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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For January 9:
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The persons who usually visit the entrance of this river for the purpose of traffic or hunting, I believe are either English or Americans. The Indians inform us that they speak the same language with ourselves, and give us proofs of their veracity by repeating many words of English, as musket, powder, shot, knife, file, damned rascal, son of a bitch, &c. Whether these traders are from Nootka Sound, from some other late establishment on this coast, or immediately from the U. States or Great Britain, I am at a loss to determine, nor can the Indians inform us.
The Indians whom I have asked in what direction the traders go when they depart from hence or arrive here, always point to the S.W., from which it is presumable that Nootka cannot be their destination; and as, from Indian information, a majority of these traders annually visit them about the beginning of April and remain with them six or seven months, they cannot come immediately from Great Britain or the U. States, the distance being too great for them to go and return in the balance of the year. From this circumstance I am sometimes induced to believe that there is some other establishment on the coast of America, southwest of this place, of which little is but yet known to the world, or it may be perhaps on some little island in the Pacific Ocean, between the continents of Asia and America, to the southwest of us.
This traffic on the part of the whites consists in vending guns (principally old British or American muskets), powder, balls and shot, copper and brass kettles, brass teakettles and coffeepots, blankets from two to three points, scarlet and blue cloth (coarse), plates and strips of sheet copper and brass, large brass wire, knives, beads, and tobacco, with fishing hooks, buttons, and some other small articles. Also a considerable quantity of sailors' clothes, as hats, coats, trousers, and shirts. For these they receive in return from the natives dressed and undressed elk skins, skins of the seaotter, common otter, beaver, common fox, spuck, and tiger cat; also dried and pounded salmon in baskets, and a kind of biscuit which the natives make of roots, called by them shappellel.
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.