Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates September 1804 - Part Five
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: September 25, 1804 - September 26, 1804

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates September 25, 1804 - September 26, 1804.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates September 25, 1804 - September 26, 1804

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates September 1804
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates September 25, 1804 - September 26, 1804
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: September 26, 1804 - September 27, 1804

September 25, 1804
September 25. The morning was fine, and the wind continued from the southeast. We raised a flagstaff and an awning, under which we assembled at twelve o'clock, with all the party parading under arms. The chiefs and warriors from the camp two miles up the river, met us, about fifty or sixty in number, and after smoking delivered them a speech; but as our Sioux interpreter, Mr. Durion, had been left with the Yanktons, we were obliged to make use of a Frenchman who could not speak fluently, and therefore we curtailed our harangue. After this we went through the ceremony of acknowledging the chiefs, by giving to the grand chief a medal, a flag of the United States, a laced uniform coat, a cocked hat and feather: to the two other chiefs a medal and some small presents; and to two warriors of consideration certificates. The name of the great chief is Untongasabaw, or Black buffalo; the second Tortohonga, or the Partisan; the third Tartongawaka, or buffalo Medicine: the name of one of the warriors was Wawzinggo; that of the second Matocoquepa, or Second Bear. We then invited the chiefs on board, and showed them the boat, the airgun, and such curiosities as we thought might amuse them: In this we succeeded too well; for after giving them a quarter of a glass of whiskey, which they seemed to like very much, and sucked the bottle, it was with much difficulty that we could get rid of them. They at last accompanied captain Clarke on shore in a pirogue with five men; but it seems they had formed a design to stop us; for no sooner had the party landed than three of the Indians seized the cable of the pirogue, and one of the soldiers of the chief put his arms round the mast: the second chief who affected intoxication, then said, that we should not go on, that they had not received presents enough from us; captain Clarke told him that he would not be prevented from going on; that we were not squaws, but warriors; that we were sent by our great father, who could in a moment exterminate them: the chief replied, that he too had warriors, and was proceeding to offer personal violence to captain Clarke, who immediately drew his sword, and made a signal to the boat to prepare for action. The Indians who surrounded him, drew their arrows from their quivers and were bending their bows, when the swivel in the boat was instantly pointed towards them, and twelve of our most determined men jumped into the pirogue and joined captain Clarke. This movement made an impression on them, for the grand chief ordered the young men away from the pirogue, and they withdrew and held a short council with the warriors. Being unwilling to irritate them, captain Clarke then went forward and offered his hand to the first and second chiefs, who refused to take it. He then turned from them and got into the pirogue, but had not gone more than ten paces when both the chiefs and two of the warriors waded in after him, and he brought them on board. We then proceeded on for a mile and anchored off a willow island, which from the circumstances which had just occurred, we called Badhumoured island.

September 26, 1804
Wednesday, September 26. Our conduct yesterday seemed to have inspired the Indians with fear of us, and as we were desirous of cultivating their acquaintance, we complied with their wish that we should give them an opportunity of treating us well, and also suffer their squaws and children to see us and our boat, which would be perfectly new to them. Accordingly, after passing at one and a half mile a small willow island and several sandbars, we came to on the south side, where a crowd of men, women and children were waiting to receive us. Captain Lewis went on shore and remained several hours, and observing that their disposition was friendly we resolved to remain during the night to a dance, which they were preparing for us. Captains Lewis and Clarke, who went on shore one after the other, were met on landing by ten well dressed young men, who took them up in a robe highly decorated and carried them to a large council house, where they were placed on a dressed buffalo skin by the side of the grand chief. The hall or council-room was in the shape of three quarters of a circle, covered at the top and sides with skins well dressed and sewed together. Under this shelter sat about seventy men, forming a circle round the chief, before whom were placed a Spanish flag and the one we had given them yesterday. This left a vacant circle of about six feet diameter, in which the pipe of peace was raised on two forked sticks, about six or eight inches from the ground, and under it the down of the swan was scattered: a large fire, in which they were cooking provisions, stood near, and in the centre about four hundred pounds of excellent buffalo meat as a present for us. As soon as we were seated, an old man got up, and after approving what we had done, begged us to take pity on their unfortunate situation. To this we replied with assurances of protection. After he had ceased, the great chief rose and delivered an harangue to the same effect: then with great solemnity he took some of the most delicate parts of the dog, which was cooked for the festival, and held it to the flag by way of sacrifice: this done, he held up the pipe of peace, and first pointed it towards the heavens, then to the four quarters of the globe, and then to the earth, made a short speech, lighted the pipe, and presented it to us. We smoked, and he again harangued his people, after which the repast was served up to us. It consisted of the dog which they had just been cooking, this being a great dish among the [85]Sioux and used on all festivals; to this were added, pemitigon, a dish made of buffalo meat, dried or jerked, and then pounded and mixed raw with grease and a kind of ground potatoe, dressed like the preparation of Indian corn called hominy, to which it is little inferior. Of all these luxuries which were placed before us in platters with horn spoons, we took the pemitigon and the potatoe, which we found good, but we could as yet partake but sparingly of the dog. We eat and smoked for an hour, when it became dark: every thing was then cleared away for the dance, a large fire being made in the centre of the house, giving at once light and warmth to the ballroom. The orchestra was composed of about ten men, who played on a sort of tambourin, formed of skin stretched across a hoop; and made a jingling noise with a long stick to which the hoofs of deer and goats were hung; the third instrument was a small skin bag with pebbles in it: these, with five or six young men for the vocal part, made up the band. The women then came forward highly decorated; some with poles in their hands, on which were hung the scalps of their enemies; others with guns, spears or different trophies, taken in war by their husbands, brothers, or connexions. Having arranged themselves in two columns, one on each side of the fire, as soon as the music began they danced towards each other till they met in the centre, when the rattles were shaken, and they all shouted and returned back to their places. They have no step, but shuffle along the ground; nor does the music appear to be any thing more than a confusion of noises, distinguished only by hard or gentle blows upon the buffalo skin: the song is perfectly extemporaneous. In the pauses of the dance, any man of the company comes forward and recites, in a sort of low guttural tone, some little story or incident, which is either martial or ludicrous; or, as was the case this evening, voluptuous and indecent; this is taken up by the orchestra and the dancers, who repeat it in a higher strain and dance to it. [86]Sometimes they alternate; the orchestra first performing, and when it ceases, the women raise their voices and make a music more agreeable, that is, less intolerable than that of the musicians. The dances of the men, which are always separate from those of the women, are conducted very nearly in the same way, except that the men jump up and down instead of shuffling; and in the war dances the recitations are all of a military cast. The harmony of the entertainment had nearly been disturbed by one of the musicians, who thinking he had not received a due share of the tobacco we had distributed during the evening, put himself into a passion, broke one of the drums, threw two of them into the fire, and left the band. They were taken out of the fire: a buffalo robe held in one hand and beaten with the other, by several of the company, supplied the place of the lost drum or tambourin, and no notice was taken of the offensive conduct of the man. We staid till twelve o'clock at night, when we informed the chiefs that they must be fatigued with all these attempts to amuse us, and retired accompanied by four chiefs, two of whom spent the night with us on board.

While on shore we saw twenty-five squaws, and about the same number of children, who had been taken prisoners two weeks ago, in a battle with their countrymen the Mahas. In this engagement the Sioux destroyed forty lodges, killed seventy-five men, of which we saw many of the scalps, and took these prisoners; their appearance is wretched and dejected; the women too seem low in stature, coarse and ugly; though their present condition may diminish their beauty. We gave them a variety of small articles, such as awls and needles, and interceded for them with the chiefs, to whom we recommended to follow the advice of their great father, to restore the prisoners and live in peace with the Mahas, which they promised to do.

The tribe which we this day saw, are a part of the great Sioux nation, and are known by the name of the Teton Okandandas: [87]they are about two hundred men in number, and their chief residence is on both sides of the Missouri, between the Chayenne and Teton rivers. In their persons they are rather ugly and ill made, their legs and arms being too small, their cheekbones high, and their eyes projecting. The females, with the same character of form, are more handsome; and both sexes appear cheerful and sprightly; but in our intercourse with them we discovered that they were cunning and vicious.

The men shave the hair off their heads, except a small tuft on the top, which they suffer to grow and wear in plaits over the shoulders; to this they seem much attached, as the loss of it is the usual sacrifice at the death of near relations. In full dress, the men of consideration wear a hawk's feather, or calumet feather worked with porcupine quills, and fastened to the top of the head, from which it falls back. The face and body are generally painted with a mixture of grease and coal. Over the shoulders is a loose robe or mantle of buffalo skin dressed white, adorned with porcupine quills loosely fixed so as to make a gingling noise when in motion, and painted with various uncouth figures unintelligible to us, but to them emblematic of military exploits, or any other incident; the hair of the robe is worn next the skin in fair weather, but when it rains the hair is put outside, and the robe is either thrown over the arm, or wrapped round the body, all of which it may cover. Under this in the winter season they wear a kind of shirt resembling ours, and made either of skin or cloth, and covering the arms and body. Round the middle is fixed a girdle of cloth or procured dressed elk-skin, about an inch in width and closely tied to the body, to this is attached a piece of cloth or blanket or skin about a foot wide, which passes between the legs and is tucked under the girdle both before and behind; from the hip to the ancle he is covered by leggings of dressed antelope skins, with seams at the sides two inches in width, and ornamented by little tufts of hair the produce of the scalps [88]they have made in war, which are scattered down the leg. The winter moccasins are of dressed buffalo-skin, the hair being worn inwards, and soaled with thick elk-skin parchment: those for summer are of deer or elk-skin, dressed without the hair, and with soals of elk-skin. On great occasions, or wherever they are in full dress, the young men drag after them the entire skin of a polecat fixed to the heel of the moccasin. Another skin of the same animal is either tucked into the girdle or carried in the hand, and serves as a pouch for their tobacco, or what the French traders call the bois roule: this is the inner bark of a species of red willow, which being dried in the sun or over the fire, is rubbed between the hands and broken into small pieces, and is used alone or mixed with tobacco. The pipe is generally of red earth, the stem made of ash, about three or four feet long, and highly decorated with feathers, hair and porcupine quills.

The hair of the women is suffered to grow long, and is parted from the forehead across the head, at the back of which it is either collected into a kind of bag, or hangs down over the shoulders. Their moccasins are like those of the men, as are also the leggings, which do not however reach beyond the knee, where it is met by a long loose shift of skin which reaches nearly to the ankles: this is fastened over the shoulders by a string and has no sleeves, but a few pieces of the skin hang a short distance down the arm. Sometimes a girdle fastens this skin round the waist, and over all is thrown a robe like that worn by the men. They seem fond of dress. Their lodges are very neatly constructed, in the same form as those of the Yanktons; they consist of about one hundred cabins, made of white buffalo hide dressed, with a larger one in the centre for holding councils and dances. They are built round with poles about fifteen or twenty feet high, covered with white skins; these lodges may be taken to pieces, packed up, and carried with the nation wherever they go, by dogs which bear great burdens. The women [89]are chiefly employed in dressing buffalo skins: they seem perfectly well disposed, but are addicted to stealing any thing which they can take without being observed. This nation, although it makes so many ravages among its neighbors, is badly supplied with guns. The water which they carry with them is contained chiefly in the paunches of deer and other animals, and they make use of wooden bowls. Some had their heads shaved, which we found was a species of mourning for relations. Another usage, on these occasions, is to run arrows through the flesh both above and below the elbow.

While on shore to-day we witnessed a quarrel between two squaws, which appeared to be growing every moment more boisterous, when a man came forward, at whose approach every one seemed terrified and ran. He took the squaws, and without any ceremony whipped them severely; on inquiring into the nature of such summary justice, we learnt that this man was an officer well known to this and many other tribes. His duty is to keep the peace, and the whole interior police of the village is confided to two or three of these officers, who are named by the chief and remain in power some days, at least till the chief appoints a successor; they seem to be a sort of constable or sentinel, since they are always on the watch to keep tranquillity during the day, and guarding the camp in the night. The short duration of their office is compensated by its authority: his power is supreme, and in the suppression of any riot or disturbance no resistance to him is suffered: his person is sacred, and if in the execution of his duty he strikes even a chief of the second class, he cannot be punished for this salutary insolence. In general they accompany the person of the chief, and when ordered to any duty, however dangerous, it is a point of honor rather to die than to refuse obedience. Thus, when they attempted to stop us yesterday, the chief ordered one of these men to take possession of the boat: he immediately put his arms round the mast, and, as we understood, no force except the command of the chief would have induced him to release his hold. Like the other men their bodies are blackened, but their distinguishing mark is a collection of two or three raven skins fixed to the girdle behind the back in such a way, that the tails stick out horizontally from the body. On his head too is a raven skin split into two parts, and tied so as to let the beak project from the forehead.

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