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Entries For April 14:
Captain Lewis (current)
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One of the hunters saw an otter last evening and shot at it, but missed it. A dog came to us this morning, which we supposed to have been lost by the Indians who were recently encamped near the lake that we passed yesterday. The mineral appearances of salts, coal, and sulphur, together with burned hills and pumice stone, still continue. While we remained at the entrance of the Little Missouri, we saw several pieces of pumice stone floating down that stream, a considerable quantity of which had lodged against a point of driftwood a little above its entrance.
Captain Clark walked on shore this morning, and on his return informed me that he had passed through the timbered bottoms on the N. side of the river, and had extended his walk several miles back on the hills. In the bottom lands he had met with several uninhabited Indian lodges built with the boughs of the elm, and in the plains he met with the remains of two large encampments of a recent date, which from the appearance of some hoops of small kegs seen near them, we concluded that they must have been the camps of the Assiniboines, as no other nation who visit this part of the Missouri ever indulge themselves with spirituous liquor. Of this article the Assiniboines are passionately fond, and we are informed that it forms their principal inducement to furnish the British establishments on the Assiniboine River with the dried and pounded meat and grease which they do.
The mineral appearances still continue. Considerable quantities of bituminous water, about the color of strong lye, trickle down the sides of the hills. This water partakes of the taste of Glauber salts and slightly of alum. While the party halted to take dinner today, Captain Clark killed a buffalo bull. It was meager, and we therefore took the marrowbones and a small proportion of the meat only.
Near the place we dined, on the larboard side, there was a large village of burrowing squirrels. I have remarked that these animals generally select a southeasterly exposure for their residence, though they are sometimes found in the level plains. Passed an island above which two small creeks fall in on the larboard side; the upper creek largest, which we called Charbonneau's Creek, after our interpreter, who encamped several weeks on it with a hunting party of Indians. This was the highest point to which any white man had ever ascended, except two Frenchmen - one of whom, Lepage, was now with us - who, having lost their way, had straggled a few miles farther, though to what place precisely I could not learn. I walked on shore above this creek and killed an elk, which was so poor that it was unfit for use. I therefore left it, and joined the party at their encampment on the starboard shore a little after dark. On my arrival, Captain Clark informed me that he had seen two white bear pass over the hills shortly after I fired, and that they appeared to run nearly from the place where I shot.
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.