Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates October 1805 - Part Five
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: October 17, 1805 - October 18, 1805

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates October 17, 1805 - October 18, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates October 17, 1805 - October 18, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates October 1805
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates October 17, 1805 - October 18, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: October 17, 1805 - October 18, 1805

October 17, 1805
Thursday, October 17. The day being fair we were occupied in making the necessary observations for determining our longitude, and obtained a meridian altitude, from which it appeared that we were in latitude 46 15' 13' 9‴. We also measured the two rivers by angles, and found that at the junction the Columbia is nine hundred and sixty yards wide, and Lewis's river five hundred and seventy-five; but soon after they unite, the former widens to the space of from one to three miles, including the islands. From the point of junction the country is a continued plain, which is low near the water, from which it rises gradually, and the only elevation to be seen is a range of high country running from the northeast towards the southwest, where it joins a range of mountains from the southwest, and is on the opposite side about two miles from the Columbia. There is through this plain no tree and scarcely any shrub, except a few willow bushes; and even of smaller plants there is not much more than the prickly pear, which is in great abundance, and is even more thorny and troublesome than any we have yet seen.

During this time the principal chief came down with several of his warriors and smoked with us: we were also visited by several men and women, who offered dogs and fish for sale, but as the fish was out of season, and at present abundant in the river, we contented ourselves with purchasing all the dogs we could obtain. The nation among which we now are call themselves Sokulks; and with them are united a few of another nation, who reside on a western branch, emptying itself into the Columbia a few miles above the mouth of the latter river, and whose name is Chimnapum. The language of both these nations, of each of which we obtained a vocabulary, differs but little from each other, or from that of the Chopunnish who inhabit the Kooskooskee and Lewis's river. In their dress and general appearance also they resemble much those nations; the men wearing a robe of deer or antelope skin, under which a few of them have a short leathern shirt. The most striking difference between them is among the females, the Sokulk women being more inclined to corpulency than any we have yet seen: their stature is low, their faces broad, and their heads flattened in such a manner that the forehead is in a straight line from the nose to the crown of the head: their eyes are of a dirty sable, their hair too is coarse and black, and braided as above without ornament of any kind: instead of wearing, as do the Chopunnish, long leathern shirts, highly decorated with beads and shells, the Sokulk females have no other covering but a truss or piece of leather tied round the hips and then drawn tight between the legs.

The ornaments usually worn by both sexes are large blue or white beads, either pendant from their ears, or round thenecks, wrists, and arms: they have likewise bracelets of brass, copper, and horn, and some trinkets of shells, fish bones, and curious feathers. The houses of the Sokulks are made of large mats of rushes, and are generally of a square or oblong form, varying in length from fifteen to sixty feet, and supported in the inside by poles or forks about six feet high: the top is covered with mats, leaving a space of twelve or fifteen inches the whole length of the house, for the purpose of admitting the light and suffering the smoke to pass through: the roof is nearly flat, which seems to indicate that rains are not common in this open country, and the house is not divided into apartments, the fire being in the middle of the large room, and immediately under the hole in the roof: the rooms are ornamented with their nets, gigs, and other fishing tackle, as well as the bow for each inhabitant, and a large quiver of arrows, which are headed with flint stones.

The Sokulks seem to be of a mild and peaceable disposition, and live in a state of comparative happiness. The men like those on the Kimooenim, are said to content themselves with a single wife, with whom we observe the husband shares the labors of procuring subsistence much more than is usual among savages. What may be considered as an unequivocal proof of their good disposition, is the great respect which was shown to old age. Among other marks of it, we observed in one of the houses an old woman perfectly blind, and who we were informed had lived more than a hundred winters. In this state of decrepitude, she occupied the best position in the house, seemed to be treated with great kindness, and whatever she said was listened to with much attention. They are by no means intrusive, and as their fisheries supply them with a competent, if not an ubundant subsistence, although they receive thankfully whatever we choose to give, they do not importune us by begging.

The fish is, indeed, their chief food, except the roots, and the casual supplies of the antelope, which to those who have only bows and arrows, must be very scanty. This diet may be the direct or the remote cause of the chief disorder which prevails among them, as well as among the Flatheads, on the Kooskooskee and Lewis's river. With all these Indians a bad soreness of the eyes is a very common disorder, which is suffered to ripen by neglect, till many are deprived of one of their eyes, and some have totally lostthe use of both. This dreadful calamity may reasonably, we think, be imputed to the constant reflection of the sun on the waters where they are constantly fishing in the spring, summer and fall, and during the rest of the year on the snows of a country which affords no object to relieve the sight. Among the Sokulks too, and indeed among all the tribes whose chief subsistence is fish, we have observed that bad teeth are very general: some have the teeth, particularly those of the upper jaw, worn down to the gums, and many of both sexes, and even of middle age, have lost them almost entirely. This decay of the teeth is a circumstance very unusual among the Indians, either of the mountains or the plains, and seems peculiar to the inhabitants of the Columbia. We cannot avoid regarding as one principal cause of it, the manner in which they eat their food. The roots are swallowed as they are dug from the ground, frequently nearly covered with a gritty sand: so little idea have they that this is offensive, that all the roots they offer us for sale are in the same condition. A second and a principal cause may be their great use of the dried salmon, the bad effects of which are most probably increased by their mode of cooking it, which is simply to warm, and then swallow the rind, scales and flesh without any preparation. The Sokulks possess but few horses, the greater part of their labors being performed in canoes. Their amusements are similar to those of the Missouri Indians.

In the course of the day captain Clarke, in a small canoe with two men, ascended the Columbia. At the distance of five miles he passed an island in the middle of the river, at the head of which is a small and not a dangerous rapid. On the left bank of the river opposite to this river is a fishing place, consisting of three mat houses. Here were great quantities of salmon drying on scaffolds: and indeed from the mouth of the river upwards he saw immense numbers of dead salmon strewed along the shore or floating on the surface of the water, which is so clear that the salmon may be seen swimming in the water at the depth of fifteen or twenty feet. The Indians who had collected on the banks to view him, now joined him in eighteen canoes, and accompanied him up the river. A mile above the rapids he came to the lower point of an island where the course of the river, which had been from its mouth north 83 west, now became due west. He proceeded in that direction, when observing three houses of mats at a short distance he landed to visit them.

On entering one of the houses he found it crowded with men, women and children, who immediately provided a mat for him to sit on, and one of the party undertook to prepare something to eat. He began by bringing in a piece of pine wood that had drifted down the river, which he split into small pieces, with a wedge made of the elks' horn, by means of a mallet of stone curiously carved. The pieces were then laid on the fire, and several round stones placed upon them: one of the squaws now brought a bucket of water, in which was a large salmon about half dried, and as the stones became heated, they were put into the bucket till the salmon was sufficiently boiled for use. It was then taken out, put on a platter of rushes neatly made, and laid before captain Clarke, and another was boiled for each of his men. During these preparations he smoked with those about him who would accept of tobacco, but very few were desirous of smoking, a custom which is not general among them, and chiefly used as a matter of form in great ceremonies. After eating the fish, which was of an excellent flavor, captain Clarke set out, and at the distance of four miles from the last island, came to the lower point of another near the left shore, where he halted at two large mat houses. Here as at the three houses below, the inhabitants were occupied in splitting and drying salmon. The multitudes of this fish are almost inconceivable. The water is so clear that they can readily be seen at the depth of fifteen or twenty feet, but at this season they float in such quantities down the stream, and are drifted ashore, that the Indians have only to collect, split and dry them on the scaffolds.

Where they procure the timber of which these scaffolds are composed he could not learn, but as there are nothing but willow bushes to be seen for a great distance from the place, it rendered very probable, what the Indians assured him by signs, that they often used dried fish as fuel for the common occasions of cooking. From this island they showed him the entrance of a western branch of the Columbia, called the Tapteal, which as far as could be seen bears nearly west, and empties itself about eight miles above into the Columbia; the general course of which is northwest: towards the southwest a range of highland runs parallel to the river, at the distance of two miles on the left, while on the right side the country is low and covered with the prickly pear, and a weed or plant two or three feet high resembling whins. To the eastward is a range of mountains about fifty or sixty miles distant, which bear north and south; but neither in the low grounds, nor in the highlands is any timber to be seen. The evening coming on he determined not to proceed further than the island, and therefore returned to camp, accompanied by three canoes, which contained twenty Indians. In the course of his excursion he shot several grouse, and ducks, and received some presents of fish, for which he gave in return small pieces of riband. He also killed a prairie cock, an animal of the pheasant kind, but about the size of a small turkey. It measured from the beak to the end of the toe two feet six inches and three quarters, from the extremity of the wings three feet six inches, and the feathers of the tail were thirteen inches long. This bird we have seen no where except on this river. Its chief food is the grasshopper, and the seed of the wild plant which is peculiar to this river and the upper parts of the Missouri.

The men availed themselves of this day's rest to mend their clothes, dressing skins, and putting their arms in complete order, an object always of primary concern, but particularly at a moment when we are surrounded by so many strangers.

October 18, 1805
Friday 18. We were visited this morning by several canoes of Indians, who joined those who were already with us, and soon opened a numerous council. We informed them as we had done all the other Indian nations of our friendship for them, and of our desire to promote peace among all our red children in this country. This was conveyed by signs through the means of our two chiefs, and seemed to be perfectly understood. We then made a second chief, and gave to all the chiefs a string of wampum, in remembrance of what we had said. Whilst the conference was going on in a canoe from a large encampment on an island about eight miles below, but after staying a few minutes returned without saying a word to us. We now procured from the principal chief and one of the Cuimnapum nation a sketch of the Columbia, and the tribes of his nation living along its banks and those of the Tapteet. They drew it with a piece of coal on a robe, and as we afterwards transferred to paper, it exhibited a valuable specimen of Indian delineation.

Having completed the purposes of our stay, we now began to lay in our stores, and fish being out of season, purchased forty dogs, for which we gave small articles, such as bells, thimbles, knitting-needles, brass wire, and a few beads, an exchange with which they all seemed perfectly satisfied. These dogs, with six prairie cocks killed this morning, formed a plentiful supply for the present. We here left our guide and the two young men who had accompanied him, two of the three not being willing to go any further, and the third could be of no use as he was not acquainted with the river below. We therefore took no Indians but our two chiefs, and resumed our journey in the presence of many of the Sokulks, who came to witness our departure. The morning was cool and fair, and the wind from the southeast. Soon after proceeding,

We passed the island in the mouth of Lewis river, and at eight miles reached a larger island, which extends three miles in length. On going down by this island there is another on the right, which commences about the middle of it, and continues for three and a half miles. While they continue parallel to each other, they occasion a rapid near the lower extremity of the first island, opposite to which on the second island are nine lodges built of mats, and intended for the accommodation of the fishermen, of whom we saw great numbers, and vast quantities of dried fish on their scaffolds.

On reaching the lower point of the island, we landed to examine a bad rapid, and then undertook the passage which is very difficult, as the channel lies between two small islands, with two others still smaller near the left side of the river. Here are two Indian houses, the inhabitants of the river. Here are two Indian houses, the inhabitants of which were as usual drying fish. We passed the rapid without injury, and fourteen and a half miles from the mouth of Lewis's river, came to an island near the right shore, on which were two other houses of Indians pursuing the customary occupation. One mile and a half beyond this place, is a mouth of a small brook under a high hill on the left. It seems to run during its whole course through the high country, which at this place begins, and rising to the height of two hundred feet form cliffs of rugged black rocks which project a considerable distance into the river. At this place too we observed a mountain to the S. W. the form of which is conical, and its top covered with snow. We followed the river as it entered these highlands, and at the distance of two miles reached three islands, one on each side of the river, and a third in the middle, on which were two houses, where the Indians were drying fish opposite a small rapid. Near these a fourth island begins, close to the right shore, where were nine lodges of Indians, all employed with their fish.

As we passed they called to us to land, but as night was coming on, and there was no appearance of wood in the neighborhood, we went on about a mile further, till observing a log that had drifted down the river, we landed near it on the left side, and formed our camp under a high hill, after having made twenty miles today. Directly opposite to us are five houses of Indians, who were drying fish on the same island where we had passed the nine lodges, and on the other side of the river we saw a number of horses feeding. Soon after landing, we were informed by our chiefs that the large camp of nine houses, belonged to the first chief of all the tribes in this quarter, and that he had called to request us to land and pass the night with him as he had plenty of wood for us. This intelligence would have been very acceptable if it had been explained sooner, for we were obliged to use dried willows for fuel to cook with, not being able to burn the drift-log which had tempted us to land. We now sent the two chiefs along the left side of the river to invite the great chief down to spend the night with us. He came at a late hour, accompanied by twenty men, bringing a basket of mashed berries which he left as a present for us, and formed a camp at a short distance from us.

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