October 26, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

October 26, 1804

Course Distance & 26th of October
N. 45° W 1 m. bend L. S.
N. 70° W 1 m. to a pt S. S.—
S 26° W. 2 m. to a camp of mandans L. S.—
West 1 m L S.—
N. 27° W. 3 miles [WC: Fort Mandan Stands] [1] to S. S.   passed Bluff L
N. 55° W. 1 m. to a pt. on L. S.
S. 60° W. 2 m to the 1st mandan village on the L. S

26th of October 1804    wind from the S. E    we Set the Ricara Chief on Shore with Some Mandans, many on each Side veiwing of us, we took in 2 Chiefs (Coal and Big Man) [2] and halted a feiw minits at their Camps, [3] on the L. S. fortified in their way, here we Saw a trader from the Ossinniboin River Called McCracken, [4] this man arrived 9 day ago with goods to trade for horses & Roabs    one other man with him—    we Camped on the L. Side a Short distanc below the 1st mandan village on the L. S. [5]    many men women & Children flocked down to See us—    Capt Lewis walked to the Village with the Chief and interpeters, my Rheumitism increasing prevented me from going also, and we had Deturmined that both would not leave the boat at the Same time untill we Knew the Desposition of the Nativs, Some Chieef visited me & I Smoked with them—    they appeared delighted with the Steel Mill [6] which we were obliged to use, also with my black Servent, Capt Lewis returned late—


Set out early    wind from the S W    proceeded on    Saw numbers of the Mandins on Shore, we Set the Ricare Chief on Shore, and we proceeded on to the Camp of two of their Grand Chiefs where we delayed a fiew minits, with the Chiefs and proceeded on takeing two of their Chiefs on board & Some of the heavy articles of his house hole, Such as earthen pots & Corn, proceeded on, at this Camp Saw a [NB: Mr] McCracken Englishmon from the N. W [NB: Hudson Bay] Company    this mana Came nine Days ago to trade for horses & Buffalo robes,— one other man Came with him.    the Indians Continued on the banks all day—    but little wood on this part of the river, many Sand bars and bad places, water much devided between them—

for the 26th. Octr. [7] we came too and Camped on the L. S. about ½ a mile below the 1st. Manddin Town on the L. S.    Soon after our arrival many men women & Children flocked down to See us, Capt Lewis walked to the village with the principal Chiefs and our interpters, my rhumatic Complaint increasing I could not go—    if I was well only one would have left the Boat & party untill we new the Disposition of the 〈party〉 Inds. I Smoked with the Cheifs who Came after. Those people apd much pleased with the Corn mill which we were obliged to use, & was fixed in the boat.

26th Ocr.

Course Distance & reffrs.
N. 45° W.   1 me. to a tree in the bend to the Larboard Side
N. 70° W.   1 me. to a pt. on the S. S.
S. 26 W.   2 mes. to a wood in the bend Camp of Mandan L. S.
West   1 mes. to to a tree in bind L. S.    passed a Small Creek
N. 27° W.   3 mes. to the pt. Fort Mandan Stard    Passing a bluff of indft.
Coal L. S.
N. 55° W.   1 me. to a pt. on the L. S.
S. 60° W.   2 me. to the 1st Village of the Mandins Situated on the L. Side
in an open Plain

Friday 26th Oct.    a clear morning.    we Set off eairly.    passed a large willow Bottom    on S. S.    high land on N. S.    we proceeded on    at 10 oClock we halted at a hunting camp of the Mandens, consisting of men women and children.    here we found an Irishman [8] who was here tradeing with them from the N. W. Company of Traders.    we delayd about an hour with them, & proceedd on.    took 2 of the natives on board with their Baggage in order to go to their Village.    the Greater part of that Camp kept along Shore Going up to the villages.    we Camped on the S. S. below the 1st village [9] at an old field where the manden nation had raised corn the last Summer, & Sun flowers &.C. of which they eat with corn. Capt. Lewis walked up to the village this evening.    found the nation verry friendly,—&.C.


Friday 26th.    We set out early and had a clear morning; passed a large Willow bottom on the south and high land on the north side. The Mandan Indian left us early in the morning. At 10, we came to a hunting party of the Mandans, consisting of men, women and children. There was an Irishman with them, who had come from the North West Company of traders. We remained here an hour, and then proceeded. A number of the Indians kept along the shore opposite the boat all day, on the south side, on which side we encamped. Some of them remained with us till 12 at night and then returned to their village.


Friday October 26th    This morning we had clear & pleasant Weather, We set off early, at 10 oClock we came too, where a party of the Mandan Indians were hunting, & they were encamped in a River bottom which was cover'd with heavy Timber, on the South side of the River,—    We found with those Indians an Irishman that belonged to the Northwest Company of Traders.    We stop'ed with those Indians about one hour, and then proceeded on our way 'till Night, and encamped, on the South side of the River, Some of the Mandan Indians who we found a hunting this day came and staid with us this night

1. Obviously Clark interlined the note about Fort Mandan's location later, after the fort was constructed. (back)
2. The Coal, whose name in the Mandan tongue Clark renders as Sho-ta-har ro-ra ( šotaharore, "it's a white cloud"), was apparently an Arikara by birth, and had been adopted by the Mandans. He was a rival of Black Cat, considered by the captains to be head chief of the Mandans. Big Man, Oh-he-nar ( óhiŋr, "to be full"), also called "Le Grand," was according to Clark an adopted Cheyenne prisoner. Such adoption was not uncommon; with males it usually occurred in childhood. Both these men were chiefs of the first Mandan village. Coues (NLEH), 1:332; Thwaites (EWT), 5:128, 132, 6:111, 23:231–32 and n. 189. (back)
3. Atlas Map 29 shows this hunting camp, in Mercer County, North Dakota. MRC map 52. (back)
4. In Codex C, below, Clark writes that Hugh McCracken worked for the North West Company, then corrects it to "Hudsons's Bay." In fact, he appears to have been a free trader working for neither firm. McCracken had been to the Mandans and had resided there several times before he guided David Thompson of the North West Company there in 1797. Lewis and Clark entrusted him with their message to Charles Chaboillez, North West Company factor on the Assiniboine River. In 1806 he accompanied Chaboillez and Alexander Henry the Younger to the Mandan villages. Henry characterizes him as "an old Irishman formerly belonging to the [Royal?] artillery." David Thompson reports him killed by the Sioux on a journey to the Mandans, but the date is certainly wrong. Lewis and Clark to Chaboillez, October 31, 1804, Jackson (LLC), 1:213–14 and n. 1; Tyrrell, 160, 177, 180 and n.; Coues (NLEH), 1:304. (back)
5. The first Mandan village, shown on Atlas map 29, was Matootonha (or Mitutanka), on or near the later site of the now defunct village of Deapolis, Mercer County. See fig. 4. The word is not identifiable, although it apparently includes the Mandan word máŋtu, "mud." Archaeologists have labeled the site Deapolis; it was destroyed by gravel pit operations in the 1950s. Thompson. Because of river shifts the camp may have been in modern McLean County. The Mandans were an agricultural people who have lived on the Missouri River since they were first known to Europeans. Cultural traits and ancient village sites have suggested an origin far to the southeast in the Mississippi valley. Europeans first mentioned them in 1719, but the first account by a visitor comes from Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de La Vérendrye, who encountered them in 1738. They may have been living with the Hidatsas even then, but outsiders did not distinguish the two tribes until later. Lewis and Clark found them in two villages, Matootonha (noted here) and Rooptahee (Ruptáre, Nuptadi). The presence among them of certain unusually light-complexioned and fair-haired persons led to speculations about European origins, a persistent notion being that they were the fabled Welsh Indians, the story that brought John Evans up the Missouri in 1796. All such theories have proved illusory.

In addition to their farming and hunting, the Mandans were important as middlemen in intertribal trade. They were generally peaceful and accommodating in their relations with whites, as with Lewis and Clark, and were less aggressive in their relations with other Indians than their allies the Hidatsas. The presence among them of prominent men of Cheyenne and Arikara birth suggests a relatively low degree of ethnocentrism. They had a rich ceremonial and religious life, of which Lewis and Clark saw only a small part.

The tribe had suffered in the smallpox epidemic of the 1780s; the epidemic of 1837 reduced them to a handful. Thereafter they lived by necessity with the Hidatsas and inter-married with them. At the present time there are believed to be no full-blooded Mandans, though they are counted as one of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara) at Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota. Hodge, 1:796–99; Ronda (LCAI), 67–112; Bowers (MSCO); Tyrrell, 171–80; Meyer; Catlin (NAI), 80–184, 203–7; Williams; Masson , 1:327–93; Abel (CJ); Coues (NLEH), 1:323–403.

6. Lewis had purchased three hand-operated a mills for grinding corn while gathering equipment in Philadelphia in 1803. Supplies from Private Vendors [June 30, 1803], Jackson (LLC), 1:84. (back)
7. The remainder of this Codex C passage of October 26 appears at the end of the October 25 entry, with Clark's interlined note giving the correct date. Asterisks also served to establish the connection. There is considerable space between the end of the October 26 entry, as written, and the courses and distances for that day. Apparently Clark wrote these courses first, leaving space for the narrative, then found that he had not left sufficient space, so utilized space at the end of the October 25 entry. (back)
8. Hugh McCracken, apparently an independent trader. See Clark's entry for this day. (back)
9. The camp was below the Mandan village Mitutanka, also known as the Deapolis site, and due to river shifts the campsite is perhaps in McLean County, North Dakota, on the opposite side of the river from where they located. (back)