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Lewis and Clark
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image: Basin of Lewis's River

Journal excerpts and maps from Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites


"This morning we came to a resolution to remain at our present encampment... until we had obtained as much dryed meat as would be necessary for our yoyage as far as the Chopunnish. to exchange our perogues for canoes with the natives on our way to the great falls of the columbia or purchase such canoes from them.... these canoes we intend exchanging with the natives of the plains for horses... untill we obtain as many as will enable us to travel altogether by land. at some convenient point... we purpose sending a party of four or five men a head to collect our horses that they may be in readiness for us by our arrival at the Chopunnish; calculating by thus acquiring a large stock of horses we shall not only secure the means of transporting our baggage over the mountains but that we will also have provided the means of subsisting; for we now view the horses as our only certain resource for food, nor do we look forward to it with any detestation or horrow, so soon is the mind which is occupyed with any interesting object, reconciled to it’s situation."


"this portage is two thousand eight hundred yards [2,560 meters] along a narrow rough and slipery road. the duty of getting the canoes above the rapid was by mutual consent confided to my friend Capt. C who took with him for that purpose all the party except Bratton who is yet so weak he is unable to work.... a few men were absolutely necessary at any rate to guard our baggage from the War-clel-lars who crouded about our camp in considerable numbers. these are the greates thieves and scoundrels we have met with. by the evening Capt. C. took 4 of our canoes above the rapids tho’ with much difficulty and labour. the canoes were much damaged by being driven against the rocks in dispite of every precaution.... the men complained of being so much fatiegued in the evening that we posponed taking up our 5th canoe untill tomorrow. these rapids are much worse than they were [in the] fall when we passed them.... the water appears to be (considerably) upwards of 20 feet [6 meters] higher than when we decended the river."


"About 8 A.M. Capt. Clark passed the river with the two interpreters, the indian woman and nine men in order to trade with the natives for their horses, for which purpose he took with him a good part of our stock of merchandize.... twelve horses will be sufficient to transport our baggage and some pounded fish which we intend taking with us as a reserved store for the rocky mountains. I was visited today by several of the natives, and amused myself in making a collection of the esculent plants in the neighbourhood such as the Indians use, a specemine of which I preserved."


"This morning I was informed that the natives had pilfered six tommahawks and a knife from the party in the course of the last night. I spoke to the cheif on this subject. he appeared angry with his people and addressed them but the property was not restored. one horse which I purchased and paid for yesterday and which could not be found when I ordered the horses into close confinement yesterday I was now informed had been gambled away by the rascal who had sold it to me and had been taken away by a man of another nation. I therefore took the goods back from this fellow.... in the course of the day I obtained two other indifferent horses for which I gave an extravigant price.... These people have yet a large quantity of dryed fish on hand yet they will not let us have any but for an exorbitant price.... I ordered the indians from our camp this evening and informed them that if I caught them attempting to perloin any article from us I would beat them severely. they went off in reather a bad humour and I directed the party to examine their arms and be on their guard."


"… determined to remain no longer with these villains. they stole another tomahawk from us this morning I surched many of them but could not find it. I ordered all the spare poles, paddles and the ballance of our canoe put on the fire as the morning was cold and also that not a particle should be left for the benefit of the indians. I detected a fellow in stealing an iron socket of a canoe pole and gave him several severe blows and mad[e] the men kick him out of camp. I now informed the indians that I would shoot the first of them that attempted to steal an article from us, that we were not affraid to fight them, that I had it in my power at that moment to kill them all and set fire to their houses, but it was not my wish to treat them with severity provided they would let my property alone. that I would take their horses if I could find out the persons who had stolen the tommahawks, but that I had reather loose the property altogether than take the ho[r]se of an inosent person. the chiefs [who] were present hung their heads and said nothing. at 9 A.M. Windsor returned with the lost horse."

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