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Yakima and Area Tribes

Information on the Yakima and Walla Walla Indians
Recorded by Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
1805-1806 The following excerpts from the journals of Lewis and Clark and their men present a picture of the Yakima and other tribal groups, including the Walla Walla, from the upper Columbia River basin as the Anglo-Americans saw them. The modern reader must be careful to understand that what these white men saw and recorded was not necessarily correct from the Indian perspective.

The following passages have been freely adapted and excerpted from the original texts, and the spelling has been corrected to make them easier to read. For students wishing to quote these passages, the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary Moulton and published by the University of Nebraska Press, is the recommended source. For those who wish more in-depth information about Lewis and Clark's relations with various Indian tribes, including background from the Indian perspective, the best book is James P. Ronda's Lewis and Clark among the Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984. The very best way to obtain accurate information from the tribal perspective is to contact tribal councils for individual tribes - in other words, to consult the people themselves.

The Indians being described in the following passages were the Yakima and Wanapam Indians. The former lived in the immediate vicinity of the Snake-Columbia fork, with the latter nearby. Also nearby were the Walulas (Walla Wallas), Umatillas, and Palouses. All spoke languages of the Shahaptian family, and members of some or all of these tribes may also have been seen and described by the explorers.

Contact Information:

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla:
Chairperson, Umatilla Board of Trustees
P.O. Box 638
Pendleton, Oregon 97801-0638
*****


Journal Excerpts:

[Clark]
Oct. 16th (Monday) 1805 Wednesday
Five Indians came up the river in great haste. We smoked with them and gave them a piece of tobacco to smoke with their people and sent them back. They set out in a run & continued to go as fast as they could run as far as we could see them. We halted above the point on the river Kimooenim to smoke with the Indians who had collected there in great numbers to view us. Here we met our 2 Chiefs who left us two days ago and proceeded on to this place to inform those bands of our approach and friendly intentions towards all nations &c. We also met the 2 men who had passed us several days ago on horseback. One of them we observed was a man of great influence with those Indians, harangued them. After smoking with the Indians who had collected to view us we formed a camp at the point, near which place I saw a few pieces of driftwood. After we had our camp fixed and fires made, a Chief came from their camp which was about ¼ of a mile up the Columbia River at the head of about 200 men, singing and beating on their drums stick and keeping time to the music. They formed a half circle around us and sung for some time. We gave them all smoke, and spoke to their Chiefs as well as we could by signs, informing them of our friendly disposition to all nations, and our joy in seeing those of our children around us. Gave the principal chief a large medal, shirt and handkerchief. A 2nd Chief a medal of small size, and to the Chief who came down from the upper villages a small medal & handkerchief. The Chiefs then returned with the men to their camp. Soon after we purchased for our provisions seven dogs. Some few of those people made us presents of fish and several returned and delayed with us until bedtime. The 2 old Chiefs who accompanied us from the head of the river procured us some fuel such as the stalks of weed or plant and willow bushes. One man made me a present of about 20 pounds of very fat dried horsemeat. Great quantities of a kind of prickly pears, much worse than any I have before seen, of a tapering form and attach themselves by bunches. This morning after the lunar observations, the old chief and several men with dogs to sell & women with fish &c. The dogs we purchased, the fish not good. An Indian showed me the mouth of the river which falls in below a high hill on the larboard N. 80' W. 8 miles from the island. Those Indians are orderly, badly dressed in the same fashions of those above, except the women, who wore short shirts and a flap over them. 22 fishing houses of mats, robes of deer, goat & beaver.

[Ordway]
Wednesday 16th Oct. 1805
About 200 savages are camped on the point between the 2 rivers. We camped near them. They sold us eight fat dogs and some fresh salmon. In the evening the whole band came singing in their way to our camp around our fires and smoked with us, and appeared very friendly. They have plenty of beads, copper & brass trinkets, about them which they sign to us that they got them from some traders on a river to the north of this place.

[Whitehouse]
Wednesday October 16th
We found upwards of 200 Indians that were encamped on a point of land that lay between these two rivers in a very pleasant situated place. We encamped near those Indians on the same point of land. These natives came to our encampment & sold us 8 dogs & some fresh salmon. This whole band of Indians came in a body, singing in their manner to our fires, smoked with us, & appeared friendly. These Indians had beads and small pieces of brass & copper hanging about them, which they made signs to us that they got them from white people who live on a river lying to the north of this place, & that they also got some of them at the mouth of this river. We passed several islands this day & came 26 miles, the course with us is the same as yesterday.

[Clark]
October 17th Thursday 1805
Made the above observations, during which time the principal Chief came down with several of his principal men and smoked with us. Several men and women offered dogs and fish to sell. We purchased all the dogs we could, the fish being out of season and dying in great numbers in the river, we did not think proper to use them. Capt. Lewis took a vocabulary of the language of those people who call themselves So kulk, and also one of the language of a nation residing on a westerly fork of the Columbia which mouths a few miles above this place who call themselves Chim na pum. Some few of this nation reside with the So kulks nation. Their language differs but little from either the Sokulks or the Cho-pun-nish (or pierced nose) [Nez Perce] nation which inhabit the Kooskooskia river and Lewis's River below. I took two men in a small canoe and ascended the Columbia River 10 miles to an island near the starboard shore on which two large mat lodges of Indians were drying salmon, (as they informed me by signs for the purpose of food and fuel, & I do not think at all improbable that those people make use of dried fish as fuel). The number of dead salmon on the shores & floating in the river is incredible to see, and at this season they have only to collect the fish, split them open and dry them on their scaffolds on which they have great numbers. How far they have to raft their timber they make their scaffolds of I could not learn; but there is no timber of any sort except small willow bushes in sight in any direction from this island. The natives showed me the entrance of a large westerly fork which they call Tapetett at about 8 miles distant. Great numbers of Indians on the banks viewing me and 18 canoes accompanied me from the point. Passed three large lodges on the starboard side, near which great number of salmon was drying on scaffolds. One of those mat lodges I entered, found it crowded with men, women and children, and near the entrance of those houses I saw many squaws engaged splitting and drying salmon. I was furnished with a mat to sit on, and one man set about preparing me something to eat. First he brought in a piece of a drift log of pine and with a wedge of the elk's horn, and a mallet of stone curiously carved. He split the log into small pieces and laid it open on the fire, on which he put round stones. A woman handed him a basket of water and a large salmon about half dried. When the stones were hot he put them into the basket of water with the fish, which was soon sufficiently boiled for use. It was then taken out, put on a platter of rushes neatly made, and set before me. They boiled a salmon for each of the men with me. During those preparations I smoked with those about me who chose to smoke, which was but few, this being a custom those people are but little accustomed to and only smoke through form. After eating the boiled fish, which was delicious, I set out & halted or came to on the island at the two lodges. Several fish was given to me, in return for which I gave small pieces of ribbon from those lodges. On my return I was followed by 3 canoes in which there was 20 Indians. I shot a large prairie cock, several grouse, ducks and fish. On my return found great numbers of the natives with Capt. Lewis, men all employed in dressing their skins, mending their clothes and putting their arms in the best order, the latter being always a matter of attention with us. The dress of those natives differ but little from those on the Kooskooskia and Lewis's rivers, except the women who dress very different inasmuch as those above wear long leather shirts which [are] highly ornamented with beads, shells &c. &c. and those on the main Columbia River only wear a truss or piece of leather tied around them at their hips and drawn tight between their legs and fastened before so as barely to hide those parts which are so sacredly hid & secured by our women. Those women are more inclined to corpulence than any we have yet seen, with low stature, broad faces, heads flattened (the eyes back) and the forehead compressed so as to form a straight line from the nose to the crown of the head. Their eyes are of a dusky black, their hair of a coarse black without ornaments of any kind, braided as above.
The ornaments of each sex are similar, such as large blue & white beads, either pendant from their ears or encircling their necks, or wrists & arms. They also wear bracelets of brass, copper & horn, and trinkets of shells, fishbones and curious feathers. Their (dress are as follows viz: garments consists of a short shirt of leather and a robe of the skins of deer or the antelope, but few of them wear shirts, all have short robes. Those people appear to live in a state of comparative happiness. They take a greater share labor of the woman than is common among savage tribes, and as I am informed content with one wife (as also those on the Ki moo ne nim River). Those people respect the aged with veneration. I observed an old woman in one of the lodges which I entered. She was entirely blind [and] as I was informed by signs had lived more than 100 winters. She occupied the best position in the house, and when she spoke great attention was paid to what she said. Those people, as also those of the Flatheads which we had passed on the Kookooske and Lewis's Rivers are subject to sore eyes, and many are blind of one and some of both eyes. This misfortune must be owing to the reflections of the sun &c. on the waters in which they are continually fishing during the spring, summer & fall, & the snows during the winter seasons in this open country where the eye has no rest. I have observed amongst those, as well in all other tribes which I have passed on these waters who live on fish, many of different sects who have lost their teeth (quit) about middle age. Some have their teeth worn to the gums, particularly those of the upper jaws, and the tribes generally have bad teeth. The cause of it I cannot account. Sand attached to the roots &c. The method they have of using the dried salmon, which is merely warming it and eating the rind & scales with the flesh of the fish, no doubt contributes to it. The houses or lodges of the tribes of the main Columbia River is of large mats made of rushes. Those houses are from 15 to 60 feet in length, generally of an oblong square form supported by poles on forks in the inner side, six feet high. The top is covered also with mats leaving a separation in the whole length of about 12 or 15 inches wide, left for the purpose of admitting light and for the smoke of the fire to pass, which is made in the middle of the house. The roofs are nearly flat, which proves to me that rains are not common in this open country. Those people appear of a mild disposition and friendly disposed. They have in their huts independent of their nets, gigs & fishing tackle each bows & large quivers of arrows on which they use flint spikes. Their amusements are similar to those of the Missouri. They are not beggarly and receive what is given them with much joy. I saw but few horses; they appeared make but little use of those animals, principally using canoes for their uses of procuring food &c. [Clark described a custom of flattening the head common among Columbia and Northwest Coast peoples. They put infants in a special cradleboard with an angled board compressing the forehead. Many whites applied the term "flathead" to these Indians, although they reserved the term for tribes in the interior who left their heads naturally "flat" on top. The deformed head shape was considered a mark of distinction, beauty, and superior status].

[Ordway]
Thursday 17th Oct. 1805.
These savages are very poor but peaceable. Some of them naked and some have dressed elk and deerskins with the hair on. Some few rabbit skins also. They have a number of horses among them. Their graveyards are picketed in, and the place about these forks is very pleasant and smooth &c.

[Clark]
October 18th (Wednesday) Friday 1805
The Great Chief Cuts-Sah nim gave me a sketch of the rivers & tribes above on the great river & its waters, on which he put great numbers of villages of his nation & friends, as noted on the sketch.

[Clark]
October 19th Saturday 1805
The great chief Yel-lep-pit, two other chiefs, and a Chief of Band below presented themselves to us very early this morning. We smoked with them, informed them as we had all others above as well as we could by signs of our friendly intentions towards our red children, particularly those who opened their ears to our councils. We gave a medal, a handkerchief & a string of wampum to Yelleppit and a string of wampum to each of the others. Yelleppit is a bold, handsome Indian, with a dignified countenance, about 35 years of age, about 5 feet 8 inches high and well proportioned. He requested us to delay until the middle of the day, that his people might come down and see us. We excused ourselves and promised to stay with him one or 2 days on our return, which appeared to satisfy him. Great numbers of Indians came down in canoes to view us before we set out, which was not until 9 o'clock A.M. A short distance below passed two islands; one near the middle of the river on which is seven lodges of Indians drying fish. At our approach they hid themselves in their lodges and not one was to be seen until we passed. They then came out in greater numbers than is common in lodges of their size. It is probable that the inhabitants of the 5 lodges above had in a fright left their lodges and descended to this place to defend themselves if attacked, there being a bad rapid opposite the island through which we had to pass. The entrance or doors of the lodges were shut with the same materials of which they were built, a mat. I approached one with a pipe in my hand, entered a lodge which was the nearest to me, found 32 persons men, women and a few children setting promiscuously in the lodge, (some) in the greatest agitation, some crying and wringing their hands, others hanging their heads. I gave my hand to them all and made signs of my friendly disposition and offered the men my pipe to smoke and distributed a few small articles which I had in my pockets. This measure pacified those distressed people very much. I then sent one man into each lodge and entered a second myself, the inhabitants of which I found more frightened than those of the first lodge. I distributed sundry small articles amongst them, and smoked with the men. I then entered the third, 4th & fifth lodge, which I found somewhat pacified, the three men, Drewyer, Joseph & Reubin Field having used every means in their power to convince them of our friendly disposition to them. I then (formed) set myself on a rock and made signs to the men to come and smoke with me. Not one came out until the canoes arrived with (some five came out of each lodge and set by me and smoked. This time Capt. Lewis came down with the canoes rear in which the Indian, as soon as they saw the squaw wife of the interpreter's (wife) [Sacagawea] they pointed to her and informed those who continued yet in the same position I first found them. They immediately all came out and appeared to assume new life. The sight of this Indian woman, wife to one of our interpreters, confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter. Capt. Lewis joined us and we smoked with those people in the greatest friendship, during which time one of our old Chiefs informed them who we were, from whence we came and where we were going, giving them a friendly account of us. Those people do not speak precisely the same language of those above but understand them. I saw several horses and persons on horseback in the plains. Many of the men, women and children came up from the lodges belong; all of them appeared pleased to see us, we traded some few articles for fish and berries, dined, and proceeded on. Passed a small rapid and 15 lodges below the five, and encamped below an island close under the larboard side, nearly opposite to 24 lodges on an island near the middle of the river. Indians came from the different lodges, and a number of them brought wood which they gave us. We smoked with all of them, and two of our party, Peter Cruzatte & Gibson played on the violin which delighted them greatly. We gave to the principal man a string of wampum, treated them kindly for which they appeared grateful. This tribe can raise about 350 men. Their dress is similar to those at the fork except their robes are smaller and do not reach lower than the waist and ¾ of them have scarcely any robes at all. The women have only a small piece of a robe which covers their shoulders, neck and reaching down behind to their wastes, with a tight piece of leather about the waste. The breasts are large and hang down, very low, ill shaped, high cheeks, flattened heads, & have but few ornaments. They are all employed in fishing and drying fish, of which they have great quantities on their scaffolds. Their habits, customs &c. I could not learn. The Indians continued all night at our fires.

[Clark]
October 20th Sunday 1805
After breakfast we gave all the Indian men smoke, and we set out, leaving about 200 of the natives at our encampment. Passed three Indian lodges on the larboard side a little below our camp which lodges (we) I did not discover last evening. On those three islands I counted seventeen Indian lodges. Those people are in every respect like those above, preparing fish for their winter consumption. Here we purchased a few indifferent dried fish & a few berries on which we dined. (On the upper part of this island we discovered an Indian vault). Our curiosity induced us to examine the method those natives practiced in disposing the dead. The vault was made by broad boards and pieces of canoes leaning on a ridge pole which was supported by 2 forks set in the ground, six feet in height in an easterly and westerly direction and about 60 feet in length and 12 feet wide. In it I observed great numbers of human bones of every description, particularly in a pile near the center of the vault. On the east end 21 skulls and bones forming a circle on mats. In the westerly part of the vault appeared to be appropriated for those of more recent death, as many of the bodies of the deceased wrapped up in leather robes lay on boards covered with mats, &c. We observed, independent of the canoes which served as a covering, fishing nets of various kinds, baskets of different sizes, wooden bowls, robes, skins, trenchers, and various kinds of trinkets, in and suspended on the ends of the pieces forming the vault. We also saw the skeletons of several horses at the vault & a great number of bones about it, which convinced me that those animals were sacrificed as well as the above articles to the deceased.

[Clark]
October 21st Monday 1805
Some rapid water at the head and eight lodges of natives opposite its lower point on the starboard side. We came to at those lodges, bought some wood and breakfasted. Those people received us with great kindness, and examined us with much attention, their employments, customs, dress and appearance similar to those above; speak the same language. Here we saw two scarlet and a blue cloth blanket, also a sailor's jacket. The dress of the men of this tribe only a short robe of deer or goat skins, and that of the women is a short piece of dressed skin which falls from the neck so as to cover the front of the body as low as the waist. A short robe, which is of one deer or antelope skin, and a flap, around their waist and drawn tight between their legs as before described. Their ornaments are but few, and worn as those above. We got from those people a few pounded roots fish and acorns of the white oak. Those acorns they make use of as food, and inform us they procure them of the natives who live near the falls below, which place they all describe by the term Timm. Those people did not receive us at first with the same cordiality of those above. They appear to be the same nation, speak the same language with a little corruption of many words, dress and fish in the same way. All of whom have pierced noses and the men when dressed wear a long tapered piece of shell or bead put through the nose.

[Gass]
Tuesday 22nd. At 10 o'clock we came to a large island, where the river has cut its way through the point of a high hill. Opposite to this island a large river comes in on the south side, called by the natives the Shoshone or Snake-Indian River; and which has large rapids close to its mouth. This, or the Krmoo-ee-nem, is the same river, whose headwaters we saw at the Snake Nation. The natives are very numerous on the island and all along the river. Their lodges are of bulrushes and flags, made into a kind of mats, and formed into a hut or lodge.

[Clark]
October 24th Thursday 1805
The morning fair after a beautiful night. The natives approached us this morning with great caution. Our two old chiefs expressed a desire to return to their band from this place, saying "that they could be of no further service to us, as their nation extended no further down the river than those falls; and as the nation below had expressed hostile intentions against us, would certainly kill them; particularly as they had been at war with each other." We requested them to stay with us two nights longer, and we would see the nation below and make a peace between them. They replied they "were anxious to return and see our horses." We insisted on their staying with us two nights longer, to which they agreed. Our views were to detain those Chiefs with us until we should pass the next falls, which we were told was very bad, and at no great distance below, that they might inform us of any designs of the natives, and if possible to bring about a peace between them and the tribes below.

[Lewis]
Tuesday April 15th 1806
At three in the evening we arrived at the entrance of Quinnette Creek, which we ascended a short distance and encamped at the place we have called Rock Fort Camp. Here we were visited by some of the people from the villages at the great narrows and falls. We informed them of our wish to purchase horses, & agreed to meet them on the opposite or north side of the river tomorrow for the purpose of bartering with them. Most of them returned to their villages this evening. Three only remained with us all night. These people are much better clad than any of the nations below; their men have generally leggings, moccasins and large robes, many of them wear shirts of the same form [as] those of the Chopunnish [or] Shoshones, highly ornamented with the quills of the porcupine as also their moccasins and leggings. They conceal the parts of genera with the skin of a fox or some other small animal drawn underneath a girdle and hanging loosely in front of them like a narrow apron. The dress of their women differs very little from those about the rapids. Both men and women cut their hair in the forehead which comes down as low as the eyebrows. They have long earlocks cut square at the end. The other part of their hair is dressed in the same manner as those of the rapids.

[Lewis]
Tuesday April 22nd 1806.
At 7 A.M. we set out, having previously sent on our small canoe with Colter and Potts. We had not arrived at the top of a hill over which the road leads opposite the village before Charbonneau's horse threw his load, and taking fright at the saddle and robe which still adhered, ran at full speed down the hill. Near the village he disengaged himself from the saddle and robe, an Indian hid the robe in his lodge. Sent our guide and one man who was with me in the rear to assist Charbonneau in retaking his horse, which having done they returned to the village. On the track of the horse in search of the lost articles they found the saddle but could see nothing of the robe, the Indians denied having seen it; they then continued on the track of the horse to the place from whence he had set out with the same success. Being now confident that the Indians had taken it I sent the Indian woman [Sacagawea] on to request Capt. Clark to halt the party and send back some of the men to my assistance, being determined either to make the Indians deliver the robe or burn their houses. They have vexed me in such a manner by such repeated acts of villainy that I am quite disposed to treat them with every severity. Their defenseless state pleads forgiveness so far as respects their lives. With this resolution I returned to their village, which I had just reached as Labiche met me with the robe, which he informed me he found in an Indian lodge hid behind their baggage. I now returned and joined Capt. Clark, who was waiting my arrival with the party. The Indian woman [Sacagawea] had not reached Capt. Clark until about the time I arrived and he returned from a position on the top of a hill not far from where he had halted the party. [We] proceeded on through an open plain country about 8 miles to a village of 6 houses of the Eneshur Nation. We halted at a small run just above the village where we dined on some dogs which we purchased of the inhabitants and suffered our horses to graze about three hours. There is no timber in this country. We are obliged to purchase our fuel of the natives, who bring it from a great distance. While we halted for dinner we purchased a horse. After dinner we proceeded on up the river about 4 miles to a village of 7 mat lodges of the last mentioned nation. Here our Chopunnish [Nez Perce] guide informed us that the next village was at a considerable distance and that we could not reach it tonight. The people at this place offered to sell us wood and dogs, and we therefore thought it better to remain all night. A man belonging to the next village above proposed exchanging a horse for one of our canoes. Just at this moment one of our canoes was passing. We hailed them and ordered them to come over, but the wind continued so high that they could not join us until after sunset and the Indian who wished to exchange his horse for the canoe had gone on. Charbonneau purchased a horse this evening. We obtained 4 dogs and as much wood as answered our purposes on moderate terms.

[Ordway]
Tuesday 22nd of April 1806.
About noon we halted at a village of the Walla Walla tribe where we bought a dog and a little firewood. The wind so high from the northwest that the canoes being on the opposite side of the river could not cross. We purchased a horse. Took a light dinner and proceeded on about 6 miles and camped at a village where we purchased a horse, 5 dogs and a little wood and considerable of new shappalel &c.

[Lewis]
Wednesday April 23rd 1806.
We continued our march along a narrow rocky bottom on the north side of the river about 12 miles to the Wah-how-pum Village of 12 temporary mat lodges near the Rock Rapid. These people appeared much pleased to see us, sold us 4 dogs and some wood for our small articles which we had previously prepared as our only resource to obtain fuel and food through those plains. These articles consisted of pewter buttons, strips of tin, iron and brass, twisted wire &c. We also obtained some chapellel newly made from these people. Here we met with a Chopunnish [Nez Perce] man on his return up the river with his family and about 13 head of horses, most of them young and unbroken. He offered to hire us some of them to pack as far as his nation, but we prefer buying as by hiring his horses we shall have the whole of his family most probably to maintain. At a little distance below this village we passed five lodges of the same people who like those were waiting the arrival of the salmon. After we had arranged our camp we caused all the old and brave men to sit around and smoke with us, we had the violin played and some of the men danced; after which the natives entertained us with a dance after their method. This dance differed from any I have yet seen. They formed a circle and all sung as well the spectators as the dancers who performed within the circle. These placed their shoulders together with their robes tightly drawn about them and danced in a line from side to side, several parties of from 4 to seven will be performing within the circle at the same time. The whole concluded with a promiscuous dance in which most of them sung and danced. These people speak a language very similar to the Chopunnish, whom they also resemble in their dress. Their women wear long leggings, moccasins, shirts and robes. Their men also dress with leggings, shirts, robes and moccasins. After the dance was ended the Indians retired at our request and we retired to rest.

[Lewis]
Thursday April 24th 1806.
In the intermediate time we had 4 packsaddles made, purchased three horses of the Wah-howpums, and hired three others of the Chopunnish man who accompanies us with his family and horses. We now sold our canoes for a few strands of beads, loaded up and departed at 2 P.M. The natives had tantalized us with an exchange of horses for our canoes in the first instance, but when they found that we had made our arrangements to travel by land, they would give us nothing for them. I determined to cut them in pieces sooner than leave them on those terms. Drewyer struck one of the canoes and split of a small piece with his tomahawk. They discovered us determined on this subject and offered us several strands of beads for each, which were accepted. At 12 miles we arrived at a village of 5 lodges of the Met-cow-wes, having passed 4 lodges at 4 and 2 at 2 miles further. We remained all night near the Met-cow-we lodges about 2 miles below our encampment of the [blank] of October last. We purchased three dogs and some chapellel of these people which we cooked with dry grass and willow boughs. Many of the natives passed and repassed us today on the road and behaved themselves with distant respect towards us.

[Lewis]
Friday April 25th 1806.
This morning we collected our horses and set out at 9 A.M. and proceeded on 11 miles to the village of the Pish-quit-pahs of 51 mat lodges where we arrived at 2 P.M. Purchased five dogs and some wood from them and took dinner. This village contains about 7 hundred souls. Most of those people were in the plains at a distance from the river as we passed down last fall. They had now therefore the gratification of beholding white men for the first time. While here they flocked around us in great numbers, though treated us with much respect. We gave two medals of the small size to their two principal chiefs who were pointed out to us by our Chopunnish fellow traveler and were acknowledged by the nation. We exposed a few old clothes, my dirk, and Capt. Clark's sword to barter for horses but were unsuccessful. These articles constitute at present our principal stock in trade. The Pish-quit-pahs insisted much on our remaining with them all night, but sundry reasons conspired to urge our noncompliance with their wishes. We passed one house or rather lodge of the Metcowwees about a mile above our encampment of the [blank]th of October last. The Pish-quit-pahs may be considered hunters as well as fishermen as they spend the fall and winter months in that occupation. They are generally pleasantly featured, of good stature and well proportioned. Both women and men ride extremely well. Their bridle is usually a hair rope tied with both ends to the under jaw of the horse, and their saddle consists of a pad of dressed skin stuffed with goat's hair with wooden stirrups. Almost all the horses which I have seen in possession of the Indians have sore backs. The Pishquitpah women for the most part dress with short skirts which reach to their knees, long leggings and moccasins, they also use large robes; some of them wear only the truss and robe. They braid their hair as before described but the heads of neither male nor female of this tribe are so much flattened as the nations lower down on this river. At 4 P.M. we set out accompanied by eighteen or twenty of their young men on horseback.

[Gass]
Friday 25th. At noon, we came to a very large band of the Wal-a-waltz nation, the most numerous we had seen on the Columbia; I suppose it consisted of 500 persons, men, women, and children; and all of them tolerably well clothed children with robes of the skins of the deer, the ibex or big-horned animal and buffalo. They have a great many horses, and lately came to the river to fish for salmon.

[Lewis]
Sunday April 27th 1806.
While here the principal Chief of the Walla Wallas joined us with six men of his nation. This Chief, by name Yellept, had visited us on the morning of the 19 of October at our encampment a little below this place. We gave him at that time a small medal, and promised him a larger one on our return. He appeared much gratified at seeing us return, invited us to remain at his village three or four days and assured us that we should be furnished with a plenty of such food as they had themselves; and some horses to assist us on our journey. After our scanty repast we continued our march accompanied by Yellept and his party to the village which we found at the distance of six miles situated on the north side of the river at the lower side of the low country about 12 miles below the entrance of Lewis's River. This Chief is a man of much influence not only in his own nation but also among the neighboring tribes and nations. This village consists of 15 large mat lodges. At present they seem to subsist principally on a species of mullet which weigh from one to three pounds and roots of various descriptions which these plains furnish them in great abundance. They also take a few salmon trout of the white kind. Yellept harangued his village in our favor, entreated them to furnish us with fuel and provision, and set the example himself by bringing us an armful of wood and a platter of 3 roasted mullets. The others soon followed his example with respect to fuel and we soon found ourselves in possession of an ample stock. They burn the stems of the shrubs in the plains there being no timber in their neighborhood of any description. We purchased four dogs of these people on which the party supped heartily having been on short allowance for near two days. The Indians retired when we requested them this evening and behaved themselves in every respect extremely well. The Indians informed us that there was a good road which passed from the Columbia opposite to this village to the entrance of the Kooskooskee on the south side of Lewis's River. They also informed us that there were a plenty of deer and antelope on the road, with good water and grass. We knew that a road in that direction if the country would permit would shorten our route at least 80 miles. The Indians also informed us that the country was level and the road good. Under these circumstances we did not hesitate in pursuing the route recommended by our guide, whose information was corroborated by Yellept & others.

[Lewis]
Monday April 28th 1806.
This morning early Yellept brought a very elegant white horse to our camp and presented him to Capt. Clark, signifying his wish to get a kettle. But on being informed that we had already disposed of every kettle we could possibly spare he said he was content with whatever he thought proper to give him. Capt. Clark gave him his sword, a hundred balls and powder and some sale articles with which he appeared perfectly satisfied. Being anxious to depart we requested the Chief to furnish us with canoes to pass the river, but he insisted on our remaining with him this day at least, that he would be much pleased if we would consent to remain two or three, but he would not let us have canoes to leave him today. That he had sent for the Chym nap-pos his neighbors to come down and join his people this evening and dance for us. We urged the necessity of our going on immediately in order that we might the sooner return to them with the articles which they wished but this had no effect, he said that the time he asked could not make any considerable difference. I at length urged that there was no wind blowing and that the river was consequently in good order to pass our horses and if he would furnish us with canoes for that purpose we would remain all night at our present encampment. To this proposition he assented and soon produced us a couple of canoes by means of which we passed our horses over the river safely and bubbled them as usual. We found a Shoshone woman, prisoner among these people by means of whom and Sacagawea we found the means of conversing with the Walla Wallas. We conversed with them for several hours and fully satisfied all their inquiries with respect to ourselves and the objects of our pursuit. They were much pleased. They brought several diseased persons to us for whom they requested some medical aid. One had his knee contracted by the rheumatism, another with a broken arm &c., to all of which we administered much to the gratification of those poor wretches. We gave them some eye-water which I believe will render them more essential service than any other article in the medical way which we had it in our power to bestow on them. Sore eyes seem to be a universal complaint among these people; I have no doubt but the fine sand of these plains and river contribute much to this disorder. Ulcers and eruptions of the skin on various parts of the body are also common diseases among them. A little before sunset the Chymnahpos arrived; they were about 100 men and a few women; they joined the Walla Wallas who were about the same number and formed a half circle around our camp where they waited very patiently to see our party dance. The fiddle was played and the men amused themselves with dancing about an hour. We then requested the Indians to dance, which they very cheerfully complied with; they continued their dance until 10 at night. The whole assemblage of Indians about 550 men, women and children, sung and danced at the same time. Most of them stood in the same place and merely jumped up to the time of their music. Some of the men who were esteemed most brave entered the space around which the main body were formed in solid column, and danced in a circular manner sidewise. At 10 P.M. the dance concluded and the natives retired; they were much gratified with seeing some of our party join them in their dance.

[Ordway]
Monday 28th of April 1806.
Our interpreter's wife [Sacagawea] found a woman of her own nation who was a prisoner among these Indians, and as they could speak together our officers spoke to the head chief & told him our business and that the white people would supply them with merchandize at the head of the Missouri &c. The Indians sent their women to gather wood or sticks to see us dance this evening. About 300 of the natives assembled to our camp. We played the fiddle and danced a while. The head chief told our officers that they should be lonesome when we left them and they wished to hear once of our medicine songs and try to learn it and wished us to learn one of theirs and it would make them glad. So our men sang 2 songs which appeared to take great effect on them. They tried to learn singing with us with a low voice. The head chief then made a speech & it was repeated by a warrior that all might hear. Then all the savages, men, women and children of any size danced, forming a circle round a fire & jumping up nearly as other Indians, & keep time very well. They wished our men to dance with them so we danced among them and they were much pleased, and said that they would dance day and night until we return. Every few minutes one of their warriors made a speech, pointing towards the enemy and towards the moon &c. &c. which was all repeated by another medicine man with a louder voice as all might hear. The dance continued until about midnight, then the most of them went away peaceable & have behaved very clever and honest with us as yet, and appear to have a sincere wish to be at peace and to get acquaintance with us &c. &c.

[Lewis]
Tuesday April 29th 1806.
Our guide now informed us that it was too late in the evening to reach an eligible place to encamp; that we could not reach any water before night. We therefore thought it best to remain on the Walla Walla River about a mile from the Columbia until the morning, and accordingly encamped on that river near a fish weir. This weir consists of two curtains of small willow switches matted together with four lines of wythes of the same materials extending quite across the river, parallel with each other and about 6 feet asunder. Those are supported by several parcels of poles placed in the manner before described of the fishing weirs. These curtains of willow are either rolled at one end for a few feet to permit the fish to pass or are let down at pleasure. They take their fish which at present are a mullet only of from one to five pounds, with seines of 15 or 18 feet long drawn by two persons; these they drag down to the weir and raise the bottom of the seine against the willow curtain. They have also a small seine managed by one person; it bags in the manner of the scooping net. The one side of the net is confined to a semi-circular bow of half the size of a man's arm and about 5 feet long. The other side is confined to a strong string which being attached to the extremities of the bow forms the cord line to the semicircle. There are 12 other lodges of the Walla Walla Nation on this river a little distance below our camp. These as well as those beyond the Columbia appear to depend on this fishing weir for their subsistence. These people as well as the Chymnahpos are very well dressed, much more so particularly their women than they were as we descended the river last fall. Most of them have long shirts and leggings, good robes and moccasins. Their women wear the truss when they cannot procure the shirt, but very few are seen with the former at this moment. I presume the success of their winter's hunt has produced this change in their attire. They all cut their hair in their forehead and most of the men wear the two queues over each shoulder in front of the body; some have the addition of a few small plats formed of the earlocks and others tie a small bundle of the docked foretop in front of the forehead. Their ornaments are such as described of the nations below and are worn in a similar manner. They insisted on our dancing this evening but it rained a little, the wind blew hard and the weather was cold. We therefore did not indulge them.

[Lewis]
Wednesday April 30th 1806.
At 10 A.M. we had collected all our horses except the white horse which Yellept had given Capt. Clark. The whole of the men soon after returned without being able to find this horse. I lent my horse to Yellept to search Capt. Clark's. About half an hour after he set out our Chopunnish [Nez Perce] man brought up Capt. Clark's horse. We now determined to leave one man to bring on my horse when Yellept returned and to proceed on with the party. Accordingly we took leave of these friendly, honest people the Walla Wallas and departed at 11 A.M., accompanied by our guide and the Chopunnish man and family. Drewyer killed a beaver and an otter; a part of the former we reserved for ourselves and gave the Indians the balance. These people will not eat the dog but feast heartily on the otter, which is vastly inferior in my estimation. They sometimes also eat their horses. This indeed is common to all the Indians who possess this animal in the plains of Columbia; but it is only done when necessity compels them. These Indians are cruel horse-masters; they ride hard, and their saddles are so illy constructed that they cannot avoid wounding the backs of their horses; but regardless of this they ride them when the backs of those poor animals are in a horrid condition.

[Ordway]
Wednesday 30th of April 1806.
Chilly and cold. The men went out for their horses. An Indian brought a woman to Capt. Clark which [was] diseased, had not the use of her limbs. He brought a fine horse and gave Capt. Clark for doctoring her he gave medicine and told them how to apply it &c. Capt. Clark gave the Indian a white shirt, which pleased him very much. About 11 A.M. we got our horses up by the assistance of the Indians and set out.

[Lewis]
Thursday May 1st 1806.
After we had encamped three young men arrived from the Walla Walla Village bringing with them a steel trap belonging to one of our party which had been negligently left behind; this is an act of integrity rarely witnessed among Indians. During our stay with them they several times found the knives of the men which had been carelessly lost by them and returned them. I think we can justly affirm to the honor of these people that they are the most hospitable, honest, and sincere people that we have met with in our voyage.

[Lewis]
Friday May 2nd 1806.
The three young men of the Walla Walla Nation continued with us. In the course of the day I observed them eat the inner part of the young and succulent stem of a large, coarse plant with a ternate leaf, the leaflets of which are three lobed and covered with a woolly pubescence. The flower and fructification resembles that of the parsnip. This plant is very common in the rich lands on the Ohio and its branches the Mississippi &c. I tasted of this plant found it agreeable and ate heartily of it without feeling any inconvenience.

Did You Know?

Historic Old Courthouse photographed from the corner of 4th and Market

Land for the Historic Old Courthouse was donated in 1816 by Judge John Baptisite Charles Lucas and St. Louis founder Rene Auguste Chouteau. More...