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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For August 31:
Captain Clark (current)
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After the Indians got their breakfast, the chiefs met and arranged themselves in a row, with elegant pipes of peace all pointing to our seats. We came forward, and took our seats. The great chief, The Shake Hand, rose, and spoke at some length, approving what we had said, and promising to pursue the advice.
Martoree, second chief (White Crane) rose and made a short speech, and referred to the great chief, Parnarnearparbe (Struck by the Pawnees). Third chief rose and made a short speech, Areawecharche (The Half Man). Third chief rose and spoke at some length to the same purpose. The other chief said but little. One of the warriors spoke, after all were done, and promised to support the chiefs. They promised to go and see their Great Father in the spring with Mr. Dorion, and to do all things we advised them to do. And all concluded by telling the distresses of their nation by not having traders, and wished us to take pity on them. They wanted powder, ball, and a little milk. [Rum: "milk of Great Father" means spirits.]
Last night the Indians danced until late in their dances. We gave them [threw in to them as is usual] some knives, tobacco, and bells, tape, and binding, with which they were satisfied.
We gave a certificate to two men of war, attendants on the chief. Gave to all the chiefs a carrot of tobacco. Had a talk with Mr. Dorion, who agreed to stay and collect the chiefs from as many bands of Sioux as he could this fall, and bring about a peace between the Sioux and their neighbors, &c.
After dinner, we gave Mr. Peter Dorion a commission to act with a flag and some clothes and provisions and instructions to bring about a peace with the Sioux, Mahas, Pawnees, Poncas, Otos, and Missouris, and to employ any trader to take some of the chiefs of each, or as many of those nations as he could, particularly the Sioux, down to Washington. I took a vocabulary of the Sioux language, and the answer to a few queries such as referred to their situation, trade, number, war, &c. This nation is divided into twenty tribes, possessing separate interests. Collectively, they are numerous - say from two to three thousand men. Their interests are so unconnected that some bands are at war with nations with which other bands are on the most friendly terms.
This great nation, whom the French have given the nickname of Sioux, call themselves Dakota-Darcotar. Their language is not peculiarly their own, they speak a great number of words which are the same in every respect with the Maha, Ponca, Osage, and Kansas, which clearly proves that those nations, at some period not more than a century or two past, are of the same nation. Those Darcotars, or Sioux, inhabit or rove over the country on the Red River of Lake Winnipeg, St. Peters, and the west of the Mississippi, above Prairie du Chien, head of River Des Moines, and the Missouri and its waters on the N. side for a great extent. They are only at peace with eight nations, and, agreeable to their calculation, at war with twenty-odd. Their trade comes from the British, except this band and one on Des Moines who trade with the traders of St. Louis. The Sioux rove and follow the buffalo, raise no corn or anything else, the woods and prairies affording a sufficiency. They eat meat, and substitute the ground potato, which grows in the plains, for bread.
In the evening, late, we gave Mr. Dorion a bottle of whiskey, and he, with the chiefs, and his son, crossed the river and camped on the opposite bank. Soon after night, a violent wind from the N.W. with rain. The rain continued the greater part of the night. The river a-rising a little.
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.