Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates November 1804 - Part Three
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: November 17, 1804 - November 21, 1804

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates November 17, 1804 - November 21, 1804.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates November 17, 1804 - November 21, 1804

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates November 1804
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates November 17, 1804 - November 21, 1804
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: November 17, 1804 - November 21, 1804

November 17, 1804
Saturday, November 17. Last night was very cold, and the ice in the river to-day is thicker than hitherto. We are totally occupied with our huts, but received visits from several Indians.

November 18, 1804
Sunday, November 18. To-day we had a cold windy morning; the Black Cat came to see us, and occupied us for a long time with questions on the usages of our country. He mentioned that a council had been held yesterday to deliberate on the state of their affairs. It seems that not long ago, a party of Sioux fell in with some horses belonging to the Minnetarees, and carried them off; but in their flight they were met by some Assiniboines, who killed the Sioux and kept the horses: a Frenchman too who had lived many years among the Mandans, was lately killed on his route to the British factory on the Assiniboine; some smaller differences existed between the two nations, all of which being discussed, the council decided that they would not resent the recent insults from the Assiniboines and Knistenaux, until they had seen whether we had deceived them or not in our promises of furnishing them with arms and ammunition. They had been disappointed in their hopes of receiving them from Mr. Evans and were afraid that we too, like him, might tell them what was not true. We advised them to continue at peace, that supplies of every kind would no doubt arrive for them, but that time was necessary to organize the trade. The fact is that the Assiniboines treat the Mandans as the Sioux do the Ricaras; by their vicinity to the British they get all the supplies, which they withhold or give at pleasure to the remoter Indians: the consequence is, that however badly treated, the Mandans and Ricaras are very slow to retaliate lest they should lose their trade altogether.

November 19, 1804
Monday 19. The ice continues to float in the river, the wind high from the northwest, and the weather cold. Our hunters arrived from their excursion below, and bring a very fine supply of thirty-two deer, eleven elk, and five buffalo, all of which was hung in a smokehouse.

November 20, 1804
Tuesday 20. We this day moved into our huts which are now completed. This place which we call Fort Mandan, is situated in a point of low ground, on the north side of the Missouri, covered with tall and heavy cottonwood. The works consist of two rows of huts or sheds, forming an angle where they joined each other; each row containing four rooms, of fourteen feet square and seven feet high, with plank ceiling, and the roof slanting so as to form a loft above the rooms, the highest part of which is eighteen feet from the ground: the backs of the huts formed a wall of that height, and opposite the angle the place of the wall was supplied by picketing; in the area were two rooms for stores and provisions. The latitude by observation is 47 21' 47", and the computed distance from the mouth of the Missouri sixteen hundred miles.

In the course of the day several Indians came down to partake of our fresh meat; among the rest, three chiefs of the second Mandan village. They inform us that the Sioux on the Missouri above the Chayenne river, threaten to attack them this winter; that these Sioux are much irritated at the Ricaras for having made peace through our means with the Mandans, and have lately ill treated three Ricaras who carried the pipe of peace to them, by beating them and taking away their horses. We gave them assurances that we would protect them from all their enemies.

November 21, 1804
November 21st. The weather was this day fine: the river clear of ice and rising a little: we are now settled in our new winter habitation, and shall wait with much anxiety the first return of spring to continue our journey.

The villages near which we are established are five in number, and are the residence of three distinct nations: the Mandans, the Ahnahaways, and the Minnetarees. The history of the Mandans, as we received it from our interpreters and from the chiefs themselves, and as it is attested by existing monuments, illustrates more than that of any other nation the unsteady movements and the tottering fortunes of the American nations. Within the recollection of living witnesses, the Mandans were settled forty years ago in nine villages, the ruins of which we passed about eighty miles [130]below, and situated seven on the west and two on the east side of the Missouri. The two finding themselves wasting away before the small-pox and the Sioux, united into one village, and moved up the river opposite to the Ricaras. The same causes reduced the remaining seven to five villages, till at length they emigrated in a body to the Ricara nation, where they formed themselves into two villages, and joined those of their countrymen who had gone before them. In their new residence they were still insecure, and at length the three villages ascended the Missouri to their present position. The two who had emigrated together still settled in the two villages on the northwest side of the Missouri, while the single village took a position on the southeast side. In this situation they were found by those who visited them in 1796; since which the two villages have united into one. They are now in two villages, one on the southeast of the Missouri, the other on the opposite side, and at the distance of three miles across. The first, in an open plain, contains about forty or fifty lodges, built in the same way as those of the Ricaras: the second, the same number, and both may raise about three hundred and fifty men.

On the same side of the river, and at the distance of four miles from the lower Mandan village, is another called Mahaha. It is situated in a high plain at the mouth of Knife river, and is the residence of the Ahnahaways. This nation, whose name indicates that they were "people whose village is on a hill," formerly resided on the Missouri, about thirty miles below where they now live. The Assiniboines and Sioux forced them to a spot five miles higher, where the greatest part of them were put to death, and the rest emigrated to their present situation, in order to obtain an assylum near the Minnetarees. They are called by the French, Soulier Noir or Shoe Indians; by the Mandans, Wattasoons, and their whole force is about fifty men.

On the south side of the same Knife river, half a mile above the Mahaha and in the same open plain with it, is a village of Minnetarees surnamed Metaharta, who are about one hundred and fifty men in number. On the opposite side of Knife river, and one and a half mile above this village is a second of Minnetarees, who may be considered as the proper Minnetaree nation. It is situated in a beautiful low plain, and contains four hundred and fifty warriors. The accounts which we received of the Minnetarees were contradictory. The Mandans say that this people came out of the water to the east, and settled near them in their former establishment in nine villages; that they were very numerous, and fixed themselves in one village on the southern side of the Missouri. A quarrel about a buffalo divided the nation, of which two bands went into the plains, and were known by the name of Crow and Paunch Indians, and the rest moved to their present establishment. The Minnetarees proper assert, on the contrary, that they grew where they now live, and will never emigrate from the spot; the great spirit having declared that if they moved they would all die. They also say that the Minnetarees Metaharta, that is Minnetarees of the Willows, whose language with very little variation is their own, came many years ago from the plains and settled near them, and perhaps the two traditions may be reconciled by the natural presumption that these Minnetarees were the tribe known to the Mandans below, and that they ascended the river for the purpose of rejoining the Minnetarees proper. These Minnetarees are part of the great nation called Fall Indians, who occupy the intermediate country between the Missouri and the Saskaskawan, and who are known by the name of Minnetarees of the Missouri, and Minnetarees of Fort de Prairie; that is, residing near or rather frequenting the establishment in the prairie on the Saskaskawan. These Minnetarees indeed, told us that they had relations on the Saskaskawan, whom they had never known till they met them in war, and having engaged in the night were astonished at discovering that they were fighting with men who spoke their own language. The name of Grosventres, or Bigbellies is given to these Minnetarees, as well as to all the Fall Indians. The inhabitants of these five villages, all of which are within the distance of six miles, live in harmony with each other. The Ahnahaways understand in part the language of the Minnetarees: the dialect of the Mandans differs widely from both; but their long residence together has insensibly blended their manners, and occasioned some approximation in language, particularly as to objects of daily occurrence and obvious to the senses.

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