August 11, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

August 11, 1804


August 11th Satturday 1804    about day this morning a hard wind from the N. W. followed by rain, we landed at the foot of the hill on which Black Bird [1] The late King of the mahar who Died 4 years ago & 400 of his nation with the Small pox was buried (1) and went up and fixed a white flag bound with Blue white & read [2] on the Grave which was about 12 foot Base & circueller, on the top of a Penical about 300 foot above the water of the river, from the top of this hill may be Seen the bends or meanderings of the river for 60 or 70 miles round & all the County around the base of this high land is a Soft Sand Stone [3]    Bluff of about 40 or 150 foot, the Crooked, passed a Creek Called Wau-Con di peche C or Bad God Creek of bad Spirits on the L. S [4]    above the Bluff on this Creek the Mahars had the Small pox 〈& 400 of them Died〉 4 years ago, Lattitude 42° 1' 3" 8/10 taken on the Point above the Creek.    the river is verry Crooked, we are now within ¾ of a mile of the river at a place we Shall not get around to untill tomorrow noon—    We er [are] 3 Legues from the Mahars by land the great deel of Beaver sign induce a belief that those people do not hunt much.

Course & Dis. Augt 11th
S. 52° W.      ½ me. on the Sand point S. S. of the Sand Island    Wind N. W
N. 25 W.   2 ms. to a pt. of low willows from a L. pt. passing over a
Sand bar from the Sd. pt.    psd. the Isd.
N 72 W.   2 ¼ ms. to a pt. on the S. S.    Willows opposit the high pt of
land which the Maha King was bured Cap Louis and my
Self went up, & fixed a whit Flag on the grave    a wind &
rain Strike in from S
N. 24 W.      ½ Me. on the Side of the willows S. S.    a Sand bar    passed a
Creek on the (1) L. S. called Wau con di Peeche Great Spirrit
is bad
S. 81 E   2 ¾ ms. to the begining of a pt. of willows on the L. S.    at the
comencement of this Course is a Small channel passing
about half way thro a Prarie from a bend to the L. S.
within ¾ a mile and [blank] miles round the point    The
bore S. 12° E.
N. 84° E.   6 ms. to the high wood above, a Prarie in the bend on S. S
the river wide & Shallow.    the wood is opsd. a pt
N. 22° E   1 ¼ ms. to a pt. of willows on the L. S.
North.   1 ¾ ms. to a Cotton tree in a bind to the S. S. haveing passd. a
Sand pt. from the L. Side & camped on the L. S. [5]    Cap
Killed a Duck.
N 45 W   1 ½ me. to a Sand Pt. on the L. Side.    a number of Blue crains
flying over
  17 ½  

I have observed a number of places where the river has Changd its Bead at different times

Time & Dist. the Moon & Sun
H   m   s        
1 13 45     73°   6' 45"
" 16 48   73   6   0
" 18 39   73   6   0
" 20 55   73   7 45
" 22 25   73   8 30
" 24 24   73   9 30
" 25 45   73   9 30
" 27 43   73 10 45
" 29 33   73 11 30
" 31 30   73 12   0

about day light this Morning a hard wind from the N W. with Some rain    proceeded on arround the right of the Isld.

S. 52° W.   ½ a mile on the Sand pt.
N. 25 W. 2 Ms. to a pt. of low willows from the L. S.    passd. the Isd.
& a Sand bar makeing from the S. point
N. 72 W. 2 ¼ ms. to a pt. on the S. S.

a hard wind accompanied with rain from the S. E.    after the rain was over Capt. Lewis myself & 10 men [6] assended the Hill on the L. S. under which there was Some fine Springs to the top of a high point where the Mahars King Black Bird was burried 4 years ago.    a mound of earth about 12 Diamuter at the base & 6 feet high is raised over him turfed, and a pole 8 feet high in the Center    on this pole we fixed a white flage bound with red Blue & white; this hill about 300 feet above the water forming a 〈Clift〉 Bluff between that & the Water of Various hight from 40 to 150 feet in hight yellow Soft Sand Stone    [WC: Died of Smallpox] [7]    〈we return〉 from the tops of this Nole the river may be Seen Meandering for 60 or 70 Miles, we Decended & Set out N. 24 to W. ½ me. passing over a Sand bar on the S. pt. along the Willows.    to the river opposit a Small Beyeau on the L. S. which is the Conveyance of the high water from a bend which appears near in a northerly direction, haveing passed a Creek in a Deep bend to the L. S. Called by the Mahars Wau can di Peeche (Great Spirrit is bad) on this Creek & Hills near it about 400 of the Mahar Died with the Small Pox—    Took Medn. Altitude & made the Latd.    42° 1' 3" 8/10 N.    also the Moons Distanc from the Sun

  Time     Distance
  H    m    s   d.      m.     S
P M 1    13    45   73      6    45
  "    16    48   73      6      0
  "    18    39     "      6      0
  "    20    55     "      7    45
  "    22    25     "      8    30
  "    24    24     "      9    30
  "    25    45     "      9    30
  "    27    45     "    10    45
  "    29    33     "    11    30
  "    31    30     "    12    00
S 81° E   2 ¾ Miles to the beginning of willows on the L. Side
N. 84° E.   6 miles to a high wood above a Prarie on the S. S. opposit a
Sand point
N. 22° E.   1 ¼ to a pt. of willows on the L. S.
North   1 ¾ to a Cotton tree in a bend to the Starboard Side    passed a
Sand bar on the L. S. & Camped    the Musqutors Verry
troublesom    Great nos of Herrons this evening [8]
miles 17  

I have observed a number of places where the River has onced run and now filled or filling up & growing with willows & cottonwood


On the starboard shore one mile above the mouth of the Creek of Evil Sperits.

Observed Meridian Altd. of ☉'s L. L. with Octant by the back observatn.    58° 31' —"

Latitude deduced from this observtn.    42° 1' 3.8"

Observed time and distance of ☉'s and ☽'s nearest limbs; the West.— with Sextant.

  h m s          
P.M. 1 13 45   73°   6' 45"
  " 16 48   "   6
  " 18 39   "   7 15
  " 20 55   "   7 45
  " 22 25   "   8 30
  " 24 24   "   9 30
  " 25 45   " 10 45
  " 27 43   " 11 30
  " 31 30   " 12

Saturday 11th    hard Showers this morning    comenced at day break & lasted & detained us about an hour, hard wind from S. W. Succeeded it    we passed a Round knob on a high Ridge 300 feet high—    near the River S. S. Where we See a Grave where an Indian chief was buried 4 years ago called the Black bird of the Mahar Nation. [10]    this Black bird was a great king among his people.    they carry him provision at certain times &.C. Capt. Lewis & Clark went up to the grave & carried a white flag & put up on the pole which Stood over the grave, which was a round heap, (9 miles by land from below Nation)    we proceeded on    the wind hard    Some Thunder, the river verrey crooked, after we passed this hill we passed a bend of cottonwood Timber on N. S.    we came abot. 18 Miles & camped on the N. S. in a bend of the River,


Satturday august 11th 1804    Set out after a verry hard Storm this morning of wind and Rain continued untill 9 oclock A m. and Cleard up    prosed on    passed a high Bluff [11] whare the Kinge of the Mahas Died about 4 yeares ago [12]    the Hill on which he is berred is about 300 feet High    the nathion Goes 2 or 3 times a year to Cryes over him    Capt Lewis and Clark went up on the Hill to See 〈him〉 the Grave    thay histed a flage on his Grave as 〈present〉 noner [honor] for him which will pleas the Indianes, passed the mouth of a Creek on the South Side Called Waie Con Di Peeche or the Grait Sperit is Bad [13] whare this Chief 〈Didd〉 died and about 300 Hundred of his men with the Small pox    this Chiefs name was the Black Bird [14]    made 15 miles    Camped on the North Side


Saturday 11th.    A storm came on at three o'clock this morning and continued till nine, notwithstanding which, we kept under way till ten, when we came to a high bluff, [15] where an Indian chief had been buried, and placed a flag upon a pole, which had been set up at his grave. His name was Blackbird, king of the Mahas; an absolute monarch while living, and the Indians suppose can exercise the power of one though dead. We encamped in latitude 42d 1m 3s 3, as ascertained by observation.


Sateday Augt 11    Rain Came On at the hour of 3 Oclock A. M.    a heavy wind blew after—    the Crafts got under way at 6 Oclock favourd. With a South Wind, Passd. a bluff whare the Black bird the late King of the Mahars was buried 4 years ago    the Officers took a flagg with them and assended the hill which was 300 feet higher than the water    left the white flagg on a pole Stuck on his Grave.    Road 18 Miles on the E. S.

Saturday August 11th    At 3 o'Clock this morning we had a rain, which was very heavy, which was immediately succeeded with a smart breeze from the South.    at 6 oClock we set sail, and passed a bluff where the Black bird, the late king of the Mahaws was buried about 4 Years before, the officers landed a small distance above the bluff, and took with them a White Flag, and ascended the Hill which was 300 feet higher than the surface of the water, and placed the flag which they had fix'd on a long pole stuck in the grave.    At 10 oClock A. M the officers embarked again    We proceeded on & in the Evening encamped on the North [16] side of the River.    The distance we sail'd this day being 18 Miles—

1. Blackbird (Wazhin' gaçabe) was a notorious character along the Missouri, noted for his friendship with white traders and his strong rule over his own people. Under his leadership the Omahas rose to prominence on the eastern plains. Reports of his war deeds are mixed, but he seems to have had great authority because of his sorcery, especially in the deaths of the enemies who were likely killed by his use of poisons obtained from traders. Legend has it that he was buried seated on the back of his horse, on the hilltop where he used to watch for the coming of his friends the traders. Nasatir (BLC), 1:282–94; Appleman (LC), 334–35; Thwaites (EWT), 14:317–20, 22:277; Fletcher & La Flesche, 1:82–83, 173; Atlas map 15; MRC map 26; MRR map 72. (back)
2. Clark used an asterisk as a reference to the remainder of the daily narrative, which followed the courses and distances and astronomical observations. The material is brought together for ease of reading. (back)
3. The Dakota sandstone, basal Cretaceous, is exposed along streams and the Missouri River bluffs. (back)
4. Blackbird Creek in Thurston County, Nebraska, southeast of present Macy. The Omaha name may be wakon'dagi pezhi te; Robert L. Rankin (personal communication) gives it as wakką́da ppéži or "bad spirit." Fletcher & La Flesche, 1:91; Atlas map 15; MRC map 26; MRR map 73. (back)
5. The extreme bend of the Missouri River, at whose eastern extremity they camped, has long since been cut off. Indeed, pencil marks on Atlas map 15, probably by Prince Maximilian, indicate that it was already cut off when he passed that way in 1833. The campsite, therefore, is some miles east of the present course of the river, in Monona County, Iowa, in the vicinity of present Badger Lake, apparently the river's old course. MRC map 26; MRR map 73. (back)
6. None of the enlisted journal-keepers indicate clearly that they were with this party, although Gass says that "we" raised the flag on the hill. (back)
7. These words were squeezed in at the bottom of the page in Codex A. (back)
8. Clark changes the designations from "crains" to "Herrons" between entries. It is the great blue heron, first mentioned in weather remarks for February 13, 1804. Swenk, 120. This is probably the correct course for the day. Clark's last entry in the Field Notes for August 11 probably belongs with his August 12 entry (as carried there) and the total should be 17. (back)
9. Lewis's observation from Codex O. (back)
10. Blackbird, chief of the Omahas, was buried on Blackbird Hill, Thurston County, Nebraska. (back)
11. These words are underscored in red ink. (back)
12. These words are underscored in red ink. (back)
13. Blackbird Creek, Thurston County, southeast of Macy. Floyd repeats "the Grait Sperit is Bad" in the left-hand margin. (back)
14. These words are underscored in red ink. (back)
15. Blackbird Hill, Thurston County, Nebraska, near Macy. Gass says more about the Omaha Indian Chief Blackbird himself than Clark, showing that the Blackbird legend was already well developed a few years after the chief's death. (back)
16. Again written over "South." (back)