillery corps, and a cocked hat and red feather. One second chief and three inferior ones were made or recognised by medals, and a suitable present of tobacco, and articles of clothing. We then smoked the pipe of peace, and the chiefs retired to a bower, formed of bushes, by their young men, where they divided among each other the presents, and smoked and eat, and held a council on the answer which they were to make us to-morrow. The young people exercised their bows and arrows in shooting at marks for beads, which we distributed to the best marksmen; and in the evening the whole party danced until a late hour, and in the course of their amusement we threw among them some knives, tobacco, bells, tape, and binding, with which they were much pleased. Their musical instruments were the drum, and a sort of little bag made of buffalo hide, dressed white, with small shot or pebbles in it, and a bunch of hair tied to it. This produces a sort of rattling music, with which the party was annoyed by four musicians during the council this morning.

August 31, 1804
August 31. In the morning, after breakfast, the chiefs met, and sat down in a row, with pipes of peace, highly ornamented, and all pointed towards the seats intended for captains Lewis and Clarke. When they arrived and were seated, the grand chief, whose Indian name, Weucha, is, in English Shake Hand, and, in French, is called Le Liberateur [58](the deliverer) rose, and spoke at some length, approving what we had said, and promising to follow our advice:

"I see before me," said he, "my great father's two sons. You see me, and the rest of our chiefs and warriors. We are very poor; we have neither powder nor ball, nor knives; and our women and children at the village have no clothes. I wish that as my brothers have given me a flag and a medal, they would give something to those poor people, or let them stop and trade with the first boat which comes up the river. I will bring chiefs of the Pawnees and Mahas together, and make peace between them; but it is better that I should do it than my great father's sons, for they will listen to me more readily. I will also take some chiefs to your country in the spring; but before that time I cannot leave home. I went formerly to the English, and they gave me a medal and some clothes: when I went to the Spanish they gave me a medal, but nothing to keep it from my skin; but now you give me a medal and clothes. But still we are poor; and I wish, brothers, you would give us something for our squaws."

"When he sat down, Mahtoree, or White Crane, rose:

"I have listened," said he, "to what our father's words were yesterday; and I am, to-day, glad to see how you have dressed our old chief. I am a young man, and do not wish to take much: my fathers have made me a chief: I had much sense before, but now I think I have more than ever. What the old chief has declared I will confirm, and do whatever he and you please: but I wish that you would take pity on us, for we are very poor."

Another chief, called Pawnawneahpahbe, then said;

"I am a young man, and know but little: I cannot speak well; but I have listened to what you have told the old chief, and will do whatever you agree."

The same sentiments were then repeated by Aweawechache.

We were surprised at finding that the first of these titles means "Struck by the Pawnee," and was occasioned by some [59]blow which the chief had received in battle, from one of the Pawnee tribe. The second is, in English, "Half Man," which seems a singular name for a warrior, till it was explained to have its origin, probably, in the modesty of the chief; who, on being told of his exploits, would say, "I am no warrior: I am only half a man." The other chiefs spoke very little; but after they had finished, one of the warriors delivered a speech, in which he declared he would support them. They promised to make peace with the Ottoes and Missouris, the only nations with whom they are at war. All these harangues concluded by describing the distress of the nation: they begged us to have pity on them: to send them traders: that they wanted powder and ball; and seemed anxious that we should supply them with some of their great father's milk, the name by which they distinguish ardent spirits. We then gave some tobacco to each of the chiefs, and a certificate to two of the warriors who attended the chief. We prevailed on Mr. Durion to remain here, and accompany as many of the Sioux chiefs as he could collect, down to the seat of government. We also gave his son a flag, some clothes, and provisions, with directions to bring about a peace between the surrounding tribe, and to convey some of their chiefs to see the president. In the evening they left us, and encamped on the opposite bank, accompanied by the two Durions. During the evening and night we had much rain, and observed that the river rises a little. The Indians, who have just left us, are the Yanktons, a tribe of the great nation of Sioux. These Yanktons are about two hundred men in number; and inhabit the Jacques, Desmoines, and Sioux rivers. In person they are stout, well proportioned, and have a certain air of dignity and boldness. In their dress they differ nothing from the other bands of the nation whom we saw, and will describe afterwards: they are fond of decorations, and use paint, and porcupine quills, and feathers. Some of them wore a kind of necklace of white bear's claws, three inches long, and closely strung [60]together round their necks. They have only a few fowling pieces, being generally armed with bows and arrows, in which, however, they do not appear as expert as the more northern Indians. What struck us most was an institution, peculiar to them, and to the Kite Indians, further to the westward, from whom it is said to have been copied. It is an association of the most active and brave young men, who are bound to each other by attachment, secured by a vow, never to retreat before any danger, or give way to their enemies. In war they go forward without sheltering themselves behind trees, or aiding their natural valor by any artifice. This punctilious determination, not to be turned from their course, became heroic, or ridiculous, a short time since, when the Yanktons were crossing the Missouri on the ice. A hole lay immediately in their course, which might easily have been avoided, by going round. This the foremost of the band disdained to do; but went straight forward, and was lost. The others would have followed his example, but were forcibly prevented by the rest of the tribe. These young men sit, and encamp, and dance together, distinct from the rest of the nation: they are generally about thirty or thirty-five years old; and such is the deference paid to courage, that their seats in council are superior to those of the chiefs, and their persons more respected. But, as may be supposed, such indiscreet bravery will soon diminish the numbers of those who practise it; so that the band is now reduced to four warriors, who were among our visitors. These were the remains of twenty-two, who composed the society not long ago; but, in a battle with the Kite Indians, of the Black Mountains, eighteen of them were killed, and these four were dragged from the field by their companions.

Whilst these Indians remained with us we made very minute inquiries relative to their situation and numbers, and trade, and manners. This we did very satisfactorily, by means of two different interpreters; and from their accounts, [61]joined to our interviews with other bands of the same nation, and much intelligence acquired since, we were enabled to understand, with some accuracy, the condition of the Sioux hitherto so little known.

The Sioux, or Dacorta Indians, originally settled on the Mississippi, and called by Carver, Madowesians, are now subdivided into tribes, as follow:

First, The Yanktons: this tribe inhabits the Sioux, Desmoines, and Jacques rivers, and number about two hundred warriors.

Second, The Tetons of the burnt woods. This tribe numbers about three hundred men, who rove on both sides of the Missouri, the White, and Teton rivers.

Third. The Tetons Okandandas, a tribe consisting of about one hundred and fifty men, who inhabit both sides of the Missouri below the Chayenne river.

Fourth, Tetons Minnakenozzo, a nation inhabiting both sides of the Missouri, above the Chayenne river, and containing about two hundred and fifty men.

Fifth, Tetons Saone; these inhabit both sides of the Missouri below the Warreconne river, and consist of about three hundred men.

Sixth, Yanktons of the Plains, or Big Devils; who rove on the heads of the Sioux, Jacques, and Red river; the most numerous of all the tribes, and number about five hundred men.

Seventh, Wahpatone; a nation residing on the St. Peter's, just above the mouth of that river, and numbering two hundred men.

Eighth, Mindawarcarton, or proper Dacorta or Sioux Indians. These possess the original seat of the Sioux, and are properly so denominated. They rove on both sides of the Mississippi, about the falls of St. Anthony, and consist of three hundred men.

Ninth, The Wahpatoota, or Leaf Beds. This nation inhabits both sides of the river St. Peter's, below Yellow-wood [62]river, amounting to about one hundred and fifty men.

Tenth, Sistasoone: this nation numbers two hundred men, and reside at the head of the St. Peter's. Of these several tribes, more particular notice will be taken hereafter.

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