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Entries For April 17:
Captain Clark (current)
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I rose early after a bad night's rest, and took my merchandise to a rock which afforded an eligible situation for my purpose and divided the articles of merchandise into parcels of such articles as I thought best calculated to please the Indians. And in each parcel I put as many articles as we could afford to give, and thus exposed them to view, informing the Indians that each parcel was intended for a horse.
They tantalized me the greater part of the day, saying that they had sent out for their horses and would trade as soon as they came. Several parcels of merchandise were laid by for which they told me they would bring horses. I made a bargain with the chief for two horses. About an hour after, he canceled the bargain, and we again bargained for three horses, which were brought forward. Only one of the three could be possibly used, the other two had such intolerable backs as to render them entirely unfit for service. I refused to take two of them, which displeased him, and he refused to part with the third.
I then packed up the articles and was about setting out for the village above, when a man came and sold me two horses, and another man sold me one horse, and several others informed me that they would trade with me if I would continue until their horses could be driven up. This induced me to continue at this village another day. Many of the natives from different villages on the Columbia above offered to trade, but asked such things as we had not, and double as much of the articles which I had as we could afford to give. This was a very unfavorable circumstance, as my dependence for procuring a sufficiency of horses rested on the success above, where I had reasons to believe there was a greater abundance of those animals, and was in hopes of getting them on better terms. I purchased three dogs for the party with me to eat, and some shappellel for myself.
Before procuring the three horses, I dispatched Cruzat, Willard, and McNeal and Peter Wiser to Captain Lewis with a note informing him of my ill success in procuring horses, and advised him to proceed on to this place as soon as possible. That I would, in the meantime, proceed on to the Eneeshur nation, above the Great Falls, and try to purchase some horses of that people.
Soon after I had dispatched this party, the chief of the Eneeshurs and 15 or 20 of his people visited me, and appeared to be anxious to see the articles I offered for the horses. Several of them agreed to let me have horses if I would add sundry articles to those I offered, which I agreed to do, and they laid those bundles by and informed me they would deliver me the horses in the morning. I proposed going with them to their town. The chief informed me that their horses were all in the plains with their women gathering roots. They would send out and bring the horses to this place tomorrow.
This intelligence was flattering, though I doubted the sincerity of those people, who had several times disappointed me in a similar way. However, I determined to continue until tomorrow. In the meantime, industriously employed ourselves with the great multitude of Indians of different nations about us, trying to purchase horses. Charbonneau purchased a very fine mare for which he gave ermine, elk's teeth, a belt, and some other articles of no great value. No other purchase was made in the course of this day.
In the evening, I received a note from Captain Lewis by Shannon, informing me that he should set out early on tomorrow morning.
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.