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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For January 9:
Captain Clark (current)
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A fine morning. Wind from the N.E. Last night about 10 o'clock, while smoking with the natives, I was alarmed by a loud shrill voice from the cabins on the opposite side. The Indians all ran immediately across to the village. My guide, who continued with me, made signs that someone's throat was cut. By inquiry, I found that one man, McNeal, was l absent. I immediately sent off Sergeant N. Pryor and four men in quest of McNeal, whom they met coming across the creek in great haste, and informed me that the people were alarmed on the opposite side at something, but what he could not tell; a man had very friendlily invited him to go and eat in his lodge; that the Indian had locked arms with him and went to a lodge in which a woman gave him some blubber, that the man invited him to another lodge to get something better, and the woman knowing his design held him [McNeal] by the blanket which he had around him. He, not knowing her object, freed himself and was going off, when this woman a Chinook, an old friend of McNeal's and another, ran out and helloed, and his pretended friend disappeared.
I immediately ordered every man to hold himself in a state of readiness, and sent Sergeant Pryor and four men to know the cause of the alarm, which was found to be a premeditated plan of the pretended friend of McNeal to assassinate him for his blanket and what few articles he had about him, which was found out by a Chinook woman, who alarmed the men of the village who were with me, in time to prevent the horrid act. This man was of another band, at some distance, and ran off as soon as he was discovered.
We have now to look back and shudder at the dreadful road on which we have to return, of 45 miles S.E. of Point Adams and 35 miles from Fort Clatsop. I had the blubber and oil divided among the party, and set out about sunrise and returned by the same route we had gone out. Met several parties of men and women of the Chinook and Clatsop nations on their way to trade with the Tillamooks for blubber and oil.
On the steep descent of the mountain, I overtook five men and six women with immense loads of the oil and blubber of the whale. Those Indians had passed by some route by which we missed them as we went out yesterday. One of the women, in the act of getting down a steep part of the mountain, her load by some means had slipped off her back, and she was holding the load by a strap which was fastened to the mat bag in which it was in, in one hand and holding a bush by the other. As I was in front of my party, I endeavored to relieve this woman by taking her load until she could get to a better place a little below, and to my astonishment found the load as much as I could lift, and must exceed 100 pounds. The husband of this woman, who was below, soon came to her relief.
Those people proceeded on with us to the salt works, at which place we arrived late in the evening. Found them without meat, and three of the party J. Fields, Gibson, and Shannon out hunting. As I was excessively fatigued, and my party appeared very much so, I determined to stay until the morning and rest ourselves a little. The Clatsops proceeded on with their loads. The Clatsops, Chinooks, Tilla-mooks, &c., are very loquacious and inquisitive. They possess good memories and have repeated to us the names, capacities of the vessels, &c., of many traders and others who have visited the mouth of this river.
They are generally low in stature, proportionately small, rather lighter-complexioned, and much more illy formed than the Indians of the Missouri and those of our frontiers. They are generally cheerful, but never gay. With us, their conversation generally turns upon the subject of trade, smoking, eating, or their women. About the latter they speak without reserve in their presence - - of their every part, and of the most familiar connection. They do not hold the virtue of their women in high estimation, and will even prostitute their wives and daughters for a fishing hook or a strand of beads.
Reprinted by permission of the American Studies Programs at the University of Virginia.
The complete text can also be downloaded for printing from their website.