December 15, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

December 15, 1804


a Cold Clear morning, Saw no buffalow, I concluded to return to the Fort & hunt on each Side of the river on our return which we did without Success—    the Snow fell 1½ inches deep last night.    wind North—    on my return to the fort found Several Chiefs there


Saturday 15th Decr. 1804. Cloudy cold and Snowey. I & 2 more of the party went up to the 1st & 2 villages of the Mandans.    traded for a little corn &.C.    they had all their corn in holes made in the Ground close in front of their lodges.    although the day was cold & Stormy we Saw Several of the chiefs and warries were out at a play which they call [blank] [1]    they had flattish rings made out of clay Stone & two men had Sticks abt. 4 feet long with 2 Short peaces across the fore end of it, and neathing on the other end, in Such a manner that they would Slide Some distance    they had a place fixed across their green from the head chiefs house across abt. 50 yds. to the 2 chiefs lodge, which was Smothe as a house flour    they had a Battery fixed for the rings to Stop against.    two men would run at a time with 〈stick〉 Each a Stick & one carried a ring.    they run abt. half way and then Slide their Sticks after the ring.    they had marks made for the Game but I do not understand how they count the game.    they gave us different kinds of victules & made us eat in everry lodge that we went in.    they were verry friendly    we returned to the fort. Capt. Clark had returned with the hunters.    had not killed any Buffaloe for they are all back in the praries.


Saturday 15th.    A cloudy day. Some of the natives paid us a visit, and brought presents of meat to the commanding officers. About one o'clock Captain Clarke and his party returned, but had killed nothing more. The buffaloe were gone from the river. Some slight showers of snow fell during the day.

1. The Mandan hoop and pole game, not mentioned by Lewis or Clark. Stewart Culin, Games of the North American Indians (1907. Reprint. 2 vols. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), 2:511–13. Biddle places a paraphrase of this material under December 19. See Jackson, ed., Letters, 2:553. (back)