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Parting Ways, Skirmishing With Blackfeet
July 03-28, 1806
On July 3 Lewis and his group broke camp, crossing the Continental Divide and descending from the mountains near the Great Falls. The captain ordered his men to portage the supplies around the Falls, while he and three of the men went off to explore the Marias River.
Lewis and his colleagues knew the Marias was Blackfeet Indian territory—and therefore dangerous. On July 26 eight Blackfeet spotted them. The Blackfeet seemed friendly, and the two groups decided to camp together.
Taking no chances, Lewis's men took turns to stand guard through the night. In the morning one of the Indians snatched a pair of rifles, and in the struggle that followed two Indians died. Lewis and his men rode off, covering 120 miles (190 kilometers) in 24 hours, not knowing whether Blackfeet were giving chase.
Meanwhile, Clark and his group crossed the divide on July 8 and descended into the territory of the Crow tribe, the great horse thieves of the Plains. On July 21 the party awoke to find half of their horses gone. Yet they never saw a Crow.