Information on the Arikara 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 Arikara people as the Anglo-Americans saw them. The modern reader must be careful to understand that what these white men saw and recorded was not necessarily correct from the Indian perspective.
The following passages have been freely adapted and excerpted from the original texts, and the spelling has been corrected to make them easier to read. For students wishing to quote these passages, the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary Moulton and published by the University of Nebraska Press, is the recommended source. For those who wish more in-depth information about Lewis and Clark's relations with various Indian tribes, including background from the Indian perspective, the best book is James P. Ronda's Lewis and Clark among the Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984. The very best way to obtain accurate information from the tribal perspective is to contact tribal councils for individual tribes - in other words, to consult the people themselves.
The Arikaras belonged to the Caddoan language family, most closely related to the Skiri Pawnees; they called themselves sahnis (people) or Star-rah-he (as Lewis and Clark termed it). There were many abandoned Arikara villages in the Missouri River Valley, as noted by Lewis and Clark. The Arikaras moved their villages often, sometimes due to outside pressure from other Indian groups but also as a result of disease, which decimated their numbers. At the time of Lewis and Clark, the Arikara lived in three villages along the Missouri River near what is today the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. They lived in round earth lodges and farmed the nearby bottomland growing corn, beans, squash and pumpkins. The Oahe Reservoir now inundates a good part of this area. The Arikaras had hereditary chiefs and were middlemen in intertribal trade. In 1804 they had been in contact with traders of many nations for several years. Lewis and Clark tried to effect a reconciliation in the strained relations between the Arikara (who often sided with or fought beside the Lakota Sioux) and the Mandans. Seeing that the Arikara lived in earth lodge villages, Lewis and Clark jumped to the conclusion that they were offshoots of the same people from whom the Mandans and Hidatsas sprang. Actually, the three tribes have different origins. The death of their chief, who went to Washington at the captains' invitation in 1805, angered the Arikara. As a result, they blocked the Missouri River to Anglo traders and prevented the return of the Mandan chief Sheheke to his people in 1807. During the fur-trade days of the 1820s and 1830s their hostility toward the Anglos continued. Later in the 19th century, the Arikara, decimated by disease, joined the Mandan and Hidatsa people in central North Dakota, becoming the third of the "Three Affiliated Tribes." Today, these three groups live on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
Tribal Chairperson, Three Affiliated Tribes
404 Frontage Road
New Town, North Dakota 58763-9404
1st of October Monday 1804
Set out early, passed a large island in the middle of the river. Opposite this island the Ricaras lived in 2 villages on the southwest side, about 2 miles above, the upper point of the island.
4th of October Thursday
Camped on a sandbar at the upper point of an island on which is the remains of an old Arikara Village fortified, called La hoo call. It was circular; this village appears to have been deserted about 5 or 6 years, 17 houses yet remain. The island contains but little timber, the evening very cold and wood scarce, make use of driftwood.
6th of October Saturday 1804
Passed an old Ricara village of 80 lodges picketed in, those lodges in nearly an octagon form, 20 to 60 feet diameter, spacious, covered with earth and as close as they can stand. A number of skin canoes in the huts. We found squashes of 3 different kinds growing in the village.
6th October Saturday 1804
Passed a village of about 80 neat lodges covered with earth and picketed around. Those lodges are spacious, of an octagon form as close together as they can possibly be placed and appear to have been inhabited last spring. From the canoes of skins, mats, buckets &c. found in the lodges, we are of opinion they were the Arikara. We found squashes of 3 different kinds growing in the village.
Saturday 6th Oct. 1804
At 1 o'clock we halted at an old Arikara Village on the starboard side & took dinner. Our hunters came to us & had killed a fat elk. We found at this village some squashes. The Arikara left it last spring. Their village was built very close, compact, & covered each separate house with earth. We saw several canoes made of buffalo hides, which would carry 2 men & considerable baggage, also some baskets. We took several of them & some of the squashes &c. &c.
7th of October Sunday 1804
Passed a river 90 yards wide the Arikaras call Sur-war-kar-ne. All the water of this river runs in a channel of 20 yards, the current appears gentle. I walked up this river a mile, saw the tracks of white bear, very large, also an old Arikara village partly burnt, fortified. About 60 lodges built in the same form of those passed yesterday, many canoes & baskets about the huts. About 10 o'clock we saw 2 Indians on the starboard side, they asked for something to eat & told us they were Tetons of the band we left below on their way to the Arikaras. We gave them meat &c.
7th of October Sunday 1804
Below the mouth of this river is the remains of an Arikara Village or wintering camp fortified in a circular form of about 60 lodges, built in the same form of those passed yesterday. This camp appears to have been inhabited last winter, many of their willow & straw mats, baskets & buffalo skin canoes remain entire within the camp.
[Clark - Writing at the so-called Leavenworth Site of Arikara villages, near Wakpala, South Dakota. The first Arikara village was called Rhtarahe, the second Waho-Erha].
8th of October Monday 1804
Our hunters discovered an Arikara village on an island a few miles above. We passed the 1st Arikara Village about the center of the island, in the presence of great numbers of spectators and camped above the island on the larboard side at the foot of some high land. (Mr. Gravelines, a Frenchman, joined us as an interpreter). The island on which the Arikara Village is situated is about 3 miles long, separated from the mainland side by a narrow deep channel. Those Indians cultivate on the island corn, beans, simmins [squash], tobacco &c. &c. After landing Capt. Lewis with Mr. Gravelines and 3 men went to the village. I formed a camp on shore with the pirogue crew & guard, with the boat at anchor. Capt. Lewis returned late, a Frenchman and a Spaniard accompanied him.
8th of October Monday 1804
A pleasant evening, all things arranged both for peace or war. This village is situated about the center of a large island near the larboard side (at the & near the foot of some high bald uneven hills). Several Frenchmen came up with Capt. Lewis in a pirogue, one of which is a Mr. Gravelines, a man well versed in the language of this nation, and gave us some information relative to the country, nation &c. [Joseph Gravelines was an associate or employee of Regis Loisel and Pierre-Antoine Tabeau. He was said in 1811 to have lived among the Arikaras for more than twenty years. The captains found him useful as an Arikara interpreter, and in 1805 he accompanied the Arikara chief who journeyed to Washington. He had to return alone, bearing the news of the chief's death displeasing the Arikaras greatly].
Monday 8th Oct. 1804.
Proceeded on, passed an island on the starboard side where we found a large Arikara village on the starboard side, a number of the Indians assembled on the sandbar opposite the village to see us, a Frenchman with them. We took the Frenchman on board. He informed us that they were all friendly & glad to see us. We camped about one mile above the first Arikara village. Capt. Lewis went to the village, carried some tobacco & smoked with the chiefs of the Nation. There is 2 more villages of the Arikara a short distance about this place &c.
9th of October Tuesday 1804
All the grand chiefs visited us today also Mr. Taboe, a trader from St. Louis. Many canoes of a single buffalo skin made in the form of a bowl carrying generally 3 and sometimes 5 & 6 men. Those canoes ride the highest waves. The Indians much astonished at my black servant [York] and call him the big medicine. This nation never saw a black man before. The wind very high. I saw at several times today 3 squaws in single buffalo skin canoes loaded with meat cross the river, at the time the waves were as high as I ever saw them in the Missouri.
9th of October 1804 Tuesday
A windy rainy night, and cold, so much so we could not speak with the Indians today. The three great chiefs and many others came to see us today, we gave them some tobacco and informed them we would speak on tomorrow. The day continued cold & windy, some rain. Several canoes of skins passed down from the 2 villages a short distance above, and many came to view us all day. Much astonished at my black servant [York], who did not lose the opportunity of his powers, strength &c. &c. This nation never saw a black man before. Several hunters came in with loads of meat. I observed several canoes made of a single buffalo skin with 2 & three squaws cross the river today in waves as high as I ever saw them on this river, quite uncomposed.
1st Chief's name Ka kawissassa (Lighting Crow.)
2d do do Pocasse (or Hay)
3d do do Pia he to (or Eagle's Feather)
10th of October 1804
Mr. Taboe visited us; we hear that some jealousy exists as to the chiefs to be made. At 1 o'clock the chiefs all assembled under an awning near the boat, and under the American Flag. We delivered a similar speech to those delivered the Otos & Sioux, made three chiefs, one for each village, and gave them clothes & flags. 1st Chief is named Ka-ha-wissassa, Lightning Raven; 2d Chief Po-casse (Hay) & the 3rd Piaheto or Eagle's Feather. After the council was over we shot the air gun, which astonished them, & they all left us, I observed 2 Sioux in the council, one of them I had seen below. They came to intercede with the Arikara to stop us as we were told. The Indians much astonished at my black servant [York], who made himself more terrible in their view than I wished him to do, as I am told, telling them that before I caught him he was wild & lived upon people, [that] young children was very good eating. Showed them his strength &c. &c. Those Indians are not fond of liquor of any kind.
10th of October Wednesday 1804
We prepare all things ready to speak to the Indians. Mr. Taboe & Mr. Gravelines came to breakfast with us. The chiefs &c. came from the lower town, but none from the 2 upper towns, which is the largest. We continue to delay & wait for them. At 12 o'clock dispatched Gravelines to invite them to come down. We have every reason to believe that a jealousy exists between the villages for fear of our making the 1st Chief from the lower village. At one o'clock the chiefs all assembled & after some little ceremony the council commenced. We informed them what we had told the others before, i.e. Otos & Sioux. Made 3 chiefs, 1 for each village. Gave them presents. After the council was over we shot the air gun which astonished them much. They then departed and we rested secure all night. Those Indians were much astonished at my servant [York]; they never saw a black man before. All flocked around him & examined him from top to toe. He carried on the joke and made himself more terrible than we wished him to do. (Those Indians were not fond of spirituous liquor of any kind).
Wednesday 10th Oct.
A pleasant morning. I went down to the village which was built on the island. Found their lodges in this village about 60 in number and very close compact, in a round form, large & warm, covered first after the wood is willows and grass. Then a thick coat of earth &c., except the chimney hole, which goes out at center & top. They raise considerable of Indian corn, beans, pumpkins, squashes, watermelons, a kind of tobacco &c. &c. They supply several nations around them in corn as we are told. There is a 2 Frenchman who trade here, Mr. Taboe lives here now. Has some goods & trades with them for their peltry &c. We left one of our Frenchmen with Mr. Taboe & took his son in his place. All things made ready to hold a council with the nation. They have used us in the most friendly manner. Gave us corn & beans, dried pumpkins & squashes &c. &c. Some of their women are very handsome & clean &c. &c.
Wednesday October 10th 1804
About 2 o'clock P.M. the chiefs & warriors of the Arikara Nation assembled at our camp under the American flag to counsel with our officers. Capt. Lewis read a speech to them, giving them good counsel &c. After the talk was ended to them, three guns was fired from our bow piece. Then our officers gave the three Chiefs some presents & 3 flags & each Chief a medal. There are 3 villages of this nation & three chiefs, one at each village. Our officers gave each an equal proportion of the goods, each an American flag, a red coat (& cocked hat & feathers) & medals as above mentioned, some paint. They divided the goods & paint among themselves & tobacco &c. &c. After all was over our Capts. shot the air gun. They appeared to be astonished at the sight of it & the execution it would do. They were very thankful to us for what they had received from us, & said that we were so good that we must go where we pleased after. They would have a talk tomorrow & give us some corn &c. The Chiefs shook hands with our officers in the most friendly manner, & returned to their villages. I & one man went to the 2nd village with them in the evening, which is about 4 miles from the lower village. The Chief's wife brought us a bowl full of beans & corn. We ate some of it. She then brought 3 more, one after another of different kinds of victuals. We ate some of each & found it very good. We smoked a while with them. They were very friendly to us & seemed to be desirous to talk with us & scarcely kept their eyes off us (we returned to camp late).
Wednesday 10th. This day I went with some of the men to the lodges, about 60 in number. The following is a description of the form of these lodges and the manner of building them. In a circle suited to the dimensions of the intended lodge, they set up 16 forked posts five or six feet high, and lay poles from one fork to another. Against these poles they lean other poles, slanting from the ground and extending about four inches above the cross poles: these are to receive the ends of the upper poles, that support the roof. They next set up four large forks, fifteen feet high, and about ten feet apart, in the middle of the area; and poles or beams between these. The roof poles are then laid on, extending from the lower poles across the beams which rest on the middle forks, of such a length as to leave a hole at the top for a chimney. The whole is then covered with willow branches except the chimney and a hole to pass through. On the willow branches they lay grass and lastly clay. At the hole below they build a pen about four feet wide and projecting ten feet from the hut; and hang a buffalo skin, at the entrance of the hut for a door. This labor like every other kind is chiefly performed by the squaws. They raise corn, beans, and tobacco. Their tobacco is different from any I had before seen: it answers for smoking, but not for chewing. On our return, I crossed from the island to the boat, with two squaws in a buffalo skin stretched on a frame made of boughs, woven together like a crate or basket for that purpose. Captain Lewis and Captain Clark held a council with the Indians, and gave them some presents.
11th of October Thursday 1804
At 11 o'clock met the 1st Chief in council. He thanked us for what we had given him & his people promised to attend to our advice, and said the road was open for us and no one dare shut it &c. We took him and one chief on board and set out, on our way took in the 2d Chief at the mouth of a small creek, and came to off the 2d village which is 3 miles above the island. We walked up with the 2nd & 3rd Chiefs to their villages, which is situated on each side of a small creek. They gave us something to eat in their way. After conversations on various subjects & bearing the civilities of those people who are both poor & dirty we informed the chiefs we would hear what they had to say tomorrow and returned on board about 10 o'clock P.M. Those people gave us to eat corn & beans, a large well-flavored bean which they rob the mice of in the plains and is very nourishing. All tranquillity.
11th October Thursday 1804
At 11 o'clock we met the Grand Chief in council and he made a short speech thanking us for what we had given him & his nation, promising to attend to the council we had given him & informed us the road was open & no one dare shut it, & we might depart at pleasure. At 1 o'clock we set out for the upper villages 3 miles distant, the Grand Chief & nephew on board, proceeded on. At 1 mile took in the 2d Chief & came to off the second village, separated from the 3rd by a creek. After arranging all matters we walked up with the 2d Chief to his village, and sat talking on various subjects until late. We also visited the upper or 3rd village, each of which gave us something to eat in their way, and a few bushels of corn, beans &c. After being treated by every civility by those people who are both poor & dirty we returned to our boat at about 10 o'clock P.M., informing them before we departed that we would speak to them tomorrow at their separate villages. Those people gave us to eat bread made of corn & beans, also corn & beans boiled. A large bean, which they rob the mice of the prairie which is rich & very nourishing also.
October the 11th Thursday 1804
We met in council to hear what the Grand Chief Ka kaw issassa had to say in answer to the speech of yesterday. The Grand Chief rose and spoke as follows i.e.:
My Fathers! My heart is gladder than it ever was before to see my fathers. A repetition.
If you want the road open no one can prevent it, it will always be open for you.
Can you think any one dare put their hands on your rope of your boat. No! Not one dares.
When you get to the Mandans we wish you to speak good words with that nation for us. We wish to be at peace with them.
It gives us pain that we do not know how to work the beaver, we will make buffalo robes the best we can.
When you return, if I am living, you will see me again, the same man, the Indian in the prairie. Know me and listen to my words, when you [come] they will meet to see you.
We shall look at the river with impatience for your return. Finished.
Thursday 11th Oct. 1804
Some of the party down at the village below this last night. They informed us that one of the chiefs lost all the goods he received from us in the river going home. The skin canoe got overset, turned everything out of it. He grieved himself considerable about his loss &c. At 11 o'clock the Indians assembled at our camp, brought us some corn & beans, dried squashes &c. We gave them a steel mill which they were very much pleased with. The chiefs made a short speech & told us that he was very glad to see us & that we must pass where we pleased & none of his nation would attempt to hold our cable &c. He also desired that we would speak a good word for them to the Mandan nation, for they wished to make peace with them. About 1 o'clock we set off, proceeded on. Passed a creek & a timbered bottom. Sailed on at 4 o'clock. Arrived at the 2nd Arikara village on the bank of the river, starboard side. A handsome place, a high smooth prairie. A timbered bottom of the opposite shore, a large sand beach makes out from the village. They had their colors or flags hoisted that we gave them, & all assembled on the bank of the river to see us. We camped on a sandbar below the village. Capt. Lewis & Clark took an observation which made them amazed at the instrument. Went up to the village, took several of the party with them. They all returned in the evening. Found that the two upper villages were near each other & built nearly alike. There is no wood near these 2 villages. They cross the river for the greater part of their wood to a timbered bottom on the north side opposite their villages &c. In the evening our cooks took the best axe we had on shore to cut some wood; it was stolen by some of those Indians.
Thursday 11th. We waited for an answer from the Indians. About 12 o'clock, they came, and brought some corn, beans and squashes, which they presented to us. The chief said he was glad to see us, and wished our commanding officers would speak a good word for them to the Mandans; for they wanted to be at peace with them. These are the best looking Indians I have ever seen. At 1 o'clock P.M. we proceeded on our voyage; passed a creek on the south side 20 yards wide and a handsome bottom covered with timber. Having made about four miles, we came to the second Village of the Arikara, situated in a prairie on the south side. They had the American flag hoisted which Captain Lewis gave them yesterday. Their lodges are similar to those in the first village, and the same, or perhaps more, in number. They are the most cleanly Indians I have ever seen on the voyage; as well as the most friendly and industrious. We anchored about 50 yards from shore, and sent a pirogue over the river for wood. We all slept on board except the cooks, who went on shore to prepare provisions for the next day.
Thursday October 11th
This day at 12 o'clock the Indians came to our camp, and brought to us some corn, beans and squashes. They requested of our officers, by their interpreter, to speak a good word for them to the Mandan Nation of Indians, as they wished to make a peace with them, which our officers agreed to do. They mentioned that they wished to be at peace with all nations. At one o'clock we proceeded on our voyage, and passed a creek lying on the south side of the river 20 yards wide. About 4 o'clock P.M. we came to the Village of the Arikaras. They had a flag hoisted which Captain Lewis had given them the day before. Their village is built in a prairie, on the south side of the river, in the same manner that the other villages were built. We encamped this night on the south side of the river.
12th of October Friday
After breakfast we joined the Chiefs & Indians on the bank who were waiting for us, and proceeded to the 1st village and lodge of the Pocasse. This man spoke at some length, to the same purpose of the 1st Chief, & declaring his intentions of visiting his great father. Some doubts as to his safety in passing the Sioux, requested us to take a Chief of their nation and make a good peace with the Mandan for them. That they knew that they were the cause of the war by killing the 2 Mandan Chiefs. This chief & people gave us about 7 bushels of corn, some tobacco of their own make, and seed leggings & a robe. We proceeded to the 3rd Chief's Village which is the largest. After the usual ceremony of eating, smoking, &c. he spoke to near the same account of the last chief, & more pleasantly. He gave us 10 bushels of corn, some beans & simmins. After he had spoken, and I gave some sketches of the power & magnitude of our country, we returned to our boat. The Chiefs accompanied us on board, we gave them some sugar, salt and a sun glass each, and after eating a little they returned on shore, leaving one to accompany us to the Mandans. We set out, viewed by men, women & children of each village. Proceeded on about 9½ miles and camped on the starboard side. Clear & cold. The Arikaras are about 500 men, Mr. Taboe says 600 able to bear arms, and the remains of ten different tribes of Panias reduced by the smallpox & wars with the Sioux. They are tall stout men, coarsely featured, their women small & industrious, raise great quantities of corn beans &c. also tobacco for the men to smoke. They collect all the wood and do the drudgery common amongst savages. Their language is so corrupted that many lodges of the same village with difficulty understand all that each other say. They are dirty, kind, poor, & extravagant; possessing natural pride, no beggars, receive what is given them with pleasure. Their houses are close together & towns enclosed with pickets. Their lodges are 30 to 40 feet in diameter, covered with earth on neat poles set endwise, resting on 4 forks, supporting beams set in a square form near the center, and lower, about 5 feet high other forks all around support strong beams, from 8 to 10 of those, with an opening at top of about 5 to 6 feet square. On the poles which pass to the top, small willow & grass is put across to support the earth. The Sioux exchange some merchandize of small value which they get from Mr. Cameron of St. Peters for corn &c. and have great influence over this people; treat them roughly and keep them in continual dread. The Arikaras are at war with the Crow Indians and Mandans &c. The Arikaras have a custom similar to the Sioux in many instances, they think they cannot show a sufficient acknowledgement without giving to their guest handsome squaws and think they are despised if they are not received. The Sioux followed us with women two days [but] we put them off. The Arikaras we put off during the time we were near their village. 2 were sent by a man to follow us, and overtook us this evening, we still persisted in a refusal. The dress of the Arikara men is simply a pair of moccasins & leggings, a flap, and a buffalo robe. Their hair is long and loose, their arms & ears are decorated with trinkets. The women's dress moccasins & leggings & skirt of the skin of the cabre or antelope, long fringed & [robe] to the fringes & with sleeves, very white, and robes. All [the skins] were dressed to be without hair in the summer. Those people make large beads of different colors out of glass or beads of different colors, very ingeniously.
12th October Friday 1804
I rose early. After breakfast we joined the Indians who were waiting on the bank for us to come out and go and council. We accordingly joined them and went to the house of the 2nd Chief Lassil [Pocasse] where there was many chiefs and warriors & about 7 bushels of corn, a pair of leggings, a twist of their tobacco & seeds of 2 kinds of tobacco. We sat some time before the council commenced. This man spoke at some length declaring his disposition to believe and pursue our councils, his intention of going to visit his great father. [He] acknowledged the satisfaction (which he) in receiving the presents &c. Raising a doubt as to the safety on passing the nations below, particularly the Sioux. Requested us to take a Chief of their nation and make a good pact with Mandans & nations above. After answering those parts of the 2d Chief's speech which required it, which appeared to give general satisfaction, we went to the village of the 3rd Chief and as usual some ceremony took place before he could speak to us on the great subject. This Chief spoke very much in the style on nearly the same subjects of the other Chief who sat by his side, more sincere & pleasantly. He presented us with about 10 bushels of corn, some beans & squashes, all of which we accepted with much pleasure. After we had answered his speech & gave them some account of the magnitude & power of our country, which pleased and astonished them very much, we returned to our boat. The Chiefs accompanied us on board. We gave them some sugar, a little salt, and a sun glass, & set 2 on shore & the third proceeded on with us to the Mandans. At 2 o'clock we set out, the inhabitants of the two villages viewing us from the banks.
The Nation of the Arikaras is about Mr. Taboe says, 600 men able to bear arms. A great proportion of them have fusils. They appear to be peaceful, their men tall and proportioned, women small and industrious, raise great quantities of corn, beans, simmins &c., also tobacco for the men to smoke. They collect all the wood and do the drudgery as common amongst savages. This (nation is) made up of (10) different tribes of the [Pawnees], who had formerly been separate, but by commotion and war with their neighbors have become reduced and compelled to come together for protection. The corruption of the language of those different tribes has so reduced the language that the different villages do not understand all the words of the others. Those people are dirty, kind, poor & extravagant possessing national pride, not beggarly. Receive what is given with great pleasure, live in warm houses large and built in an octagon form, forming a cone at top which is left open for the smoke to pass. Those houses are generally 30 or 40 foot diameter, covered with earth on poles, willows & grass to prevent the earth's passing through. Those people express an inclination to be at peace with all nations. The Sioux, who trade the goods which they get of the British traders for their corn, and [have] great influence over the Arikaras, poison their minds and keep them in perpetual dread.
I saw Some of the (Chien or Dog) [Cheyenne] Indians, also a man of a nation under the court new. This nation is at war with the Crow Indians & have 3 children prisoners.
A curious custom with the Sioux as well as the Arikaras is to give handsome squaws to those whom they wish to show some acknowledgements to. The Sioux we got clear of without taking their squaws, they followed us with squaws two days. The Arikaras we put off during the time we were at the towns but 2 handsome young squaws were sent by a man to follow us. They came up this evening and persisted in their civilities.
Dress of the men of this nation is simply a pair of moccasins, leggings, flap in front & a buffalo robe, with their arms & ears decorated. The women wore moccasins, leggings fringed and a shirt of goat skins, some with sleeves. This garment is long & generally white & fringed, tied at the waist with a rope, in summer without hair.
[undated, October 12, 1804]
2nd Chief Arikaras:
My Father, I am glad to see this is a fine day to hear the good councils & talk good talk.
I am glad to see you & that your intentions are to open the road for all. We see that our Grandfather has sent you to open the road. We see it. Our Grandfather by sending you means to take pity on us. Our Grandfather has sent you with tobacco to make peace with all nations, we think.
The first nation who has recommended the road to be clear and open.
You come here & have directed all nations which you have met to open
& clear the road.
[If] you come to see the water & roads to clear them as clear as possible.
You just now come to see us, & we wish you to tell our Grandfather that we wish the road to be kept clear & open.
I expect the Chief in the next town will tell you the same, to move on & open the road- (or something to that amount).
When you passed the Sioux they told you the same I expect. We see you here today. We are poor, our women have no strouds & knives to cut their meat. Take pity on us when you return.
You come here & direct us to stay at home & not go to war. We shall do so. We hope you will, when you get to the Mandans, you will tell them the same & clear the road, no one [will] dare to stop you, you go when you please.
You tell us to go down, we will go and see our grandfather & hear & receive his gifts, and think fully that our nation will be covered after our return. Our people will look for us with the same impatience that our Grandfather looks for your return.
If I am going to see my Grandfather, many bad nations on the road, I am not afraid to die for the good of my people (all cried around him.)
The Chief by me will go to the Mandans & hear what they will say. (We agreed.)
The very moment we set out to go down we will send out my brother to bring all the nation in the open prairie to see me part on this great mission to see my Great father.
Our people hunting shall be glad to hear of your being here & they will all come to see. As you cannot stay they must wait for your return to see you. We are poor, take pity on our wants.
The road is for you all to go on. Who do you think will injure a white man when they come to exchange for our Robes & Beaver?
After you set out many nations in the open plains may come to make war against us, we wish you to stop their guns & prevent it if possible.
3d Chief of Arikara
My fathers I will see the Indians below & see if they have the heart as they tell you.
The nation below is the (Mandan) Mahars & Otos & but one nation, (the Sioux) has not a good heart.
I always look at the 1st Chief & the 2d when they go & will also follow their example & go on also.
You see those 2 men, they are chiefs, when I go they will take care, they believe your words.
Maybe we will not tell the truth, as to the Child. Perhaps they will not wish to go.
My Children, the old women & men, when I return I can then give them, some a knife, some powder & others ball &c. What is the matter if we were to go for nothing? My great Chief wishes to go, I wish to go also.
When I go to see my Grandfather I wish to return quick for fear of my people being uneasy.
My children are small, & perhaps will be uneasy when I may be safe. I must go, I also wish to go, perhaps I may when I return make my people glad.
I will stay at home & not go to war, even if my people are struck
We will believe your word but I fear the Indians above will not believe your word.
I will think that ½ of the men who will return will stay in this village, ½ below in the other villages.
What did the Sioux tell you? (we informed them)
Friday 12th Oct 1804
The Indians assembled on the bank near us for to trade with us. They wanted red paint mostly, but would give whatever they had to spare for any kind of goods. One of the men gave an Indian a pin hook & the Indian gave him in return a pair of moccasins. We gave them some small articles of goods for buffalo robes & moccasins &c. The officers went to the villages in order to hear what the chiefs had to say. They gave us 10 or 12 bushels of corn & beans &c. The officers came on board about 12 o'clock. Took a good Indian with us who had been to the head of the Missouri River. About 1 o'clock we set off, the fiddle playing & the horns sounding &c. A little above the towns we saw a great number of squaws employed in toting wood across the river in their buffalo hide canoes.
Friday 12th. Last night the Indians stole an axe from our cook, which of course in some degree diminished our confidence, and lessened the amicable character we had conceived of them. At 9 o'clock Captain Lewis, Captain Clark and myself went to the 2nd Village, and talked with its chief, then to the third Village, about half a mile beyond a small creek, and talked with the chief of that Village; and got some corn and beans from them. The third village is nearly of the same size of the second, and has in it a great number of handsome and smart women and children: the men are mostly out hunting. About 12 we left the village and proceeded on our voyage. One of the natives agreed to go with us as far as the Mandans. We encamped on the north side. After dark we heard some person hallooing on the opposite shore; and a pirogue went over and brought an Indian and two squaws, who remained with us all night.
13th of October Saturday 1804
Passed a camp of Sioux on the starboard side. Those people did not speak to us. Passed a creek on the starboard side 18 miles above the Arikaras I call Stone Idol Creek. This creek heads in a small lake at no great distance, near which there is a stone to which the Indians ascribe great virtue &. &c.
13th of October Saturday 1804
The visitors of last evening all except one returned, which is the Brother of the Chief we have on board. Passed a creek on the starboard side 13 yards at 18 miles above the town heading in some ponds a short distance to the northeast we call Stone Idol Creek. Nearly opposite this creek a few miles from the river on the starboard side 2 stones resembling human persons & one resembling a dog is situated in the open prairie. To those stones the Arikara pay great reverence, make offerings &c. Whenever they pass (information of the chief & interpreter) those people have a curious tradition of those stones. One was a man in love, one a girl whose parents would not let her marry. The dog went to mourn with them, all turned to stone gradually, commencing at the feet. Those people fed on grapes until they turned, & the woman has a bunch of grapes yet in her hand. On the river near the place those are said to be situated, we observed a greater quantity of fine grapes than I ever saw at one place.
14th of October Sunday 1804
Halted on a sandbar and had the punishment inflicted on Newman, which caused the Indian Chief to cry until the thing was explained to him. Camped opposite an ancient fortification which is on the larboard side. When I explained to the Chief the cause of whipping Newman he observed that examples were necessary & that he himself had made them by death, but his nation never whipped even from their birth.
14th of October Sunday 1804
The punishment of this day alarmed the Indian Chief very much, he Cried aloud (or effected to Cry). I explained the cause of the punishment and the necessity (which) he thought examples were also necessary, & he himself had made them by death, his nation never whipped even their children, from their birth.
15th of October
Rained all last night, passed an Arikara hunting camp on the starboard side & halted at another on the larboard side. Several from the 1st camp visited
us and gave [us] meat, as also those of the camp we halted at. We gave them
fish hooks, some beads &c. As we proceeded on we saw a number of Indians on both sides all day. Saw larboard side some curious knobs, high and much the resemblance of a hipped roof house. We halted at a camp of 10 lodges of Arikaras on the starboard side. We visited their lodges & were friendly received by all. Their women fond of our men &c.
15th of October Monday 1804
At 3 miles passed an Indian camp on the starboard side. We halted above and about 30 of the Indians came over in their canoes of skins. We ate with them, they gave us meat, and in return we gave fishhooks & some beads. About a mile higher we came to on the larboard side at a camp of Arikaras of about 8 lodges. We also ate & they gave some meat, (here we found the relation of). . . At sunset we arrived at a camp of Arikaras of 10 lodges on the starboard side. We came to and camped near them. Capt. Lewis & myself went with the Chief who accompanies us to the huts of several of the men, all of whom smoked & gave us something to eat, also some meat to take away. Those people were kind and appeared to be much pleased at the attention paid them. Those people are much pleased with my black servant [York], their women very fond of caressing our men &c.
Monday 15th Oct.
At 7 o'clock we met a hunting party of the Arikara coming down the river returning to their village. They had 12 canoes made of buffalo hides loaded with excellent fat meat. We halted with them about 2 hours. They gave us some of their fat meat to carry with us & gave us some that they cooked to eat. We smoked with them. Their party consisted of men, women & children. Our officers gave them in return some fishhooks, beads &c. We proceeded on, passed barren hills on the south side of the river. At sunset we camped on the north side at a hunting camp of the Arikara nation. There were about 30 men & a number of women & children at this camp. They treated us in the same manner as the rest of their nation did. The greatest curiosity to them was York, Capt. Clark's black man. All the nation made a great deal of him. The children would follow after him, & if he turned towards them they would run from him & hollow as if they were terrified, & afraid of him.
Monday 15th. About 10, we saw another party of hunters, who asked us to eat and gave us some meat. One of these requested to speak with our young squaw, who for some time hid herself, but at last came out and spoke with him. She then went on shore and talked with him, and gave him a pair of earrings and drops for leave to come with us; and when the horn blew for all hands to come on board, she left them and came to the boat. We passed a creek on the south side, and encamped at dusk on the north; where there was a party of Indians about 30 in number. Our squaw remained with this party: they gave us some meat and appeared very glad to see us.
16th of October Tuesday 1804
2 Squaws very anxious to accompany us. We set [out] with our Chief on Board by name Ar ke tar nar shar (or Chief of the Town). Capt. Lewis, one man & the Arikara Chief walked on shore. In the evening I discovered a number of Indians on each side and goats in the river or swimming & on sandbars. When I came near I saw the boys in the water swimming amongst the goats & killing them with sticks, and then hauling them to the shore. Those on shore kept them in the water. I saw 58 killed in this way and on the shore, the hunter with Capt. Lewis Shot 3 goats. I came to and camped above the Arikara camp on the larboard side. Several Indians visited us during the night, some with meat; sang and were merry all night.
16th October Tuesday 1804
Soon after I discovered great numbers of goats in the river, and Indians on the shore on each side. As I approached or got nearer I discovered boys in the water killing the goats with sticks and hauling them to shore. Those on the banks shot them with arrows and as they approached the shore would turn them back of this gang of goats. I counted 58 of which they had killed & on the shore. One of our hunters out with Capt. Lewis killed three goats. We passed the camp on the starboard side and proceeded ½ mile and camped on the larboard side. Many Indians came to the boat to see, some came across late at night. As they approached they hollowed and sung. After staying a short time, 2 went for some meat, and returned in a short time with fresh & dried buffalo, also goat. Those Indians stayed all night. They sung and was very merry the greater part of the night.
Tuesday 16th Oct. 1804
Directly after we passed a hunting camp of the Arikara nation on the north side. Above the camp we saw a great number of Indians on each side of the river. They were shooting a flock of goats which they had driven into the river. They shot upwards of 40 of them & got them to shore. They had shot them all with their bows & arrows. We saw some of the goats floating down with the arrows sticking up in them. We saw a large flock of goats back on the hills, which we suppose they had scared from the river. Our hunter killed 3 goats out of the same flock. The Indians killed theirs; when the Indians killed the goats in the river they swam in & drew them out to each shore. We saw them all lying along the shore & some Indians on horseback to keep them or the flock in the river, so that they might kill as many as they pleased.
17th of October 1804
I walked on shore with the Arikara Chief and an interpreter, they told me many extraordinary stories. I killed 3 deer & an elk. The Chief killed a deer and our hunters killed 4 deer. The Chief tells me those animals winter in the Black Mountains, and in the fall return to those mounts from every quarter, and in the spring disperse in the plains. Those immense herds we see, all of which is on the northeast side of the river, is on their way to the mountain, and in the spring they will be as numerous on their return (some gangs winter on the Missouri).
17th October (Friday) Wednesday 1804
This Chief tells me of a number of their traditions about turtles, snakes, &c. and the power of a particular rock or cave on the next river which informs of everything. None of those I think worthwhile mentioning.
Wednesday 17th Oct.
Eight Indians came on from their camp last night & brought us some meat. They remained with us all night & sang the most of the night. In the morning our officers gave them some fancy goods in return for the meat.
19th of October Friday 1804
I saw in my walk several remarkable high conical hills, one 90 feet, one 60 and others smaller. The Indian Chief says that the Calumet Bird lives in the hollows of those hills, which holes are made by the water passing from the top &c. I also saw an old village fortified situated on the top of a high point, which the Arikara Chief tells me were Mandans.
28th of February 1805 Thursday
Mr. Gravelines, 2 Frenchmen and 2 Arikaras arrived from the Arikaras with letters from Mr. Tabeau &c. informing us of the determination of the Arikaras to follow our councils and the threats & intentions of the Sioux in killing us whenever they again meet us, and that a party of several bands were forming to attack the Mandans &c. &c. We informed the Mandans & others of this information & (answered) also the wish the Arikaras had to live near them & fight the Sioux &c. &c. &c.
Thursday 21st August 1806
At half past 11 A.M. we arrived in view of the upper Arikara villages, a great number of women collecting wood on the banks. We saluted the village with four guns (on starboard) and they returned the salute by firing several guns in the village. I observed several very white lodges on the hill above the town which the Arikaras from the shore informed me were Cheyenne who had just arrived. We landed opposite to the 2nd village and were met by the most of the men, women and children of each village, as also the Cheyenne. They all appeared anxious to take us by the hand and much rejoiced to see us return. I stepped on shore and was saluted by the two great Chiefs, whom we had made or given medals to as we ascended this river in 1804, and also saluted by a great number both of Arikaras & Cheyenne, as they appeared anxious to hear what we had done &c. as well as to hear something about the Mandans & Hidatsas. I set my self down on the side of the bank and the Chiefs & brave men of the Arikaras & Cheyenne formed a circle around me. After taking a smoke of Mandan tobacco which the Big White Chief who was seated on my left hand furnished, I informed them as I had before informed the Mandans & Hidatsas, where we had been what we had done and said to the different nations in their favor and invited some of their Chiefs to accompany us down and see their great father and receive from his own mouth his good councils and from his own hands his bountiful gifts &c. Telling pretty much the same which I had told the Mandans and Hidatsas. Told them not to be afraid of any nation below that none would hurt them &c. A man of about 32 years of age was introduced to me as 1st Chief of the nation. This man they call the Gray Eyes. He was absent from the Nation at the time we passed up. The man whom we had acknowledged as the principal chief informed me that the Gray Eyes was a greater Chief than himself and that he had given up all his pretensions with the flag and medal to the Gray Eyes. The principal chief of the [Arikaras] was then introduced. He's a stout, jolly fellow of about 35 years of age whom the Arikaras call the Gray Eyes. I also told the Arikaras that I was very sorry to hear that they were not on friendly terms with their neighbors the Mandans & Hidatsas and had not listened to what we had said to them but had suffered their young men to join the Sioux who had killed 8 Mandans &c. That their young men had stolen the horses of the Hidatsas, in retaliation for those injuries the Mandans & Hidatsas had sent out a war party and killed 2 Arikaras. How themselves would not listen to what their great father had told them. I could they expect other nations would be at peace with them when they further informed them that the Mandans & (Arikaras) Hidatsas had opened their cars to what we had said to them but had stayed at home until they were struck. That they were still disposed to be friendly and on good terms with the Arikaras. They then saw the great Chief of the Mandans by my side who was on his way to see his great father, and was directed by his nation & the Hidatsas & Maharhas, to smoke in the pipe of peace with you and to tell you not to be afraid to go to their towns, or take the birds in the plains, that their ears were open to our councils and no harm should be done to an Arikara. The Chief will speak presently. The Gray Eyes Chief of the Arikaras made a very animated speech in which he mentioned his willingness of following the councils which we had given them that they had some bad young men who would not listen to the councils but would join the Sioux. Those men they had discarded and drove out of their villages, that the Sioux were the cause of their misunderstanding &c. That they were a bad people. That they had killed several of the Arikaras since I saw them. That several of the chiefs wished to accompany us down to see their great father, but wished to see the Chief who went down last summer return first. He expressed some apprehension as to the safety of that Chief in passing the Sioux. That the Arikaras had every wish to be friendly with the Mandans &c. That every Mandan &c. who chose to visit the Arikaras should be safe, that he should continue with his nation and see that they followed the council which we had given them &c.
Friday 22nd August 1806.
At 8 A.M. I was requested to go to the Chiefs. I walked up and he informed me that he should not go down but would stay and take care of the village and prevent the young men from doing wrong and spoke much to the same purport of the Gray Eyes. The 2nd Chief spoke to the same and all they said was only a repetition of what they had said before. The Chief gave me some soft corn and the 2nd Chief some tobacco seed. The interpreter Garrow informed me that he had been speaking to the Chiefs & warriors this morning and assured me that they had no intention of going down until the return of the Chief who went down last spring was a year. I told the Chiefs to attend to what we had said to them, that in a short time they would find our words true and councils good. They promised to attend strictly to what had been said to them, and observed that they must trade with the Sioux one more time to get guns and powder; that they had no guns or powder and had more horses than they had use for. After they got guns and powder that they would never again have anything to do with them &c. &c. I returned to the canoes & directed the men to prepare to set out. Some Cheyenne from two lodges on the main (N) S.E. shore came and smoked with me and at 11 A.M. we set out, having parted with those people who appeared to be sorry to part with us.
Monday 25th August 1806
The Arikaras had formerly a large village on each side which was destroyed by the Sioux. There are the remains of 5 other villages on the S.W. side below the Cheyenne River and one on Le ho catts Island. All those villages have been broken up by the Sioux.