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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For September 1:
Captain Clark (current)
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About two miles below the Quicurre, 9 Indians ran down the bank and beckoned us to land. They appeared to be a war party, and I took them to be Tetons and paid no kind of attention to them further than an inquiry to what tribe they belonged. They did not give me any answer. I presume they did not understand the man who spoke to them, as he spoke but little of their language. As one canoe was yet behind, we landed in an open, commanding situation, out of sight of the Indians, determined to delay until they came up.
About 15 minutes after we had landed, several guns were fired by the Indians, which we expected was at the three men behind. I called out 15 men and ran up with a full determination to cover them if possible, let the number of Indians be what they might. Captain Lewis hobbled up on the bank and formed the remainder of the party in a situation well calculated to defend themselves and the canoes, &c. When I had proceeded to the point about 250 yards, I discovered the canoe about 1 mile above, and the Indians where we had left them.
I then walked on the sand beach and the Indians came down to meet me. I gave them my hand and inquired of them what they were shooting at. They informed me that they were shooting off their guns at an old keg which we had thrown out of one of the canoes and was floating down. Those Indians informed me they were Yanktons. One of the men with me knew one of the Indians to be the brother of young Dorion's wife.
Finding those Indians to be Yanktons, I invited them down to the boats to smoke. When we arrived at the canoes, they all eagerly saluted the Mandan chief, and we all sat and smoked several pipes. I told them that we took them to be a party of Tetons, and the firing, I expected, was at the three men in the rear canoe, and I had gone up with a full intention to kill them all if they had been Tetons and fired on the canoe as we first expected, but, finding them Yanktons and good men, we were glad to see them and take them by the hand as faithful children who had opened their ears to our counsels.
One of them spoke and said that their nation had opened their ears and done as we had directed them ever since we gave the medal to their great chief, and should continue to do as we had told them. We inquired if any of their chiefs had gone down with Mr. Dorion. They answered that their great chief and many of their brave men had gone down, that the white people had built a house near the Maha village where they traded. We tied a piece of ribbon to each man's hair and gave them some corn, of which they appeared much pleased.
The Mandan chief gave a pair of elegant leggings to the principal man of the Indian party, which is an Indian fashion (to make presents). The canoe and three men having joined us, we took our leave of this party telling them to return to their band and listen to our counsels which we had before given to them. Their band of 80 lodges were on Plum Creek, a few miles to the north. Those nine men had five fusees and 4 bows and quivers of arrows.
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.