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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For October 19:
Captain Clark (current)
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The Great Chief Yelleppit, two other chiefs, and a chief of a band below presented themselves to us very early this morning. We smoked with them, informed them, as we had all others above, as well as we could by signs, of our friendly intentions toward our red children, particularly those who opened their ears to our counsels. We gave a medal, a handkerchief, and a string of wampum to Yelleppit and a string of wampum to each of the others. Yelleppit is a bold, handsome Indian, with a dignified countenance, about 35 years of age.
Great numbers of Indians came down in canoes to view us before we set out, which was not until 9 o'clock A.M. We arrived at the head of a very bad rapid. As the channel appeared to be close under the opposite shore and it would be necessary to lighten our canoe, I determined to walk down on the larboard side, with the two chiefs, the interpreter, and his woman, and directed the small canoe to proceed down on the larboard side to the foot of the rapid, which was about 2 miles in length.
I sent on the Indian chief &c. down, and I ascended a high cliff, about 200 feet above the water, from the top of which is a level plain, extending up the river and off for a great extent. From this place I discovered a high mountain of immense height, covered with snow. This must be one of the mountains laid down by Vancouver, as seen from the mouth of the Columbia River. From the course which it bears, which is west, I take it to be Mt. St. Helens, distant about 120 miles, a range of mountains in the direction crossing a conical mountain southwest, topped with snow.
I observed a great number of lodges on the opposite side at some distance below, and several Indians on the opposite bank passing up to where Captain Lewis was with the canoes. Others I saw on a knob nearly opposite to me, at which place they delayed but a short time before they returned to their lodges as fast as they could run. I was fearful that those people might not be informed of us. I determined to take the little canoe which was with me, and proceed with the three men in it, to the lodges. On my approach, not one person was to be seen except three men off in the plains, and they sheered off as I approached near the shore.
I landed in front of five lodges which were at no great distance from each other. Saw no person. The entrances or doors of the lodges were shut, with the same materials of which they were built - a mat. I approached one, with a pipe in my hand, entered a lodge which was the nearest to me. Found 32 persons - men, women, and a few children - sitting promiscuously in the lodge, in the greatest agitation, some crying and wringing their hands, others hanging their heads. I gave my hand to them all, and made signs of my friendly disposition, and offered the men my pipe to smoke, and distributed a few small articles which I had in my pockets. This measure pacified those distressed people very much. I then sent one man into each lodge, and entered a second myself, the inhabitants of which I found more frightened than those of the first lodge. I distributed sundry small articles among them, and smoked with the men.
I then entered the third, fourth, and fifth lodges, which I found somewhat pacified, the three men, Drouilliard, Joe and R. Fields, having used every means in their power to convince them of our friendly disposition to them. I then sat myself on a rock and made signs to the men to come and smoke with me. Not one came out until the canoes arrived with the two chiefs, one of whom spoke aloud and as was their custom to all we had passed. The Indians came out and sat by me, and smoked. They said we came from the clouds, &c., &c., and were not men, &c., &c.
This time Captain Lewis came down with the canoes in which the Indians were. As soon as they saw the squaw wife of the interpreter, they pointed to her and informed those who continued yet in the same position I first found them. They immediately all came out and appeared to assume new life. The sight of this Indian woman, wife to one of our interpreters, confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter. Captain Lewis joined us, and we smoked with those people in the greatest friendship, during which time one of our old chiefs informed them who we were, from whence we came, and where we were going; giving them a friendly account of us. Passed a small rapid and 15 lodges below the five, and encamped below an island close under the larboard side, nearly opposite to 24 lodges on an island near the middle of the river, and the main starboard shore. Soon after we landed, which was at a few willow trees, about 100 Indians came from the different lodges, and a number of them brought wood, which they gave us. We smoked with all of them, and two of our party - Peter Cruzat and Gibson - played on the violin, which delighted them greatly.
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.