Information on the Shoshone Indians
Recorded by Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
The following excerpts from the journals of Lewis and Clark and their men present a picture of the Lemhi Shoshone 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. Today, the Lemhi Shoshone live on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, far from their original lands at the crest of the Rocky Mountains on the Montana-Idaho border. Sacagawea was born into the Lemhi Shoshone tribe about the year 1788, and spent the first twelve years of her life in this region.
The Lemhi Shoshones were a division of the Northern Shoshones of the Rocky Mountains, known to the Great Plains tribes as "Snakes." The history of the name "Shoshone," historically the name of one of the bands of that tribe, is unknown. The language of the Shoshones is Uto-Aztecan in origin. Unlike the Western Shoshones of the Great Basin, the Northern Shoshones had acquired horses in the years after 1700 and had become buffalo hunters on the plains; hence, they were strongly influenced by plains culture. Having lived on the northern plains in Montana, they were driven west of the Continental Divide by the time of Lewis and Clark, by the Blackfeet, Hidatsa and other tribes. Lewis observed how they mixed traits of the mountains and plains cultures, living part of the year on salmon and roots in the mountain valleys, then hunting buffalo on the western edge of the plains the rest of the time. They were always subject to raids, and their hunts on the plains were dangerous. Their meeting with the explorers was their first direct contact with Anglos, although they had trade goods, including mules.
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 Lemhi Shoshone are not currently a Federally recognized tribe. Many Shoshone live on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.
Chairperson, Shoshone Business Council
P.O. Box 217
Fort Washakie, Wyoming 82514
However, Sacagawea’s people (the Lemhi Shoshone) were exiled to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation (Idaho) after an executive order established the 100 square mile Lemhi Valley Indian Reservation on February 12, 1875. The executive order established the reserve for the exclusive use of the tribes of the Agaidikas (salmon eaters) and the Tukudikas (sheep-eaters) later known as the Lemhi Shoshone, Sacagawea’s people. Many people worked to dissolve the Fort Hall Reservation in the ensuing years, and they ultimately succeeded in 1905. In 1907 the Lemhi Shoshone began what many have called the “Lemhi Trail of Tears,” when they were forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, home of the Sho-Ban Tribes. The official website of the Lemhi Shoshone, designed by Lemhi Shoshone Kel Ariwite, is:
[Lewis - near the northwest end of Shoshone Cove, Montana]
Sunday August 11th 1805
I now sent Drewyer to keep near the creek to my right and Shields to my left, with orders to search for the road, which if they found they were to notify me by placing a hat in the muzzle of their gun. I kept McNeal with me; after having marched in this order for about five miles I discovered an Indian on horse back about two miles distant coming down the plain toward us. With my glass I discovered from his dress that he was of a different nation from any that we had yet seen, and was satisfied of his being a Shoshone. His arms were a bow and quiver of arrows, and was mounted on an elegant horse without a saddle, and a small string which was attached to the underjaw of the horse which answered as a bridle. I was overjoyed at the sight of this stranger and had no doubt of obtaining a friendly introduction to his nation, provided I could get near enough to him to convince him of our being white men. I therefore proceeded towards him at my usual pace. When I had arrived within about a mile he made a halt which I did also, and unloosing my blanket from my pack, I made him the signal of friendship known to the Indians of the Rocky Mountains and those of the Missouri, which is by holding the mantle or robe in your hands at two corners and then throwing it up in the air higher than the head, bringing it to the earth as if in the act of spreading it, thus repeating three times. This signal of the robe has arisen from a custom among all those nations of spreading a robe or skin for their guests to sit on when they are visited. This signal had not the desired effect; he still kept his position and seemed to view Drewyer and Shields, who were now coming in sight on either hand, with an air of suspicion. I would willingly have made them halt, but they were too far distant to hear me and I feared to make any signal to them lest it should increase the suspicion in the mind of the Indian of our having some unfriendly design upon him. I therefore hastened to take out of my sack some beads, a looking glass and a few trinkets which I had brought with me for this purpose, and leaving my gun and pouch with McNeal advanced unarmed towards him. He remained in the same steadfast posture until I arrived in about 200 paces of him, when he turned his horse about and began to move off slowly from me. I now called to him in as loud a voice as I could command, repeating the word tab-ba-bone, which in their language signifies white man. But looking over his shoulder he still kept his eye on Drewyer and Shields, who were still advancing, neither of them having sagacity enough to recollect the impropriety of advancing when they saw me thus in parley with the Indian. I now made a signal to these men to halt. Drewyer obeyed but Shields, who afterwards told me that he did not observe the signal, still kept on. The Indian halted again and turned his horse about as if to wait for me, and I believe he would have remained until I came up with him had it not been for Shields, who still pressed forward. When I arrived within about 150 paces I again repeated the word tab-ba-bone and held up the trinkets in my hands and stripped up my shirtsleeve to give him an opportunity of seeing the color of my skin, and advanced leisurely towards him. But he did not remain until I got nearer than about 100 paces, when he suddenly turned his horse about, gave him the whip, leapt the creek and disappeared in the willow brush in an instant; and with him vanished all my hopes of obtaining horses for the present.
Monday August 12th 1805
This morning sent Drewyer out as soon as it was light, to try and discover what route the Indians had taken. At the distance of about 4 miles we passed 4 small rivulets near each other, on which we saw some recent bowers or small conic lodges formed with willow brush. Near them the Indians had gathered a number of roots from the manner in which they had torn up the ground; but I could not discover the root which they seemed to be in search of.
Tuesday August 13th 1805
We had proceeded about four miles through a wavy plain parallel to the valley or river bottom when at the distance of about a mile we saw two women, a man and some dogs on an eminence immediately before us. They appeared to view us with attention and two of them after a few minutes sat down as if to wait our arrival. We continued our usual pace towards them. When we had arrived within half a mile of them I directed the party to halt, and leaving my pack and rifle I took the flag which I unfurled and advanced singly towards them. The women soon disappeared behind the hill, the man continued until I arrived within a hundred yards of him and then likewise absconded, though I frequently repeated the word tab-ba-bone sufficiently loud for him to have heard it. I now hastened to the top of the hill where they had stood but could see nothing of them. The dogs were less shy than their masters. They came about me pretty close; I therefore thought of tying a handkerchief about one of their necks with some beads and other trinkets and then let them loose to search their fugitive owners, thinking by this means to convince them of our pacific disposition towards them. But the dogs would not suffer me to take hold of them; they also soon disappeared. I now made a signal from the men to come on, they joined me and we pursued the back track of these Indians, which led us along the same road which we had been traveling. We had not continued our route more than a mile when we were so fortunate as to meet with three female savages. The short and steep ravines which we passed concealed us from each other until we arrived within 30 paces. A young woman immediately took to flight, an elderly woman and a girl of about 12 years old remained. I instantly laid by my gun and advanced towards them. They appeared much alarmed but saw that we were too near for them to escape by flight. They therefore seated themselves on the ground, holding down their heads as if reconciled to die, which they expected no doubt would be their fate. I took the elderly woman by the hand and raised her up, repeated the word tab-babone and stripped up my shirt sleeve to show her my skin, to prove to her the truth of the assertion that I was a white man, for my face and hands, which have been constantly exposed to the sun, were quite as dark as their own. They appeared instantly reconciled, and the men coming up I gave these women some beads, a few moccasin awls, some pewter looking glasses and a little paint. I directed Drewyer to request the old woman to recall the young woman who had run off to some distance, by this time fearing she might alarm the camp before we approached and might so exasperate the natives that they would perhaps attack us without inquiring who we were. The old woman did as she was requested and the fugitive soon returned, almost out of breath. I bestowed an equivalent portion of trinkets on her with the others. I now painted their tawny cheeks with some vermillion which with this nation is emblematic of peace. After they had become composed I informed them by signs that I wished them to conduct us to their camp, that we were anxious to become acquainted with the chiefs and warriors of their nation. They readily obeyed and set out, still pursuing the road down the river. We had marched about 2 miles when we met a party of about 60 warriors mounted on excellent horses who came in nearly full speed. When they arrived I advanced towards them with the flag, leaving my gun with the party about 50 paces behind me. The chief and two others who were a little in advance of the main body spoke to the women, and they informed them who we were and exultingly showed the presents which had been given them. These men then advanced and embraced me very affectionately in their way, which is by putting their left arm over your right shoulder, clasping your back, while they apply their left cheek to yours and frequently vociferate the word ah-hi'-e, ah-hi'-es, that is, I am much pleased, I am much rejoiced. Both parties now advanced and we were all caressed and besmeared with their grease and paint till I was heartily tired of the national hug. I now had the pipe lit and gave them smoke. They seated themselves in a circle around us and pulled off their moccasins before they would receive or smoke the pipe. This is a custom among them as I afterwards learned indicative of a sacred obligation of sincerity in their profession of friendship given by the act of receiving and smoking the pipe of a stranger. Or which is as much as to say that they wish they may always go barefoot if they are not sincere; a pretty heavy penalty if they are to march through the plains of their country. After smoking a few pipes with them I distributed some trifles among them, with which they seemed much pleased, particularly with the blue beads and vermillion. I now informed the chief that the object of our visit was a friendly one, that after we should reach his camp I would undertake to explain to him fully those objects, who we were, from whence we had come and wither we were going; that in the meantime I did not care how soon we were in motion, as the sun was very warm and no water at hand. They now put on their moccasins, and the principal chief Cameahwait made a short speech to the warriors. I gave him the flag which I informed him was an emblem of peace among white men, and now that it had been received by him it was to be respected as the bond of union between us. I desired him to march on, which he did and we followed him; the dragoons moved on in squadron in our rear. They were armed with bows, arrow and shield, except three whom I observed with small pieces such as the Northwest Company furnish the natives with which they had obtained from the Rocky Mountain Indians on the Yellowstone River with whom they are at peace. On our arrival at their encampment on the river in a handsome level and fertile bottom at the distance of 4 miles from where we had first met them they introduced us to a lodge made of willow brush and an old leather lodge which had been prepared for our reception by the young men which the chief had dispatched for that purpose. Here we were seated on green boughs and the skins of antelopes. One of the warriors then pulled up the grass in the center of the lodge, forming a small circle of about 2 feet in diameter. The chief next produced his pipe and native tobacco and began a long ceremony of the pipe when we were requested to take off our moccasins, the Chief having previously taken off his as well as all the warriors present. This we complied with; the Chief then lit his pipe at the fire kindled in this little magic circle, and standing on the opposite side of the circle uttered a speech of several minutes in length, at the conclusion of which he pointed the stem to the four cardinal points of the heavens, first beginning at the east and ending with the north. He now presented the pipe to me as if desirous that I should smoke, but when I reached my hand to receive it, he drew it back and repeated the same ceremony three times, after which he pointed the stem first to the heavens then to the center of the magic circle, smoked himself with three whiffs and held the pipe until I took as many as I thought proper. He then held it to each of the white persons and then gave it to be consumed by his warriors. This pipe was made of a dense semitransparent green stone, very highly polished, about 2_ inches long and of an oval figure, the bowl being in the same direction with the stem. A small piece of burned clay is placed in the bottom of the bowl to separate the tobacco from the end of the stem and is of an irregularly rounded figure not fitting the tube perfectly close in order that the smoke may pass. This is the form of the pipe. Their tobacco is of the same kind of that used by the Hidatsas, Mandans and Arikaras of the Missouri. The Shoshones do not cultivate this plant, but obtain it from the Rocky Mountain Indians and some of the bands of their own nation who live further south. I now explained to them the objects of our journey &c. All the women and children of the camp were shortly collected about the lodge to indulge themselves with looking at us, we being the first white persons they had ever seen. After the ceremony of the pipe was over I distributed the remainder of the small articles I had brought with me among the women and children. By this time it was late in the evening and we had not tasted any food since the evening before. The Chief informed us that they had nothing but berries to eat and gave us some cakes of serviceberries and chokecherries which had been dried in the sun. Of these I made a hearty meal, and then walked to the river, which I found about 40 yards wide very rapid, clear and about feet 3 deep. The banks low and abrupt as those of the upper part of the Missouri, and the bed formed of loose stones and gravel. Cameahwait informed me that this stream discharged itself into another doubly as large at the distance of half a days march, which came from the southwest, but he added on further inquiry that there was but little more timber below the junction of those rivers than I saw here, and that the river was confined between inaccessible mountains, was very rapid and rocky, insomuch that it was impossible for us to pass either by land or water down this river to the great lake where the white men lived as he had been informed. This was unwelcome information, but I still hoped that this account had been exaggerated with a view to detain us among them. These people had been attacked by the Hidatsas of Fort de Prairie this spring and about 20 of them killed and taken prisoners. On this occasion they lost a great part of their horses and all their lodges except that which they had erected for our accommodation; they were now living in lodges of a conic figure made of willow brush. I still observe a great number of horses feeding in every direction around their camp, and therefore entertain but little doubt but we shall be enable to furnish ourselves with an adequate number to transport our stores, even if we are compelled to travel by land over these mountains. On my return to my lodge an Indian called me into his bower and gave me a small morsel of the flesh of an antelope boiled, and a piece of a fresh salmon roasted, both which I ate with a very good relish. This was the first salmon I had seen and perfectly convinced me that we were on the waters of the Pacific Ocean. This evening the Indians entertained us with their dancing nearly all night. At 12 o'clock I grew sleepy and retired to rest, leaving the men to amuse themselves with the Indians. I observe no essential difference between the music and manner of dancing among this nation and those of the Missouri. I was several times awoke in the course of the night by their yells, but was too much fatigued to be deprived of a tolerable sound night's repose.
[Lewis – in the Shoshone camp near Tendoy, Idaho]
Wednesday August 14th
As we had nothing but a little flour and parched meal to eat except the berries with which the Indians furnished us I directed Drewyer and Shields to hunt a few hours and try to kill something. The Indians furnished them with horses and most of their young men also turned out to hunt. The game which they principally hunt is the antelope, which they pursue on horseback and shoot with their arrows. This animal is so extremely fleet and durable that a single horse has no possible chance to overtake them or run them down. The Indians are therefore obliged to have recourse to stratagem when they discover a herd of the antelope. They separate and scatter themselves to the distance of five or six miles in different directions around them, generally selecting some commanding eminence for a stand. Some one or two now pursue the herd at full speed over the hills, valleys, gullies and the sides of precipices that are tremendous to view. Thus after running them from five to six or seven miles the fresh horses that were in waiting head them and drive them back, pursuing them as far or perhaps further quite to the other extreme of the hunters, who now in turn pursue on their fresh horses thus (finally) worrying the poor animal down and finally killing them with their arrows. Forty or fifty hunters will be engaged for half a day in this manner and perhaps not kill more than two or three antelopes. They have but few elk or black tailed deer, and the common red deer they cannot take as they secrete themselves in the brush when pursued, and they have only the bow and arrow which is a very slender dependence for killing any game except such as they can run down with their horses. I was very much entertained with a view of this Indian chase; it was after a herd of about 10 antelope and about 20 hunters. It lasted about 2 hours and considerable part of the chase in view from my tent. About 1 A.M. the hunters returned, had not killed a single antelope, and their horses foaming with sweat. My hunters returned soon after and had been equally unsuccessful. The means I had of communicating with these people was by way of Drewyer, who understood perfectly the common language of gesticulation or signs which seems to be universally understood by all the nations we have yet seen. It is true that this language is imperfect and liable to error but is much less so than would be expected. The strong parts of the ideas are seldom mistaken. I now prevailed on the Chief to instruct me with respect to the geography of his country. This he undertook very cheerfully, by delineating the rivers on the ground. But I soon found that his information fell far short of my expectation or wishes. He drew the river on which we now are, to which he placed two branches just above us, which he showed me from the openings of the mountains were in view. He next made it discharge itself into a large river which flowed from the southwest about ten miles below us, then continued this joint stream in the same direction of this valley, or northwest, for one day’s march, and then inclined it to the west for 2 more days march. Here he placed a number of heaps of sand on each side which he informed me represented the vast mountains of rock eternally covered with snow through which the river passed. That the perpendicular and even jutting rocks so closely hemmed in the river, that there was no possibility of passing along the shore, that the bed of the river was obstructed by sharp pointed rocks and the rapidity of the stream such that the whole surface of the river was beat into perfect foam as far as the eye could reach, that the mountains were also inaccessible to man or horse. He said that this being the state of the country in that direction that himself nor none of his nation had ever been further down the river than these mountains. I then inquired the state of the country on either side of the river but he could not inform me. He said there was an old man of his nation a days march below who could probably give me some information of the country to the northwest and referred me to an old man then present for that to the southwest. The Chief further informed me that he had understood from the pierced nosed Indians [Nez Perce] who inhabit this river below the Rocky Mountains that it ran a great way toward the setting sun and finally lost itself in a great lake of water which was ill tasted, and where the white men lived. I next commenced my inquiries of the old man to whom I had been referred for information relative the country southwest of us. This he depicted with horrors and obstructions scarcely inferior to that just mentioned. He informed me that the band of this nation to which he belonged resided at the distance of 20 days march from hence, not far from the white people with whom they traded for horses, mules, cloth, metal beads and the shells which they wore as ornament being those of a species of pearl oyster. That the course to his relations was a little to the west of south. That in order to get to his relations the first seven days we should be obliged to climb over steep and rocky mountains where we could find no game to kill nor anything but roots such as a fierce and warlike nation lived on whom he called the broken moccasins or moccasins with holes, and said inhabited those mountains and lived like the bear of other countries among the rocks and fed on roots or the flesh of such horses as they could take or steal from those who passed through their country. That in passing this country the feet of our horses would be so much wounded with the stones many of them would give out. The next part of the route was about 10 days through a dry and parched sandy desert in which no food at this season for either man or horse, and in which we must suffer if not perish for the want of water. That the sun had now dried up the little pools of water which exist through this desert plain in the spring season and had also scorched all the grass. That no animal inhabited this plain on which we could hope to subsist. That about the center of this plain a large river passed from southeast to northwest which was navigable but afforded neither salmon nor timber. That beyond this plain three or four days march his relations lived in a country tolerable fertile and partially covered with timber on another large river which ran in the same direction of the former. That this last discharged itself into a large river on which many numerous nations lived with whom his relations were at war, but whether this last discharged itself into the great lake or not he did not know. That from his relations it was yet a great distance to the great or stinking lake as they call the ocean. That the way which such of his nation as had been to the stinking lake traveled was up the river on which they lived and over to that on which the white people lived, which last they knew discharged itself into the ocean, and that this was the way which he would advise me to travel if I was determined to proceed to the ocean, but would advise me to put off the journey until the next spring when he would conduct me. I thanked him for his information and advice and gave him a knife with which he appeared to be much gratified. From this narrative I was convinced that the streams of which he had spoken as running through the plains and that on which his relations lived were southern branches of the Columbia, heading with the rivers Apostles and Colorado, and that the route he had pointed out was to the Vermillion Sea or Gulf of California. I therefore told him that this route was more to the south than I wished to travel, and requested to know if there was no route on the left of this river on which we now are, by means of which I could intercept it below the mountains through which it passes. But he could not inform me of any except that of the barren plain which he said joined the mountain on that side and through which it was impossible for us to pass at this season, even if we were fortunate enough to escape from the broken moccasin Indians. I now asked Cameahwait by what route the Pierced Nosed Indians, who he informed me inhabited this river below the mountains, came over to the Missouri; this he informed me was to the north, but added that the road was a very bad one as he had been informed by them and that they had suffered excessively with hunger on the route, being obliged to subsist for many days on berries alone as there was no game in that part of the mountains, which were broken, rocky and so thickly covered with timber that they could scarcely pass. However, knowing that Indians had passed, and did pass, at this season on that side of this river to the same below the mountains, my route was instantly settled in my own mind, provided the account of this river should prove true on an investigation of it, which I was determined should be made before we would undertake the route by land in any direction. I felt perfectly satisfied that if the Indians could pass these mountains with their women and children, that we could also pass them; and that if the nations on this river below the mountains were as numerous as they were stated to be that they must have some means of subsistence which it would be equally in our power to procure in the same country. They informed me that there was no buffalo on the west side of these mountains; that the game consisted of a few elk, deer and antelopes, and that the natives subsisted on fish and roots principally. In this manner I spent the day smoking with them and acquiring what information I could with respect to their country. They informed me that they could pass to the Spaniards by the way of the Yellowstone River in 10 days. I can discover that these people are by no means friendly to the Spaniards. Their complaint is that the Spaniards will not let them have firearms and ammunition, that they put them off by telling them that if they suffer them to have guns they will kill each other, thus leaving them defenseless and an easy prey to their bloodthirsty neighbors to the east of them, who being in possession of firearms hunt them up and murder them without respect to sex or age and plunder them of their horses on all occasions. They told me that to avoid their enemies who were eternally harassing them that they were obliged to remain in the interior of these mountains at least two thirds of the year where they suffered, as we then saw great hardships for the want of food, sometimes living for weeks without meat and only a little fish, roots and berries. But this added Cameahwait, with his fierce eyes and lank jaws grown meager for the want of food, would not be the case if we had guns. We could then live in the country of buffalo and eat as our enemies do and not be compelled to hide ourselves in these mountains and live on roots and berries as the bear do. We do not fear our enemies when placed on an equal footing with them. I told them that the Hidatsas, Mandans & Arikaras of the Missouri had promised us to desist from making war on them & that we would endeavor to find the means of making the Hidatsas of Fort de Prairie, or as they call them Pawnees, desist from waging war against them also. That after our finally returning to our homes towards the rising sun white men would come to them with an abundance of guns and every other article necessary to their defense and comfort, and that they would be enabled to supply themselves with these articles on reasonable terms in exchange for the skins of the beaver, otter and ermine so abundant in their country. They expressed great pleasure at this information and said they had been long anxious to see the white men that traded guns; and that we might rest assured of their friendship and that they would do whatever we wished them. I now told Cameahwait that I wished him to speak to his people and engage them to go with me tomorrow to the forks of Jefferson’s River where our baggage was by this time arrived with another Chief and a large party of white men who would wait my return at that place. That I wish them to take with them about 30 spare horses to transport our baggage to this place where we would then remain some time among them and trade with them for horses, and finally concert our future plans for getting on to the ocean and of the trade which would be extended to them after our return to our homes. He complied with my request and made a lengthy harangue to his village. He returned in about an hour and a half and informed me that they would be ready to accompany me in the morning. I promised to reward them for their trouble. Drewyer, who had had a good view of their horses, estimated them at 400. Most of them are fine horses. Indeed many of them would make a figure on the south side of James River or the land of fine horses. I saw several with Spanish brands on them, and some mules which they informed me that they had also obtained from the Spaniards. I also saw a bridle bit of Spanish manufactory, and sundry other articles which I have no doubt were obtained from the same source. Notwithstanding the extreme poverty of those poor people they are very merry. They danced again this evening until midnight. Each warrior keeps one or more horses tied by a cord to a stake near his lodge both day and night and are always prepared for action at a moment’s warning. They fight on horseback altogether. I observe that the large flies are extremely troublesome to the horses as well as ourselves.
Thursday August 15th 1805.
At half after 12 we set out, several of the old women were crying and imploring the Great Spirit to protect their warriors as if they were going to inevitable destruction. We had not proceeded far before our party was augmented by ten or twelve more, and before we reached the creek which we had passed in the morning of the 13th it appeared to me that we had all the men of the village and a number of women with us. This may serve in some measure to illustrate the capricious disposition of those people, who never act but from the impulse of the moment. They were now very cheerful and gay, and two hours ago they looked as surly as so many imps of Saturn. When we arrived at the spring on the side of the mountain where we had encamped on the 12th the Chief insisted on halting to let the horses graze, with which I complied and gave the Indians smoke. They are excessively fond of the pipe, but have it not much in their power to indulge themselves with even their native tobacco as they do not cultivate it themselves. After remaining about an hour we again set out, and by engaging to make compensation to four of them for their trouble obtained the privilege of riding with an Indian myself and a similar situation for each of my party. I soon found it more tiresome riding without stirrups than walking, and of course chose the latter, making the Indian carry my pack. About sunset we reached the upper part of the level valley of the cove which we now called Shoshone Cove.
Friday August 16th 1805.
After the hunters had been gone about an hour we set out. We had just passed through the narrows when we saw one of the spies coming up the level plain under whip. The Chief paused a little and seemed somewhat concerned. I felt a good deal so myself and began to suspect that by some unfortunate accident that perhaps some of their enemies had straggled hither at this unlucky moment. But we were all agreeably disappointed on the arrival of the young man to learn that he had come to inform us that one of the white men had killed a deer. In an instant they all gave their horses the whip and I was taken nearly a mile before I could learn what were the tidings. As I was without stirrups and an Indian behind me, the jostling was disagreeable. I therefore reigned up my horse and forbid the Indian to whip him, who had given him the lash at every jump for a mile, fearing he should loose a part of the feast. The fellow was so uneasy that he left me the horse, dismounted, and ran on foot at full speed, I am confident a mile. When they arrived where the deer was, which was in view of me, they dismounted and ran in, tumbling over each other like a parcel of famished dogs, each seizing and tearing away a part of the intestines which had been previously thrown out by Drewyer who killed it. The scene was such when I arrived that had I not have had a pretty keen appetite myself I am confident I should not have tasted any part of the venison shortly. Each one had a piece of some description, and all eating most ravenously. Some were eating the kidneys, the melt [spleen] and liver and the blood running from the corners of their mouths, others were in a similar situation with the paunch and guts, but the exuding substance in this case from their lips was of a different description. One of the last who attracted my attention particularly had been fortunate in his allotment, or rather active in the division. He had provided himself with about nine feet of the small guts, one end of which he was chewing on while with his hands he was squeezing the contents out at the other. I really did not until now think that human nature ever presented itself in a shape so nearly allayed to the brute creation. I viewed these poor starved devils with pity and compassion. I directed McNeal to skin the deer and reserved a quarter, the balance I gave the Chief to be divided among his people; they devoured the whole of it nearly without cooking. I now bore obliquely to the left in order to intercept the creek where there was some brush to make a fire, and arrived at this stream where Drewyer had killed a second deer; here nearly the same scene was encored. A fire being kindled, we cooked and ate and gave the balance of the two deer to the Indians, who ate the whole of them, even to the soft parts of the hoofs. Drewyer joined us at breakfast with a third deer. Of this I reserved a quarter and gave the balance to the Indians. They all appeared now to have filled themselves and were in a good humor.
Saturday August 17th 1805.
Drewyer had been gone about 2 hours when an Indian who had straggled some little distance down the river returned and reported that the white men were coming, that he had seen them just below. They all appeared transported with joy, & the Chief repeated his fraternal hug. I felt quite as much gratified at this information as the Indians appeared to be. Shortly after, Capt. Clark arrived with the interpreter Charbonneau, and the Indian woman [Sacagawea] proved to be a sister of the Chief Cameahwait. The meeting of those two people was really affecting, particularly between Sah cah-gar-we-a and an Indian woman who had been taken prisoner at the same time with her, and who had afterwards escaped from the Hidatsas and rejoined her nation. We now formed our camp just below the junction of the forks on the larboard side in a level smooth bottom covered with a fine turf of greensward. Here we unloaded our canoes and arranged our baggage on shore; formed a canopy of one of our large sails and planted some willow brush in the ground to form a shade for the Indians to sit under while we spoke to them, which we thought it best to do this evening. Accordingly, about 4 P.M. we called them together and through the medium of Labiche, Charbonneau and Sah-cah-gar-weah, we communicated to them fully the objects which had brought us into this distant part of the country, in which we took care to make them a conspicuous object of our own good wishes and the care of our government. We made them sensible of their dependence on the will of our government for every species of merchandize as well for their defense & comfort; and apprized them of the strength of our government and its friendly dispositions towards them. We also gave them as a reason why we wished to penetrate the country as far as the ocean to the west of them was to examine and find out a more direct way to bring merchandise to them. That at present we wished them to collect as many horses as were necessary to transport our baggage to their village on the Columbia, where we would then trade with them at our leisure for such horses as they could spare us. They appeared well pleased with what had been said. The chief thanked us for friendship towards himself and nation & declared his wish to serve us in every respect. That he was sorry to find that it must yet be some time before they could be furnished with firearms, but said they could live as they had done heretofore until we brought them as we had promised. He said they had not horses enough with them at present to remove our baggage to their village over the mountain, but that he would return tomorrow and encourage his people to come over with their horses and that he would bring his own and assist us. This was complying with all we wished at present. We next inquired who were chiefs among them. Cameahwait pointed out two others whom he said were Chiefs. We gave him a medal of the small size with the likeness of Mr. Jefferson the President of the U. States in relief on one side and clasped hands with a pipe and tomahawk on the other. To the other Chiefs we gave each a small medal which were struck in the Presidency of George Washington Esq. We also gave small medals of the last description to two young men whom the 1st Chief informed us were good young men and much respected among them. We gave the 1st Chief a uniform coat, shirt, a pair of scarlet leggings, a carrot of tobacco and some small articles. To each of the others we gave a shirt, leggings, handkerchief, a knife some tobacco and a few small articles. We also distributed a good quantity of paint, moccasin awls, knives, beads, looking glasses &c. among the other Indians and gave them a plentiful meal of lyed corn which was the first they had ever eaten in their lives. They were much pleased with it. Every article about us appeared to excite astonishment in their minds; the appearance of the men, their arms, the canoes, our manner of working them, the black man York and the sagacity of my dog were equally objects of admiration. I also shot my air gun, which was so perfectly incomprehensible that they immediately denominated it the great medicine. The idea which the Indians mean to convey by this appellation is something that emanates from or acts immediately by the influence or power of the Great Spirit; or that in which the power of God is manifest by its incomprehensible power of action. Our hunters killed 4 deer and an antelope this evening, of which we also gave the Indians a good proportion. The ceremony of our council and smoking the pipe was in conformity of the custom of this nation performed barefoot. On those occasions points of etiquette are quite as much attended to by the Indians as among civilized nations. To keep Indians in a good humor you must not fatigue them with too much business at one time. Therefore, after the council we gave them to eat and amused them awhile by showing them such articles as we thought would be entertaining to them, and then renewed our inquiries with respect to the country.
August 17th Saturday 1805
I had not proceeded on one mile before I saw at a distance several Indians on horseback coming towards me. The interpreter & squaw [Sacagawea] who were before me at some distance danced for the joyful sight, and she made signs to me that they were her nation. As I approached nearer them discovered one of Capt. Lewis’s party with them dressed in their dress. They met me with great signs of joy. As the canoes were proceeding on nearly opposite me I turned those people & joined Capt. Lewis, who had camped with 16 of those Snake Indians at the forks 2 miles in advance. Those Indians sung all the way to their camp where the others had provided a kind of shade of willows stuck up in a circle. The three Chiefs with Capt. Lewis met me with great cordiality, embraced and took a seat on a white robe. The Main Chief immediately tied to my hair six small pieces of shells resembling pearl, which are highly valued by those people and are procured from the nations residing near the seacoast. We then smoked in their fashion, without shoes and without much ceremony and form. Capt. Lewis informed me he found those people on the Columbia River about 40 miles from the forks. At that place there was a large camp of them. He had persuaded those with him to come and see that what he said was the truth. They had been under great apprehension all the way, for fear of their being deceived. The Great Chief of this nation proved to be the brother of the woman with us [Sacagawea] and is a man of influence, sense & easy & reserved manners, appears to possess a great deal of sincerity. Those people greatly pleased, our hunters killed three deer & an antelope which was eaten in a short time, the Indians being so harassed & compelled to move about in those rugged mountains that they are half starved, living at this time on berries & roots which they gather in the plains. Those people are not beggarly but generous, only one has asked me for anything, and he for powder. This nation call themselves Cho-shon-ne, the Chief is named Too-et-te-conl; Black Gun is his war name, Ka-me-ah-wah or Come & Smoke. This Chief gave me the following name and pipe Ka-me-ah-wah.
Saturday 17th August 1805.
We took an early breakfast and set out. Proceeded on a short distance, heard some Indians singing on shore on the larboard side; directly came up several of the Snake Nation on horseback. They told us that Capt. Lewis and party were at the forks waiting our arrival. Capt. Clark, the interpreter [Charbonneau] & wife [Sacagawea] went with them to Capt. Lewis’s camp. The natives rode back & forth on the shore to see us come up with the canoes. We hauled the canoes over a great number of shoal places and arrived at Capt. Lewis’s camp about 10 o'clock A.M. a little below the forks. There was 20 odd of the Snake Nation Indians camped here which came over the mountains with Capt. Lewis. They appeared very friendly. The native’s horses appear good and in tolerable order, but they are very poor. Nothing to be seen amongst them but their horses & 2 or 3 guns, but no ammunition. They are dressed tolerably well in antelope & mountain ram’s skins well dressed. A few beads hung in their ears with mussel shells &c., their hair short the most of them. We expect they get their horses from the Spanish and what other little art articles they have, but they have no knives, tomahawks nor no weapons of war except their bow & arrows. It is only by their account 8 days travel to the south to the Spanish country. The natives gave Capt. Lewis ear bobs to put in [his] ears and an ornament to spread over his shoulders, which was made of white weasel tails & fastened on an otter’s skin [tippet]. They fixed off all the men in the same way who were returning with Capt. Lewis. They take us round the neck and squeeze us in token of friendship as they have a practice, instead of shaking hands.
Sunday August 18th 1805.
I soon obtained three very good horses for which I gave a uniform coat, a pair of leggings, a few handkerchiefs, three knives and some other small articles, the whole of which did not cost more than about $20 in the U. States. The Indians seemed quite as well pleased with their bargain as I was. The men also purchased one for an old checked shirt, a pair of old leggings and a knife. Two of those I purchased Capt. Clark took on with him.
Monday August 19th 1805.
From what has (already) been said of the Shoshones it will be readily perceived that they live in a wretched state of poverty. Yet notwithstanding their extreme poverty they are not only cheerful but even gay, fond of gaudy dress and amusements. Like most other Indians they are great egotists and frequently boast of heroic acts which they never performed. They are also fond of games of risk. They are frank, communicative, fair in dealing, generous with the little they possess, extremely honest, and by no means beggarly. Each individual is his own sovereign master, and acts from the dictates of his own mind. The authority of the Chief being nothing more than mere admonition supported by the influence which the propriety of his own exemplary conduct may have acquired him in the minds of the individuals who compose the band. The title of chief is not hereditary, nor can I learn that there is any ceremony of installment, or other epoch in the life of a Chief from which his title as such can be dated. In fact every man is a chief, but all have not an equal influence on the minds of the other members of the community, and he who happens to enjoy the greatest share of confidence is the principal Chief. The Shoshones may be estimated at about 100 warriors, and about three times that number of women and children. They have more children among them than I expected to have seen among a people who procure subsistence with such difficulty. There are but few very old persons, nor did they appear to treat those with much tenderness or respect. The man is the sole proprietor of his wives and daughters, and can barter or dispose of either as he thinks proper. A plurality of wives is common among them, but these are not generally sisters as with the Hidatsas & Mandans but are purchased of different fathers. The father frequently disposes of his infant daughters in marriage to men who are grown or to men who have sons for whom they think proper to provide wives. The compensation given in such cases usually consists of horses or mules which the father receives at the time of contract and converts to his own use. The girl remains with her parents until she is conceived to have obtained the age of puberty, which with them is considered to be about the age of 13 or 14 years. The female at this age is surrendered to her sovereign lord and husband agreeably to contract, and with her is frequently restored by the father quite as much as he received in the first instance in payment for his daughter; but this is discretionary with the father. Sah-car-gar-we-ah [Sacagawea] had been thus disposed of before she was taken by the Hidatsas, or had arrived to the years of puberty. The husband was yet living and with this band. He was more than double her age and had two other wives. He claimed her as his wife but said that as she had had a child by another man, who was Charbonneau, that he did not want her. They seldom correct their children, particularly the boys, who soon become masters of their own acts. They give as a reason that it cows and breaks the spirit of the boy to whip him, and that he never recovers his independence of mind after he is grown. They treat their women but with little respect, and compel them to perform every species of drudgery. They collect the wild fruits and roots, attend to the horses or assist in that duty, dress the skins and make all their apparel, collect wood and make their fires, arrange and form their lodges, and when they travel pack the horses and take care of all the baggage; in short the man does little else except attend his horses, hunt and fish. The man considers himself degraded if he is compelled to walk any distance, and if he is so unfortunately poor as only to possess two horses he rides the best himself and leaves the woman, or women if he has more than one, to transport their baggage and children on the other, and to walk if the horse is unable to carry the additional weight of their persons. The chastity of their women is not held in high estimation, and the husband will for a trifle barter the companion of his bed for a night or longer if he conceives the reward adequate; though they are not so importunate that we should caress their women as the Sioux were and some of their women appear to be held more sacred than in any nation we have seen. I have requested the men to give them no cause of jealousy by having connection with their women without their knowledge, which with them, strange as it may seem, is considered as disgraceful to the husband as clandestine connections of a similar kind are among civilized nations. To prevent this mutual exchange of good offices altogether I know it is impossible to effect, particularly on the part of our young men, whom some months abstinence have made very polite to those tawny damsels. No evil has yet resulted and I hope will not from these connections. Notwithstanding the late loss of horses which this people sustained by the Hidatsas, the stock of the band may be very safely estimated at seven hundred, of which they are perhaps about 40 colts and half that number of mules. These people are diminutive in stature, thick ankles, crooked legs, thick flat feet and in short but ill formed, at least much more so in general than any nation of Indians I ever saw. Their complexion is much that of the Sioux or darker than the Hidatsas, Mandans or Shawnees. Generally both men and women wear their hair in a loose, lank flow over the shoulders and face; though I observed some few men who confined their hair in two equal cues hanging over each ear and drawn in front of the body. The queue is formed with thongs of dressed leather or otterskin alternately crossing each other. At present most of them have cut short in the neck in consequence of the loss of their relations by the Hidatsas. Cameahwait has his cut close all over his head. This constitutes their ceremony of mourning for their deceased relations. The dress of the men consists of a robe, long leggings, shirt, tippet and moccasins, that of the women are also a robe, chemise, and moccasins. Sometimes they make use of short leggings. The ornaments of both men and women are very similar, and consist of several species of seashells, blue and white beads, brass and iron arm bands, plaited cords of the sweet grass, and collars of leather ornamented with the quills of the porcupine dyed of various colors, among which I observed the red, yellow, blue, and black. The ear is perforated in the lower part to receive various ornaments, but the nose is not, nor is the ear lacerated or disfigured for this purpose as among many nations. The men never mark their skins by burning, cutting, nor puncturing and introducing a coloring matter as many nations do. Their women sometimes puncture a small circle on their forehead, nose or cheeks and thus introduce a black matter, usually soot and grease, which leaves an indelible stain, though this even is by no means common. Their arms offensive and defensive consist in the bow and arrows, shield, some lances, and a weapon called by the Chippewas, who formerly used it, the pog-gar'-mag-gon'. In fishing they employ weirs, gigs, and fishing hooks. The salmon is the principal object of their pursuit. They snare wolves and foxes. I was anxious to learn whether these people had the venereal, and made the inquiry through the interpreter and his wife [Charbonneau and Sacagawea]. The information was that they sometimes had it but I could not learn their remedy. They most usually die with its effects. This seems a strong proof that these disorders, both gonorrhea and Louis veneri, are native disorders of America. Though these people have suffered much by the smallpox which is known to be imported and perhaps those other disorders might have been contracted from other Indian tribes who by a round of communication might have obtained from the Europeans since it was introduced into that quarter of the globe. But so much detached on the other hand from all communication with the whites that I think it most probable that those disorders are original with them. From the middle of May to the first of September these people reside on the waters of the Columbia where they consider themselves in perfect security from their enemies, as they have not as yet ever found their way to this retreat. During this season the salmon furnish the principal part of their subsistence, and as this first either perishes or returns about the 1st of September they are compelled at this season in search of subsistence to resort to the Missouri, in the valleys of which there is more game even within the mountains. Here they move slowly down the river in order to collect and join other bands, either of their own nation or the Flatheads, and having become sufficiently strong as they conceive venture on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains into the plains, where the buffalo abound. But they never leave the interior of the mountains while they can obtain a scanty subsistence, and always return as soon as they have acquired a good stock of dried meat in the plains. When this stock is consumed they venture again into the plains; thus alternately obtaining their food at the risk of their lives and retiring to the mountains while they consume it. These people are now on the eve of their departure for the Missouri, and inform us that they expect to be joined at or about the Three Forks by several bands of their own nation, and a band of the Flatheads.
Tuesday August 20th 1805.
The Indians with us behave themselves extremely well; the women have been busily engaged all day making and mending the moccasins of our party. The robe worn by the Shoshones is the same in both sexes and is loosely thrown about their shoulders, and the sides at pleasure either hanging loose or drawn together with the hands. Sometimes if the weather is cold they confine it with a girdle around the waist. They are generally about the size of a 2_ point blanket for grown persons and reach as low as the middle of the leg. This robe forms a garment in the day and constitutes their only covering at night. With these people the robe is formed most commonly of the skins of antelope, bighorn, or deer, dressed with the hair on, though they prefer the buffalo when they can procure them. I have also observed some robes among them of beaver, moonax [marmot], and small wolves. The summer robes of both sexes are also frequently made of the elk’s skin dressed without the hair. The shirt of the men is really a commodious and decent garment. It is roomy and reaches nearly half way to the thigh. There is no collar, the aperture being sufficiently large to admit the head and is left square at top, or most frequently, both before and behind terminate in the tails of the animals of which they are made, and which fold outwards, being frequently left entire or sometimes cut into a fringe on the edges and ornamented with the quills of the porcupine. The sides of the shirt are sewed, deeply fringed, and ornamented in a similar manner from the bottom upwards, within six or eight inches of the sleeve from whence it is left open as well as the sleeve on its underside to the elbow nearly. From the elbow the sleeve fits the arm tight as low as the wrist and is not ornamented with a fringe as the sides and under parts of the sleeve are above the elbow. The shoulder straps are wide, and on them is generally displayed the taste of the manufacturer in a variety of figures wrought with the quills of the porcupine of several colors. Beads when they have them are also displayed on this part. The tail of the shirt is left in the form which the fore legs and neck give it, with the addition of a slight fringe. The hair is usually left on the tail, & near the hoofs of the animal; part of the hoof is also retained to the skin and is split into a fringe by way of ornament. These shirts are generally made of deer's, antelope's, bighorn's, or elk's skins dressed without the hair. The elk skin is less used for this purpose than either of the others. Their only thread used on this or any other occasion is the sinews taken from the back and loins of the deer, elk, buffalo &c. Their leggings are most usually formed of the skins of the antelope dressed without the hair. In the men they are very long and full, each legging being formed of a skin nearly entire. The legs, tail and neck are also left on these, and the tail worn upwards; and the neck deeply fringed and ornamented with porcupine quills, drags or trails on the ground behind the heel. The skin is sewn in such manner as to fit the leg and thigh closely; the upper part being left open a sufficient distance to permit the legs of the skin to be drawn underneath a girdle both before and behind, and the wide part of the skin to cover the buttock and lap before in such manner that the breechcloth is unnecessary. They are much more decent in concealing those parts than any nation on the Missouri. The sides of the leggings are also deeply fringed and ornamented. Sometimes this part is ornamented with little fascicles of the hair of an enemy whom they have slain in battle. The tippet of the Snake Indians is the most elegant piece of Indian dress I ever saw, the neck or collar of this is formed of a strip of dressed otter skin with the fur. It is about four or five inches wide and is cut out of the back of the skin, the nose and eyes forming one extremity and the tail the other. Beginning a little behind the ear of the animal at one edge of this collar and proceeding towards the tail, they attach from one to two hundred and fifty little rolls of ermine skin formed in the following manner. The skin is first dressed with the fur on it and a narrow strip is cut out of the back of the skin reaching from the nose and embracing the tail. This is sewed around a small cord of the silk-grass twisted for the purpose and regularly tapering in such manner as to give it a just proportion to the tail, which is to form the lower extremity of the strand. Thus arranged they are confined at the upper point in little bundles of two, three, or more as the design may be to make them more full. These are then attached to the collars as before mentioned, and to conceal the connection of this part, which would otherwise have a course appearance, they attach a broad fringe of the ermine skin to the collar overlaying that part. Little bundles of fine fringe of the same materials are fastened to the extremity of the tails in order to show their black extremities to greater advantage. The center of the otterskin collar is also ornamented with the shells of the pearl oyster. The collar is confined around the neck and the little rolls of ermine skin, about the size of a large quill, covers the shoulders and body nearly to the waist and has the appearance of a short cloak and is really handsome. These they esteem very highly, and give or dispose of only on important occasions. The ermine which is known to the traders of the northwest by the name of the white weasel is the genuine ermine, and might no doubt be turned to great advantage by those people if they would encourage the Indians to take them. They are no doubt extremely plenty and readily taken, from the number of these tippets which I have seen among these people and the great number of skins employed in the construction of each tippet. Scarcely any of them have employed less than one hundred of these skins in their formation.
Wednesday August 21st 1805.
The moccasins of both sexes are usually the same and are made of deer, elk or buffalo skin dressed without the hair. Sometimes in the winter they make them of buffalo skin dressed with the hair on, and turn the hair inwards as the Mandans, Hidatsas and most of the nations do who inhabit the buffalo country. The moccasin is formed with one seam; on the outer edge of the foot is cut open at the instep to admit the foot and sewed up behind. In this respect they are the same with the Mandans. They sometimes ornament their moccasins with various figures wrought with the quills of the porcupine. Some of the dressy young men ornament the tops of their moccasins with the skins of polecats [red fox] and trail the tail of that animal on the ground at their heels as they walk. The robe of the woman is generally smaller than that of the man but is worn in the same manner over the shoulders. The chemise is roomy and comes down below the middle of the leg. The upper part of this garment is formed much like the shirt of the men except the shoulder strap, which is never used with the chemise. In women who give suck, they are left open at the sides nearly as low as the waist, in others, close as high as the sleeve. The sleeve underneath as low as the elbow is open, that (upper) part being left very full. The sides, tail and upper part of the sleeves are deeply fringed and sometimes ornamented in a similar manner with the shirts of the men, with the addition of little patches of red cloth about the tail edged around with beads. The breast is usually ornamented with various figures of party colors wrought with the quills of the porcupine. It is on this part of the garment that they appear to exert their greatest ingenuity. A girdle of dressed leather confines the chemise around the waist. When either the man or woman wish to disengage their arm from the sleeve they draw it out by means of the opening underneath the arm and throw the sleeve behind the body. The leggings of the women reach as high as the knee and are confined with a garter below. The moccasin covers and confines its lower extremity. They are neither fringed nor ornamented. These leggings are made of the skins of the antelope and the chemise usually of those of the large deer, bighorn and the smallest elk. They seldom wear the beads they possess about their necks, at least I have never seen a grown person of either sex wear them on this part. Some their children are seen with them in this way. The men and women wear them suspended from the ear in little bunches or intermixed with triangular pieces of the shells of the pearl oyster. The men also wear them attached in a similar manner to the hair of the fore part of the crown of the head; to which they sometimes make the addition of the wings and tails of birds. The nose in neither sex is pierced, nor do they wear any ornament in it. They have a variety of small seashells of which they form collars worn indiscriminately by both sexes. These, as well as the shell of the pearl oyster, they value very highly and inform us that they obtain them from their friends and relations who live beyond the barren plain towards the ocean in a southwesterly direction. These friends of theirs they say inhabit a good country abounding with elk, deer, bear, and antelope, and possess a much greater number of horses and mules than they do themselves. Or using their own figure, that their horses and mules are as numerous as the grass of the plains. The warriors, or such as esteem themselves brave men, wear collars made of the claws of the brown bear which are also esteemed of great value and are preserved with great care. These claws are ornamented with beads about the thick end, near which they are pierced through their sides and strung on a throng of dressed leather and tied about the neck, commonly with the upper edge of the talon next [to] the breast or neck, but sometimes are reversed. It is esteemed by them an act of equal celebrity the killing one of these bear or an enemy, and with the means they have of killing this animal it must really be a serious undertaking. The sweet scented grass which grows very abundant on this river is either twisted or plaited and worn around the neck in ether sex, but most commonly by the men. They have a collar also worn by either sex. It [is] generally round and about the size of a man's finger, formed of leather or silk-grass twisted or firmly rolled and covered with the quills of the porcupine of different colors. The tusks of the elk are pierced, strung on a thong, and worn as an ornament for the neck, and is most generally worn by the women and children. The men frequently wear the skin of a fox or a broad strip of that of the otter around the forehead and head in form of a band. They are also fond of the feathers of the tail of the beautiful eagle or calumet bird [golden eagle] with which they ornament their own hair and the tails and mains of their horses. The dress of these people is quite as decent and convenient as that of any nation of Indians I ever saw. This morning early Capt. Clark resumed his march. At the distance of five miles he arrived at some brush lodges of the Shoshones inhabited by about seven families. Here he halted and was very friendly received by these people, who gave himself and party as much boiled salmon as they could eat. They also gave him several dried salmon and a considerable quantity of dried chokecherries. After smoking with them he visited their fish weir which was about 200 yards distant. He found the weir extended across four channels of the river, which was here divided by three small islands. Three of these channels were narrow, and were stopped by means of trees fallen across, supported by which stakes of willow were driven down sufficiently near each other to prevent the salmon from passing. About the center of each a cylindrical basket of eighteen or 20 feet in length, terminating in a conic shape at its lower extremity, formed of willows, was opposed to a small aperture in the weir with its mouth upstream to receive the fish. The main channel of the water was conducted to this basket, which was so narrow at its lower extremity that the fish when once in could not turn itself about, and were taken out by untying the small ends of the longitudinal willows, which formed the hull of the basket. The weir in the main channel was somewhat differently contrived. There were two distinct weirs formed of poles and willow sticks, quite across the river, at no great distance from each other. Each of these were furnished with two baskets, the one weir to take them ascending and the other in descending. In constructing these weirs, poles were first tied together in parcels of three near the smaller extremity; these were set on end, and spread in a triangular form at the base, in such manner that two of the three poles ranged in the direction of the intended work, and the third down the stream. Two ranges of horizontal poles were next lashed with willow bark and wythes to the ranging poles, and on these willow sticks were placed perpendicularly, reaching from the bottom of the river to about 3 or four feet above its surface, and placed so near each other, as not to permit the passage of the fish, and even so thick in some parts, as with the help of gravel and stone, to give a direction to the water which they wished. The baskets were the same in form of the others. This is the form of the work, and disposition of the baskets. The guide [Old Toby] appeared to be a very friendly, intelligent old man. Capt. Clark is much pleased with him.
August 21st Wednesday 1805
Those Indians are mild in their disposition, appear sincere in their friendship, punctual, and decided kind with what they have to spare. They are excessively poor, nothing but horses. Their enemies, which are numerous on account of their horses & defenseless situation, have deprived them of tents and all the small conveniences of life. They have only a few indifferent knives, no ax, make use of elk's horn sharpened to split their wood, no clothes except a short leggings & robes of different animals, beaver, bear, buffalo, wolf, panther, ibex, sheep, deer, but most commonly the antelope skins which they wear loosely about them. Their ornaments are otter skin decorated with seashells & the skins & tails of the white weasel, seashells of different sizes hung to their ears, hair and breast of their shirts, beads of shells, platted grass, and small strings of otter skin dressed. They are fond of our trinkets, and give us those ornaments as the most valuable of their possession. The women are held sacred and appear to have an equal share in all conversation, which is not the case in any other nation I have seen. Their boys & girls are also admitted to speak except in councils. The women do all the drudgery except fishing and taking care of the horses, which the men appear to take upon themselves. The men wear the hair loose flowing over their shoulders & face, the women cut short, ornaments of the back bones of fish, strung plated grass grains of corn, strung feathers and ornaments of birds, claws of the bear encircling their necks. The most sacred of all the ornaments of this nation is the sea shells of various sizes and shapes and colors, of the bastard pearl kind, which they inform us they get from the Indians to the south on the other side of a large fork of this river, in passing to which they have to pass through sandy & barren open plains without water, to which place they can travel in 15 or 20 days.
Thursday August 22nd 1805
Late last night Drewyer returned with a fawn he had killed and a considerable quantity of Indian plunder. The anecdote with respect to the latter is perhaps worthy of relation. He informed me that while hunting in the cove yesterday about 12 o’clock he came suddenly upon an Indian camp, at which there were a young man, an old man, a boy and three women. That they seemed but little surprised at seeing him and he rode up to them and dismounted, turning the horse out to graze. These people had just finished their repast on some roots. He entered into conversation with them by signs, and after about 20 minutes one of the women spoke to the others of the party and they all went immediately and collected their horses, brought them to camp and saddled them. At this moment he thought he would also set out and continue his hunt, and accordingly walked to catch his horse at some little distance and neglected to take up his gun which he left at camp. The Indians perceiving him at the distance of fifty paces immediately mounted their horses, the young man took the gun and the whole of them left their baggage and laid whip to their horses, directing their course to the pass of the mountains. Finding himself deprived of his gun he immediately mounted his horse and pursued; after running them about 10 miles the horses of two of the women nearly gave out and the young fellow with the gun, from their frequent cries, slackened his pace, and being on a very fleet horse rode around the women at a little distance. At length Drewyer overtook the women and by signs convinced them that he did not wish to hurt them. They then halted and the young fellow approached still nearer. He asked him for his gun, but the only part of the answer which he could understand was pah kee, which he knew to be the name by which they called their enemies. Watching his opportunity when the fellow was off his guard he suddenly rode alongside of him seized his gun and wrested her out of his hands. The fellow finding Drewyer too strong for him and discovering that he must yield the gun had [the] presence of mind to open the pan and cast the priming before he let the gun escape from his hands. Now finding himself divested of the gun he turned his horse about and laid whip, leaving the women to follow him as well as they could. Drewyer now returned to the place they had left. It consisted of several dressed and undressed skins, a couple of bags wove with the fingers of the bark of the silk-grass, containing each about a bushel of dried serviceberries, some chokecherry cakes and about a bushel of roots of three different kinds dried and prepared for use, which were folded in as many parchment hides of buffalo. Some flint and the instrument of bone for manufacturing the flint into arrow points. Some of this flint was as transparent as the common black glass and much of the same color easily broken, and flaked off much like glass, leaving a very sharp edge. One species of the roots were fusiform, about six inches long and about the size of a man's finger at the larger end, tapering to a small point. . . This the Indians with me informed were always boiled for use. I made the experiment, found that they became perfectly soft by boiling, but had a very bitter taste, which was nauseous to my palate, and I transferred them to the Indians who had eaten them heartily. A third species were about the size of a nutmeg, and of an irregularly rounded form, something like the smallest of the Jerusalem artichoke, which they also resemble in every other appearance. They had become very hard by being dried. These I also boiled agreeably to the instruction of the Indians and found them very agreeable. They resemble the Jerusalem artichoke very much in their flavor and I thought them preferable, however there is some allowance to be made for the length of time I have now been without vegetable food to which I was always much attached. These are certainly the best roots I have yet seen in use among the Indians. I asked the Indians to show me the plant of which these roots formed a part, but they informed me that neither of them grew near this place. . . The Indians are very orderly and do not crowd about our camp nor attempt to disturb any article they see lying about. They borrow knives kettles &c. from the men and always carefully return them, Capt. Clark says.
Friday August 23rd 1805.
I asked Cameahwait the reason why the hunters did not divide the meat among themselves; he said that meat was so scarce with them that the men who killed it reserved it for themselves and their own families. The metal which we found in possession of these people consisted of a few indifferent knives, a few brass kettles, some arm bands of iron and brass, a few buttons worn as ornaments in their hair, a spear or two of a foot in length and some iron and brass arrow points which they informed me they obtained in exchange for horses from the Crow or Rocky Mountain Indians on the Yellowstone River. The bridle bits and stirrups they obtained from the Spaniards, though these were but few. Many of them made use of flint for knives, and with this instrument, skinned the animals they killed, dressed their fish and made their arrows. In short they used it for every purpose to which the knife is applied. This flint is of no regular form, and if they can only obtain a part of it, an inch or two in length that will cut, they are satisfied. They renew the edge by flaking off the flint by means of the point of an elk's or deer's horn. With the point of a deer or elk's horn they also form their arrow points of the flint, with a quickness and neatness that is really astonishing. We found neither axes nor hatchets among them; what wood they cut was done either with stone or elk’s horn. The latter they use always to rive or split their wood. Their culinary utensils, exclusive of the brass kettle before mentioned, consist of pots in the form of a jar made either of earth, or of a white soft stone which becomes black and very hard by burning, and is found in the hills near the Three Forks of the Missouri between Madison's and Gallatin’s rivers. They have also spoons made of the buffalo’s horn and those of the bighorn. Their bows are made of cedar or pine and have nothing remarkable about them. The back of the bow is covered with sinews and glue and is about 2_ feet long, much the shape of those used by the Sioux, Mandans, Hidatsas &c. Their arrows are more slender generally than those used by the nations just mentioned, but much the same in construction. Their shield is formed of buffalo hide, perfectly arrow proof, and is a circle of 2 feet 4 inches or 2 feet 6 inches in diameter. This is frequently painted with various figures and ornamented around the edges with feathers and a fringe of dressed leather. They sometimes make bows of the elk's horn and those also of the bighorn. Those of the elk's horn are made of a single piece and covered on the back with glue and sinews like those made of wood, and are frequently ornamented with a strand wrought porcupine quills and sinews wrapped around them for some distance at both extremities. The bows of the bighorn are formed of small pieces laid flat and cemented with glue, and rolled with sinews, after which they are also covered on the back with sinews and glue, and highly ornamented as they are much prized. Forming the shield is a ceremony of great importance among them. This implement would in their minds be divested of much of its protecting power were it not inspired with those virtues by their old men and jugglers. Their method of preparing it is thus, an entire skin of a bull buffalo two years old is first provided; a feast is next prepared and all the warriors old men and jugglers invited to partake. A hole is sunk in the ground about the same in diameter with the intended shield and about 18 inches deep. A parcel of stones are now made red hot and thrown into the hole. Water is next thrown in and the hot stones cause it to emit a very strong hot steam. Over this they spread the green skin, which must not have been suffered to dry after taken off the beast. The flesh side is laid next to the ground and as many of the workmen as can reach it take hold on its edges and extend it in every direction. As the skin becomes heated, the hair separates and is taken off with the fingers, and the skin continues to contract until the whole is drawn within the compass designed for the shield. It is then taken off and laid on a parchment hide where they pound it with their heels when barefoot. This operation of pounding continues for several days or as long as the feast lasts, when it is delivered to the proprietor and declared by the jugglers and old men to be a sufficient defense against the arrows of their enemies, or even bullets if the feast has been a satisfactory one. Many of them believe implicitly that a ball cannot penetrate their shields, in consequence of certain supernatural powers with which they have been inspired by their jugglers. The Poggamoggon is an instrument with a handle of wood covered with dressed leather about the size of a whip handle and 22 inches long. A round stone of 2 pounds weight is also covered with leather and strongly united to the leather of the handle by a thong of 2 inches long. A loop of leather united to the handle passes around the wrist. A very heavy blow may be given with this instrument. They have also a kind of armor which they form with many folds of dressed Antelope’s skin, united with glue and sand. With this they cover their own bodies and those of their horses. These are sufficient against the effects of the arrow. The quiver, which contains their arrows and implements for making fire, is formed of various skins. That of the otter seems to be preferred. They are but narrow, of a length sufficient to protect the arrow from the weather, and are worn on the back by means of a strap which passes over the left shoulder and under the right arm. Their implements for making fire are nothing more than a blunt arrow and a piece of well seasoned soft, spongy wood such as the willow or cottonwood. The point of this arrow they apply to this dry stick so near one edge of it that the particles of wood which are separated from it by the friction of the arrow fall down by its side in a little pile. The arrow is held between the palms of the hand with the fingers extended, and being pressed as much as possible against the piece is briskly rolled between the palms of the hands backwards and forwards by pressing the arrow downwards, the hands of course in rolling [the] arrow also descend. They bring them back with a quick motion and repeat the operation till the dust by the friction takes fire; the piece and arrow are then removed and some dry grass or doated wood is added. It astonished me to see in what little time these people would kindle fire in this way. In less than a minute they will produce fire.
Saturday August 24th 1805
Cameahwait literally translated is “one who never walks.” He told me that his nation had also given him another name by which he was signalized as a warrior which was Too-et'-te-con'-e or Black Gun. These people have many names in the course of their lives, particularly if they become distinguished characters, for it seems that every important event by which they happen to distinguish themselves entitles them to claim another name which is generally selected by themselves and confirmed by the nation. Those distinguishing acts are the killing and scalping an enemy, the killing a white bear, leading a party to war who happen to be successful either in destroying their enemies or robbing them of their horses, or individually stealing the horses of an enemy. These are considered acts of equal heroism among them, and that of killing an enemy without scalping him is considered of no importance; in fact the whole honor seems to be founded in the act of scalping, for if a man happens to slay a dozen of his enemies in action and others get the scalps or first lay their hand on the dead person, the honor is lost to him who killed them and devolves on those who scalp or first touch them. Among the Shoshones, as well as all the Indians of America, bravery is esteemed the primary virtue; nor can anyone become eminent among them who has not at some period of his life given proofs of his possessing this virtue. With them there can be no preferment without some warlike achievement, and so completely interwoven is this principle with the earliest elements of thought that it will in my opinion prove a serious obstruction to the restoration of a general peace among the nations of the Missouri. The few guns which the Shoshones have are reserved for war almost exclusively, and the bow and arrows are used in hunting. I have seen a few skins among these people which have almost every appearance of the common sheep. They inform me that they find this animal on the high mountains to the west and southwest of them. It is about the size of the common sheep, the wool is rather shorter and more intermixed, with long hairs particularly on the upper part of the neck. These skins have been so much worn that I could not form a just idea of the animal or its color. The Indians, however, inform me that it is white and that its horns are lunated, compressed, twisted and bent backward as those of the common sheep. The texture of the skin appears to be that of the sheep. I am now perfectly convinced that the sheep as well as the bighorn exist in these mountains. The usual caparison of the Shoshone horse is a halter and saddle. The 1st consists either of a round plated or twisted cord of six or seven strands of buffalo’s hair, or a thong of rawhide made pliant by pounding and rubbing. These cords of buffalo’s hair are about the size of a man's finger and remarkably strong. This is the kind of halter which is preferred by them. The halter of whatever it may be composed is always of great length and is never taken from the neck of the horse which they commonly use at any time. It is first attached at one end about the neck of the horse with a knot that will not slip. It is then brought down to his underjaw, and being passed through the mouth embraces the underjaw and tongue in a simple noose formed by crossing the rope underneath the jaw of the horse. This when mounted he draws up on the near side of the horse's neck and holds in the left hand, suffering it to trail at a great distance behind him. Sometimes the halter is attached so far from the end that while the shorter end serves him to govern his horse, the other trails on the ground as before mentioned. They put their horses to their full speed with those cords trailing on the ground. When they turn out the horse to graze the noose is merely loosed from his mouth. The saddle is made of wood and covered with rawhide which holds the parts very firmly together. It is made like the packsaddles in use among the French and Spaniards. It consists of two flat thin boards which fit the sides of the horse’s back, and are held firm by two pieces which are united to them behind and before on the outer side and which rise to a considerable height, terminating sometimes in flat horizontal points extending outwards, and always in an acute angle or short bend underneath the upper part of these pieces. A piece of buffalo’s skin with the hair on is usually put underneath the saddle, and very seldom any covering on the saddle. Stirrups when used are made of wood and covered with leather. These are generally used by the elderly men and women; the young men scarcely ever use anything more than a small pad of dressed leather stuffed with hair, which is confined with a leather thong passing around the body of the horse in the manner of a girth. They frequently paint their favorite horses, and cut their ears in various shapes. They also decorate their manes and tails, which they never draw or trim, with the feathers of birds, and sometimes suspend at the breast of the horse the finest ornaments they possess. The Spanish bridle is preferred by them when they can obtain them, but they never dispense with the cord about the neck of the horse, which serves them to take him with more ease when he is running at large. They are excellent horsemen and extremely expert in casting the cord about the neck of a horse. The horses that have been habituated to be taken with the cord in this way, however wild they may appear at first, surrender the moment they feel the cord about their necks. There are no horses in this quarter which can with propriety be termed wild. There are some few which have been left by the Indians at large for so great a length of time that they have become shy, but they all show marks of having been in possession of man.
August 25th Sunday 1805
Set out very early and halted one hour at the Indian Camp. They were kind, gave us all a little boiled salmon & dried berries to eat, about half as much as I could eat. Those people are kind with what they have, but excessively poor & dirty. We proceeded on over the mountains we had before passed to the bluff we encamped at on the 21st instant where we arrived late and turned out to hunt & fish. Caught several small fish. A party of squaws & one man with several boys going down to guathe berries below.
Monday August 26th 1805.
One of the women who had been assisting in the transportation of the baggage halted at a little run about a mile behind us, and sent on the two pack horses which she had been conducting by one of her female friends. I inquired of Cameahwait the cause of her detention, and was informed by him in an unconcerned manner that she had halted to bring forth a child and would soon overtake us. In about an hour the woman arrived with her newborn babe and passed us on her way to the camp, apparently as well as she ever was. It appears to me that the facility and ease with which the women of the aborigines of North America bring forth their children is rather a gift of nature than depending as some have supposed on the habitude of carrying heavy burdens on their backs while in a state of pregnancy. If a pure and dry air, an elevated and cold country is unfavorable to childbirth, we might expect every difficult incident to that operation of nature in this part of the continent. Again as the Snake Indians possess an abundance of horses, their women are seldom compelled like those in other parts of the continent to carry burdens on their backs, yet they have their children with equal convenience, and it is a rare occurrence for any of them to experience difficulty in childbirth. I have been several times informed by those who were conversant with the fact, that the Indian women who are pregnant by white men experience more difficulty in childbirth than when pregnant by an Indian. If this be true it would go far in support of the opinion I have advanced. I observe the Indian women collecting the root of a species of fennel which grows in the moist grounds, and feeding their poor starved children; it is really distressing to witness the situation of those poor wretches. On our near approach we were met by a number of young men on horseback. Cameahwait requested that we would discharge our guns when we arrived in sight of the village, accordingly when I arrived on an eminence above the village in the plain I drew up the party at open order in a single rank and gave them a running fire, discharging two rounds. They appeared much gratified with this exhibition. We then proceeded to the village or encampment of brush lodges, 32 in number. We were conducted to a large lodge which had been prepared for me in the center of their encampment, which was situated in a beautiful, level, smooth and extensive bottom near the river about 3 miles above the place I had first found them encamped. Here we arrived at 6 in the evening, arranged our baggage near my tent and placed those of the men on either side of the baggage facing outwards.
Tuesday 27th August 1805.
A beautiful, pleasant morning. We hoisted our large flag. Capt. Lewis gave the head chief [Cameahwait] a flag, also the 2nd chief one. They hoisted them on the level near their lodges. Capt. Lewis then began to trade with the natives for horses, after paying off the women who helped us over the dividing mountain. Mr. Charbonneau bought one horse for a red cloak. The natives brought up several horses for trade. 2 hunters went out this morning to hunt with horses. The natives caught a number of fine trout which would weigh about 8 pounds; some call them salmon trout. Others call them real salmon, but they are not so red as the large salmon. The Indian women are mostly employed gathering a kind of small black seed not so large as buckwheat, which they dry and pound or rub between 2 stones and make a sort of meal of it. They also dry cherries and serviceberries & roots &c. &c. for food. They kill but few deer or any wild game except when they go down on the Missouri after the buffalo. The country in general is barren, broken and mountainous. An Indian came in with a horse load of deer meat, which our hunters killed. Our hunters all returned towards evening, had killed 4 deer & 8 or 10 fine salmon which they had killed with a wooden gig. Capt. Lewis has bought 7 or 8 horses this day for a little of different kinds of merchandize &c, but they seem loath to part with any more without asking more for them. Some of them play away whatever they get for their horses, at a game nearly like playing button only they keep singing all the while and do all by motions. More or less play at this game & lose or win more or less, they care not. Always appear still peaceable and contented, poor as they be. In the evening they had a war dance. Their women sang with them. They danced very well, but not so regular as those on the Missouri. They tell us that some of their horses will dance, but I have not seen them yet.
Thursday 29th. While I lay here today, one of the natives showed me their method of producing fire, which is somewhat curious. They have two sticks ready for the operation, one about 9 and the other 18 inches long: the short stick they lay down flat and rub the end of the other upon it in a perpendicular direction for a few minutes; and the friction raises a kind of dust, which in a short time takes fire. These people make willow baskets so close and to such perfection as to hold water, for which purpose they make use of them. They make much use of the sunflower and lambs-quarter seed, as before mentioned; which with berries and wild cherries pounded together, compose the only bread they have any knowledge of, or in use. The fish they take in this river are of excellent kinds, especially the salmon, the roes of which when dried and pounded make the best of soup.
August 30th Friday 1805
A fine morning. Finding that we could purchase no more horses than we had for our goods &c. (and those not a sufficient number for each of our party to have one, which is our wish) I gave my fuzee to one of the men & sold his musket for a horse, which completed us to 29 total horses. We purchased pack cords, made saddles & set out on our route down the [Lemhi] River by land, guided by my old guide [Old Toby], one other who joined him, the old guide’s 3 sons followed him.[Ordway]
Saturday 31st August 1805.
A fair morning. We set out early and proceeded on 2 miles and passed several lodges of the Snake Nation of Indians who stay here to fish. They catch salmon in their pots and weirs which they have made of willows across the river and have more or less in them every morning. We bought a number of fine large salmon of them and proceeded on, one hunter on ahead.