September 27, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

September 27, 1804


27th of Septr. 1804—    The Bank as usial lined with Sioux, gave the 2 principal Chiefs a blanket & a peck of Corn each, Capt Lewis accompanied the Chiefs to their Lodges, they informed us that a great part of their nation had not arrived, & would arrive to night and requested us to Delay one Day longer, that they might See us

I rote a letter to Mr. Durion, & prepared Some Commissions & a meadel & Sent to Captain Lewis—    at 2 oClock Capt Lewis retuned with 4 chiefs & a Brave man named War-cha pa [1]    (when a[ny] of thos people Die they pierce ther flesh with arrows above & below ther elbows as a testimony of ther grief)    after a delay of half an hour I went with them on Shore, they left the boat with reluctiance    (we Suspect they are treacherous and are at all times guarded & on our guard)    They again offered me a young woman and wish me to take her & not Dispise them, I wavered [waived?] the Subject, at Dark the Dance began as usial and performed as last night.    womin with ther Husbands & relations cloths arms Scalps on poles &c. &c.    Capt Lewis joined me & we continued untill about 11 oClock and 2 Chief accompaned us to the boat    I with 2 Cheifs was in a Perogue going on board, by bad Stearing the parogu Struk the Cable with Such force as to brake it near the anchor    (Cap Lewis) and 3 or 4 men on Shore, I had all hands up and was Compelled to Land—    the Chief got allarmed & allarmed the Indians 〈who〉    the 1s Chief & about 200 men Came down in great hast armd and for action, and found it was false, about 20 of them Camped on Shore all night—    this allarm Cap Lewis & well as my Self viewed as the Signal of their intentions, one half on guard, our misfortune of loseing our anchor obliged us to lay under a falling in bank much exposed to the Accomplishment of the hostile intentions of those Tetons (who we had every reason to believe from ther Conduct intended to make an attempt to Stop our progress & if possible rob us—[)]    Peter Crusat who Spoke Mahar came in the night and informed me that the mahar Prisoners told him that the Tetons intended to Stop us—    We Shew'd but little Sign of a knowledge of there intentions.


I rose early aftr a bad nights Sleep    found the Chief all up, and the bank as usial lined with Spectators    we gave the 2 great Cheifs a Blanket a peace, or rethr they took off agreeable to their Custom the one they lay on and each one Peck of Corn    after Brackfast Capt. Lewis & the Chiefs went on Shore, as a verry large part of their nation was Comeing in, the Disposition of whome I did not know one of us being Suffcent on Shore, I wrote a letter to Mr. P. Durion & prepared a meadel & Some Comsns. [NB: Certificates] & Sent to Cap Lewis    at 2 oClock Capt. Lewis returned with 4 Chiefs & a Brave man [NB: Conside man] named War cha pa or on his Guard .    when the friends of those people [NB: (the Scioux)] die they run arrows through their flesh above and below their elbous as a testimony of their Greaf

after Staying about half an hour, I went with them on Shore, Those men left the boat with reluctience, I went first to the 2d Chiefs Lodge, where a Croud Came around    after Speeking on various Subjects I went to a princpal mans lodge from there to the grand Chiefs lodge, after a fiew minits he invited me to a Lodge within the Circle in which I Stayed with all their principal men untill the Dance began, which was Similer to the one of last night performed by their womn which poles [NB: in their hands] on which Scalps of their enemies were hung, Some with the Guns Spears & war empliments 〈of〉 [NB: taken by] their husbands [NB: &c] in their hands

Capt. Lewis came on Shore and we Continued untill we were Sleepy & returned to our boat, the 2nd Chief & one principal man accompanid us, those two Indians accompanied me on board in the Small Perogue, Capt. Lewis with a guard Still on Shore, the man who Steered not being much acustomed to Steer, passed the bow of the boat & peroge Came broad Side against the Cable & broke it 〈our Cable broke I ordered〉 which obliged me to order in a loud voice all hands 〈up〉 all hands up & at their ores, my preempty [2] order to the men and the bustle of their getting to their ores allarmd the Cheifs, togethr with the appearance of the men on Shore, as the boat turnd. The Cheif hollowered & allarmed the Camp or Town informing them that the Mahars was about attacting us. [NB: them] in about 10 minits the bank was lined with men armed the 1st Cheif at their head, about 200 men appeared and after about ½ hour returned all but about 60 men who Continued on the bank all night, the Cheifs Contd. all night with us—    This allarm I as well as Captn. Lewis Considered as the Signal of their intentions (which was to Stop our proceeding on our journey and if Possible rob us)    we were on our Guard all night, the misfortune of the loss of our Anchor obliged us to Lay under a falling bank much exposd. to the accomplishment of their hostile intentions    P. C [Cruzatte]—our Bowman who Cd. Speek Mahar informed us in the night that the Maha Prisoners informed him we were to be Stoped—    we Shew as little Sighns of a Knowledge of their intentions as possible all prepared on board for any thing which might hapen, we kept a Strong guard all night in the boat    no Sleep


Thursday 27th Sept. 1804.    a clear and pleasant morning.    the most of the party went to the village in the course of the day 5 or 6 at a time, as the chiefs desired us to Stay this day as they Sayd that another lodge would came to day (600 men) (& 7 chiefs)    the chiefs and chiefs Sons came on board Several times in the course of the day and dined with the officers &.C.    Sergt. Gass informed me as he was at the village to day that he counted 80 Lodges (of the Teton Tribe) which contain ten persons each, which were built round with poles about 15 or 20 feet high & covered with dressed Buffalo hides painted    Some of them red &.C.    they draw them from one place to another with their dogs.    they tackled one to day which carried about 80 weight with ease—    about 2 thirds are women and children.    the women are employed in dressing Buffaloe Skins for cloathes and lodges &.C.    they appear to be verry friendly. But will Steel & pilfer if they have an oppertunity—    the vessells they carry their worter in are Deers ponches & other kinds. Some wooden Bows which they make.—    the chiefs promised our Captains that they would Send the prisoners back to their nation again.—    towards evening they made prepparations for another dance this evening, at dark the officers and 7 or 8 of the party went over to the dance and See them dance and carry on nearly as the evening before    only the men danced and made Speaches after the women had danced a while &.C.—    the dance lasted till about 12 oClock at night, at which time the Captains returned to the boat    brought with them 2 Chiefs.    the men all returned also.    an accident happened as they came on board by the neglect of the men at the helm of the pearogue, who Steared hir above the big boat. She Swung round with the current and She came full force down against the Bow of the Barge Broke the cable of hir.    we found we were all on float.    roused all hands and got Safe to Shore on S. S.    the Indians hearing us, and expected that the Mahars Indians had come to attack us.    they all ran to our assistance on the bank of the river & fired Several guns for an alarm only.    we informed them the cause &.C. Some of them remained with us the remainder part of the night.    we examined the pearogue that met with the Stroke    found that She had Sprang a leak at one place.    we corked it and bailed the pearogue.    found her not verry much damaged, but if the cable of the Boat had not Gave way the pearogue must have broke in too or turned over. I being on duty Set up the remainder part of the night, and had all the party on their Guard's—


Thursday 27th. We remained here all day. Capt. Lewis, myself and some of the men went over to the Indian camp. Their lodges are about eighty in number, and contain about ten persons each; the greater part women and children. The women were employed in dressing buffaloe skins, for clothing for themselves and for covering their lodges. They are the most friendly people I ever saw; but will pilfer if they have an opportunity. They are also very dirty: the water they make use of, is carried in the paunches of the animals they kill, just as they are emptied, without being cleaned. They gave us dishes of victuals of various kinds; I had never seen any thing like some of these dishes, nor could I tell of what ingredients, or how they were made. [3]

About 15 days ago, they had a battle with the Mahas, of whom they killed 75 men and took 25 women prisoners, whom they have now with them. They promised to Capt. Lewis that they would send the prisoners back and make peace.

About 3 o'clock we went aboard the boat accompanied with the old chief and his little son. [4] In the evening Captain Clarke and some of the men went over, and the Indians made preparations for a dance. At dark it commenced. Captain Lewis, myself and some of our party went up to see them perform. Their band of musick, or orchestra, was composed of about twelve persons beating on a buffaloe hide, and shaking small bags that made a rattling noise. They had a large fire in the centre of their camp; on one side the women, about 80 in number, formed in a solid column round the fire, with sticks in their hands, and the scalps of the Mahas they had killed, tied on them. They kept moving, or jumping round the fire, rising and falling on both feet at once; keeping a continual noise, singing and yelling. In this manner they continued till 1 o'clock at night, when we returned to the boat with two of the chiefs. On coming aboard, the periogue run across the bow of the boat and broke the cable. All hands were roused to tow the boat ashore; the chiefs called aloud, and a number of the warriors came to our assistance, but we did not need it: the circumstance, however, shewed their disposition to be of service. [5] This unfortunate accident lost to us our anchor.


Thursday 27th Sept. 1804.    we Stayed here this day.    Capt Lewis and Some of the party went over to See the Indians Camps.    their lodges are about 80 in nomber and contain about 10 Souls Each, the most of them women and children.    the women are employed dressing buffaloe hides for to make themselves cloathing and to make their lodges &c.    they are or appear as yet to be the most freendly people I ever Saw but they will Steal and plunder if they can git an oppertunity.    they are verry dirty    the vessels they carry their water in is the pouch of their game which they kill and in the Same manner that they take them out of the animel.    they gave us different kinds of victules to eat.    Some of it I never Saw the like before.    about 15 days ago they had a battle with the Mahars.    they killed 65 men and took 25 women prisoners.    they took the 65 of the Mahars Sculps and had them hung on Small poles, which ther women held in their hands when they danced.    we Saw them have one dance this evening.    they kept it up untill one oclock dancing round a fire about 80 of them in nomber.    they had drums and whistles for musick.    they danced war dances round the fire which was curious to us.    when we came on board an axedant happened by running the perogue across the bow of the boat and broke our cable and lost our anker all hands was raised and roed the barge to Shore.    the Savages ran down to know what was the matter.    we told them    they Said that they came to our assistance    we thanked them for Showing their good will but kept on our guard all night for fear they would turn our enimies themselves.—

Thursday Septemr 27th    We remain'd at same place at Anchor this day, Captain Lewis & some of our party went ashore to see the Indian Encampment; and carried the two Indian Chiefs with him.—    Their encampment consisted of Eighty lodges, in number; and contained ten Souls in each, the most part of them Women and Children, The women were employed dressing Buffalo hides, to make themselves Cloathing, and to make their lodges, they appear'd to be the most friendly people I had ever seen as Savages, but they will steal and plunder if they can get an opportunity to do so; They are very dirty in regard to the Vessells that they carry their Water in.—    This being the Paunch of the Animals they kill, and Water is put into it, in the same condition, as it is taken from the Animal.—    They gave us Victuals to eat, which was different from what we had ever before seen or tasted, as I was one of the party that came ashore with Captain Lewis, I had an opportunity of seeing what I have here mention'd in regard to these Indians—    They inform'd Captain Lewis (by the frenchman our Interpreter) that fifteen days before this time, that they had a battle with the Mahaw Indians, and that they had killed Sixty five of their Men and had taken Twenty five of their Women Prisoners, who was then here    they took the Scalps off those 65 Mahaws, 〈which they had there with them〉 and had them hung on small Poles, which the Women held in their hand, when they danced the evening before, This Evening they commenced dancing again, which they continued to do till one oClock in the morning, there was about 80 of them, & they danced round a fire, and had a drum made out of a hollow piece of wood with a Skin stretch'd over it & some whistles of their own making for music.—    They danced their Warr dance, which was a curiosity to us—    We put off from the Shore, to go on board the boat; when the Pettyauger running across the Bow of the boat, broke the Cable of the boat, & we lost her Anchor.—    This caused all the hands to be roused, and the Oars to be manned immediately, which being done, the Boat was rowed towards the Shore, The Indians observing the Boat coming to the shore, where they was; got alarmed.    numbers of them came to the bank of the River, and enquired, what was the matter;    They were told by our Interpreter the cause; at which they seem'd satisfied, and said, that they came to assist us.    The Interpreter thanked them for showing their good will.—

Our officers fearing the treachery of these Indians, kept up a strong guard this night, not wishing to lay it in the power of these Indians to do us any injury, as the boat lay under the bank of the River & fasten'd to a Stake with the remainder of the Cable.—

1. War-cha pa's (wac'ap'e, "stabber") commission is now in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California; it seems to be the only extant specimen of a commission actually filled out and signed by Lewis and Clark. It bears the date August 31, 1804, suggesting that they first intended to issue it during their council with the Sioux at Calumet Bluff (see above), but had at least one left over from that occasion. Bakeless (LCPD), opposite p. 83; Osgood (FN), 150 n. 8. (back)
2. Spelling unclear, but presumably Clark means "peremptory." (back)
3. Clark's entry of September 26 mentions pemmican, dog, and "ground potatoe" (perhaps Indian potato, ground nut, Apios americana Medic.). (back)
4. Not identified, but the captains regarded Black Buffalo as the ranking chief. On September 30, Gass calls Buffalo Medicine "our old chief." (back)
5. The captains thought the incident demonstrated that the Sioux intended to rob them, but apparently they did not relay this suspicion to the enlisted men. (back)