November 12, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

November 12, 1804


a verry Cold night    early this morning the Big White princapal Chief of the lower Village of the Mandans Came Down, he packd about 100 W. of fine meet on his Squar for us, we made Some Small presents 〈on〉 to the Squar, & Child    gave a Small ax which She was much pleased—    3 men Sick with the [blank] [1]    Several, Wind Changeable verry cold evening, freesing all day    Some ice on the edges of the river.

Swans passing to the South, the Hunters we Sent down the river to hunt has not returned

The interpeter Says that the Mandan nation as they old men Say Came out of a 〈Small lake〉 [NB: Subterraneous village & a lake] where they had Gardins, [2] maney years ago they lived in Several Villages on the Missourie low down, the Smallpox destroyed the greater part of the nation and reduced them to one large Village and Some Small ones, all 〈the〉 nations before this maladey was affrd. [NB: afraid] of them    after they were reduced the Sioux and other Indians waged war, and killed a great maney, and they moved up the Missourie, those Indians Still continued to wage war, and they moved Still higher, untill they got in the Countrey of the Panias, whith this ntn. [nation] they lived in friendship maney years, inhabiting the Same neighbourhood untill that people waged war, They moved up near the watersoons & winataree where they now live in peace with those nations, the mandans Specke a language peculial to themselves 〈verry much〉

they can rase about 350 men, the Winatarees [NB: 〈or〉 the 〈600, 700〉 Wittassoons or Maharha 80] about 80 and the Big bellies [NB: or Minitarres ] about 600 or 650 men. the mandans and Seauex [X: 〈Shoe Tribe of Minataras] have the Same word for water— [3]    The Big bellies [NB: or] Winitarees & ravin [NB: & Wattassoons, as also the Crow (or Raven)] Indians Speake nearly the Same language and the presumption is they were origionally the Same nation    The Ravin Indians [4] "have 400 Lodges & about 1200 men, & follow the Buffalow, or hunt for their Subsistance in the plains & on the Court noi & Rock Mountains, & are at war with the Sioux Snake Indians["]

The Big bellies & Watersoons are at war with the Snake Indians & Seauex, and were at war with the Ricares untill we made peace a fiew days passd.—    The Mandans are at War with all who make war on them, at present with the Seauex only, and wish to be at peace with all nations, Seldom the agressors—


Monday 12th Nov    Clear & cold this morning.    a verry hard frost.    froze Some last night.    we continued our buildings as usal.    the chief of the lower village of the Mandens [5] brought us Some buffalow meat which we were in want as our hunters has not arived yet.    we unloaded the pearogue in order to fetch Stone.

1. Probably venereal disease, about which they would be more frank in later entries. The passage has been crossed out in red, apparently by Biddle. (back)
2. Mandan creation accounts are found in Beckwith, 1–17. Clark later gave Biddle more information. See Nicholas Biddle Notes [ca. April 1810], Jackson (LLC), 2:520. (back)
3. The Mandan word for water is miniŋ ; the Hidatsa term is mirí. The similarity of pronunciation would be striking to Lewis and Clark. (back)
4. Generally known as the Crows, from the French traders' term gens de corbeaux, they called themselves Absaroke, variously translated as crow, sparrowhawk, or bird people, or "anything that flies." They separated from the Hidatsas proper and the Awatixa in the eighteenth century, hence the similarity in language; their tongue was of the Siouan family. Although Clark here places them in the Black Hills, by the beginning of the nineteenth century they had been driven west from the hills of South Dakota by their enemies and were centered in the Yellowstone basin, including the valleys of the Powder, Tongue, and Bighorn rivers; Clark places them in the Yellowstone region in his "Estimate of Eastern Indians," prepared at Fort Mandan. Since they visited the Hidatsas regularly, white traders at that tribe's villages had seen them, and the Canadian Ménard (see above, October 25, 1804) claimed to have visited them on the Yellowstone before 1795; however, François-Antoine Larocque's account of his trip to the Yellowstone in 1805 is the earliest first-hand written account of them. Nasatir (BLC), 2:381; Hodge, 1:367–69; Wood (OHI), 4; Wood & Thiessen, 156–220; Lowie (TC); Denig, 137–204; Thwaites (LC), 6:103–4. (back)
5. Big White or Sheheke; see Clark's entry of October 29. (back)