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Heading Into Danger?
August 01-31, 1804
At sunset on August 2, a party of Oto and Missouri Indians arrived at the expedition's camp. This first Indian encounter went well, the two sides exchanging greetings and gifts. But the captains realized that things would be different when they met the Sioux. President Jefferson had specifically mentioned the need to make a friendly impression on this powerful tribe.
During this time, Sergeant Charles Floyd became the first U.S. soldier to die west of the Mississippi when he died on August 20, probably of appendicitis. He was the only member of the Corps to die along the journey.
By the final week of August, Lewis and Clark had reached the eastern edge of the Great Plains, a virtual Eden abounding in elk, deer, buffalo, and beaver. They were now heading toward the heart of Sioux territory.
The expedition first encountered the Yankton Sioux, a more peaceable people than their neighbors farther up the Missouri, the Teton Sioux. The Yankton were somewhat disappointed by the gifts they received—a mere five medals—and warned the Americans about the reception they would receive upriver.