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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For October 31:
Captain Clark (current)
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Two chiefs came to have some talk: one the principal of the lower village, the other the one who thought himself the principal man, and requested to hear some of the speech that was delivered yesterday. They were gratified; and we put the medal on the neck of The Big White, to whom we had sent clothes yesterday, and a flag. Those men did not return from hunting in time to join the council. They were well pleased. (Second of those is a Cheyenne.) I took 8 men in a small pirogue and went up the river as far as the first island, about 7 miles, to see if a situation could be got on it for our winter quarters. Found the wood on the island, as also on the point above, so distant from the water that I did not think that we could get a good wintering ground there; and as all the white men here informed us that wood was scarce, as well as game above, we determined to drop down a few miles near wood and game.
On my return, found many Indians at our camp. Gave the party a dram. They danced, as is very common in the evening, which pleased the savages much. Wind S.E. A fine morning. The chief of the Mandans sent a second chief to invite us to his lodge to receive some corn and hear what he had to say. I walked down and, with great ceremony, was seated on a robe by the side of the chief. He threw a handsome robe over me, and after smoking the pipe with several old men around, the chief spoke:
Said he believed what we had told them, and that peace would be general, which not only gave him satisfaction but all his people: they could now hunt without fear, and their women could work in the fields without looking every moment for the enemy; and put off their moccasins at night. [Sign of peace: undress.] As to the Arikaras, we will show you that we wish peace with all, and do not make war on any without cause. That chief - pointing to the second - and some brave men will accompany the Arikara chief now with you to his village and nation, to smoke with that people. When you came up, the Indians in the neighboring vil1ages, as well as those out hunting, when they heard of you, had great expectations of receiving presents. Those hunting, immediately on hearing, returned to the village; and all were disappointed, and some dissatisfied. As to himself, he was not much so; but his village was. He would go and see his Great Father, &c.
He had put before me two of the steel traps which were robbed from the French a short time ago, and about twelve bushels of corn, which were brought and put before me by the women of the village. After the chief finished and smoked in great ceremony, I answered the speech, which satisfied them very much, and returned to the boat. Met the principal chief of the third village, and the Little Crow, both of whom I invited into the cabin, and smoked and talked with for about one hour.
Soon after those chiefs left us, the grand chief of the Mandans came, dressed in the clothes we had given, with his two small sons, and requested to see the men dance, which they very readily gratified him in. The wind blew hard all the after part of the day from the N.E., and continued all night to blow hard from that point. In the morning it shifted N.W. Captain Lewis wrote to the N.W. Company's agent on the Assiniboine River [fort, &c., there, about 150 miles hence] about nine days' march north of this place.
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.