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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For September 27:
Captain Clark (current)
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I rose early after a bad night's sleep. Found the chiefs all up, and the bank, as usual, lined with spectators. We gave the two great chiefs a blanket apiece, or rather, they took off, agreeable to their custom, the one they lay on; and each, one peck of corn. After breakfast, Captain Lewis and the chiefs went on shore, as a very large part of their nation was coming in, the disposition of whom I did not know. One of us being sufficient on shore, I wrote a letter to Mr. P. Dorion, and prepared a medal and some certificates, and sent to Captain Lewis. At two o'clock Captain Lewis returned with four chiefs and a Considerable Man, named Warchapa, or On His Guard. When the friends of those people (the Sioux) die, they run arrows through their flesh above and below their elbows, as a testimony of their grief.
After staying about half an hour, I went with them on shore. Those men left the boat with reluctance. I went first to the 2nd chief's lodge, where a crowd came around. After speaking on various subjects, I went to a principal man's lodge, from them to the grand chief's lodge. After a few minutes, he invited me to a lodge within the circle, in which I stayed with all their principal men until the dance began, which was similar to the one of last night, performed by their women with poles in their hands, on which scalps of their enemies were hung. Some with the guns spears, and war implements taken by their husbands, in their hands.
Captain Lewis came on shore, and we continued until we were sleepy and returned to our boat. The 2nd chief and one principal man accompanied us. Those two Indians accompanied me on board in the small pirogue; Captain Lewis, with a guard, still on shore. The man who steered, not being much accustomed to steer, passed the bow of the boat, and the pirogue came broadside against the cable and broke it, which obliged me to order, in a loud voice, all hands up and at their oars. My peremptory order to the men, and the bustle of their getting to their oars, alarmed the chiefs, together with the appearance of the men on shore as the boat turned. The chief hallooed and alarmed the camp or town, informing them that the Mahas were about, attacking them. In about ten minutes the bank was lined with men armed, the 1st chief at their head. About 200 men appeared, and after about half an hour returned, all but about 60 men, who continued on the bank all night. The chiefs continued all night with us. This alarm I, as well as Captain Lewis, considered as the signal of their intentions - which was to stop our proceeding on our journey and, if possible, rob us. We were on our guard all night. The misfortune of the loss of our anchor obliged us to lie under a falling bank much exposed to the accomplishment of their hostile intentions. Peter Cruzat, our bowman, who could speak Maha, informed us in the night that the Maha prisoners informed him we were to be stopped. We showed as little signs of a knowledge of their intentions as possible. All prepared on board for anything which might happen. We kept a strong guard all night. No sleep.
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.