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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For October 25:
Captain Clark (current)
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A cold morning. Set out early under a gentle breeze from the S.E. by E. Proceeded on. Passed the 3rd old village of the Mandans which has been deserted for many years. This village was situated on an eminence of about 40 feet above the water on the L.S. Back for several miles is a beautiful plain. At a short distance above this old village, on a continuation of the same eminence was situated the Arikaras' village. Two old villages of Arikaras, one on top of high hill, the second below, in the bottom, which have been evacuated only six [five] years. About 3 or 4 miles above Arikaras' villages are 3 old villages of Mandans near together. Here they lived when the Arikaras came for protection - afterward moved where they now live. Above this village, a large and extensive bottom for several miles in which the squaws raised their corn. But little timber near the villages. On the S.S., below, is a point of excellent timber, and in the point several miles above is fine timber.
Several parties of Mandans rode to the river on the S.S. to view us. Indeed they are continually in sight, satisfying their curiosities as to our appearance, &c. We are told that the Sioux have latterly fallen in with and stolen the horses of the Big Bellies [Gros Ventres]. On their way home they fell in with the Assiniboines, who killed them and took the horses. A Frenchman has latterly been killed by the Indians, on the track to the trading establishment on the Assiniboine River in the north of this place (or British fort). This Frenchman has lived many years with the Mandans.
We were frequently called on to land and talk to parties of the Mandans on the shore.
Wind shifted to the S.W. at about 11 o'clock, and blew hard until 3 o'clock. Clouded up. River full of sand bars, and we are at a great loss to find the channel of the river. Frequently run on the sand bars, which delays us much. Passed a very bad riffle of rocks in the evening, by taking the L.S. of a sand bar, and camped on a sand point on the S.S. opposite a high hill on the L.S. Several Indians came to see us this evening - among others, the son of the great chief of the Mandans - mourning for his father. This man has his two little fingers off. On inquiring the cause, was told it was customary for this nation to show their grief by some testimony of pain, and that it was not uncommon for them to take off 2 smaller fingers on the hand, at the second joints, and sometimes more, with other marks of savage affection.
The wind blew very hard this evening from the S.W. Very cold. R. Fields with the rheumatism in his neck. P. Cruzat with the same complaint in his legs. The party otherwise is well. As to myself, I feel but slight symptoms of that disorder at this time.
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.