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Entries For October 12:
Captain Clark (current)
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I rose early. After breakfast we joined the Indians who were waiting on the bank for us to come out and go and counsel. We accordingly joined them, and went to the house of the 2nd chief, Lassel, where there were many chiefs and warriors, and they made us a present of about 7 bushels of corn, a pair of leggings, a twist of their tobacco, and seeds of two kinds of tobacco. We sat some time before the council commenced. This man spoke at some length, declaring his disposition to believe and pursue our counsels, his intension of going to visit his Great Father, acknowledged the satisfaction in receiving the presents, &c., raising a doubt as to the safety in passing the nations below [downstream] particularly the Sioux. Requested us to take a chief of their nation and make a good peace with the Mandans and nations above. After answering those parts of the 2nd chief's speech which required it, which appeared to give general satisfaction, we went to the village of the 3rd chief and, as usual, some ceremony took place before he could speak to us on the great subject. This chief spoke very much in the same style on nearly the same subjects as the other chief, who sat by his side, more sincerely and pleasantly. He presented us with about 10 bushels of corn, some beans and squashes, all of which we accepted with much pleasure. After we had answered his speech, and given them some account of the magnitude and power of our country, which pleased and astonished them very much, we returned to our boat. The chiefs accompanied us on board. We gave them some sugar, a little salt, and a sun glass, and set 2 on shore, and the third proceeded on with us to the Mandans. At 2 o'clock we set out, the inhabitants of the two villages viewing us from the banks. We proceeded on about 9 l/2 miles and camped on the S.S. at some woods. The evening clear and pleasantly cool.
The nation of the Arikaras is about 600 men (Mr. Tabeau says; I think 500 men [Mr. Tabeau is right]) able to bear arms. A great proportion of them have fusees. They appear to be peaceful. Their men tall and proportioned, women small and industrious, raise great quantities of corn, beans, simlins,[summer squash] &c., also tobacco for the men to smoke. They collect all the wood and do the drudgery, as is common among savages.
Two villages are made up of ten [nine] different tribes of the Pawnees, who had formerly been separate, but by commotion and war with their neighbors have become reduced, and compelled to come together for protection. The corruption of the language of those different tribes has so reduced the language that the different villages do not understand all the words of the others.
Those people are dirty, kind, poor, and extravagant, possessing national pride, not beggarly, receive what is given with great pleasure, live in warm houses, large and built in an octagon form, forming a cone at top which is left open for the smoke to pass. Those houses are generally 30 or 40 feet in diameter, covered with earth on poles - willows and grass to prevent the earth passing through. Those people express an inclination to be at peace with all nations. The Sioux, who trade the goods which they get of the British traders for their corn and have great influence over the Arikaras, poison their minds and keep them in perpetual dread.
A curious custom with the Sioux, as well as the Arikaras, is to give handsome squaws to those whom they wish to show some acknowledgments to. The Sioux we got clear of without taking their squaws. They followed us with squaws two days. The Arikaras we put off during the time we were at the towns, but two handsome young squaws were sent by a man to follow us. They came up this evening and persisted in their civilities.
Dress of the men of this nation is simply a pair of moccasins, leggings, flap in front, and a buffalo robe, with their hair, arms, and ears decorated.
The women wore moccasins, leggings fringed, and a shirt of goat skins, some with sleeves. This garment is long and generally white and fringed, tied at the waist, with a robe. In summer, without hair.
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.