Winter 1804-1805
51.95% Complete
Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

Part 5: Missouri River Miscellany

Winter 1804-1805

The following are a collection of miscellaneous documents by Clark that do not fit into other sections. These documents were all apparently made at Fort Mandan, although the second (Clark's "A Slight View of the Missouri River") may have been a postexpeditionary piece intended for Nicholas Biddle and copied from a lost original. One other possible document for inclusion is not included here because of its duplication of existing material. Apparently at Fort Mandan Clark made a list of his courses and distances up the Missouri River in 1804 drawn from his daily log of journal entries. A check of this document against Clark's journals shows no significant differences and only occasional errors in copying. The document ("The courses and Computed Distance's of each day assending the Missouri River ; commencing at the mouth") is in the Voorhis Collection of the Missouri Historical Society.


The Number of Officers & Men for to protect the Indian trade and Keep the Savages in peace with the U. S. and each other    1805    if Soldiers act as Boatmen & Soldiers

Agents Colonel Majors Captains Loutents. Ensigns Serjons Mates Interpeters Sergeants Corporals Musick Privats Total Distance from
each oth[er]
Names of elegable
Situations of Establishments
At St Louis 1 1 1 1 1 1   1   1   3   1   4 60 68  
at the Osarge, or Akansaw       1   1   1   1   1   1   1 45 48  
" the mouth of Kanzes         1     1   1   1   2   1 25 28 366
" the Council Bluff         1     1   2   2   2   2 30 36 316
"    "    Chien or Shar ha R       1 1 1   1   3   4   4   4 75 88 640
"    "    Rochejone river 1     1   1   1   4   3   3   3 45 54 500
"    "    Falls of Missourie         1     1   2   2   1   1 30 38 700
"    "    Head of Kanzes or









on the Mississippi Prarie de










St Peters or Falls of St






do — do Sand Lake       1 1 1   1   1   2   4   2 40 48  
on the St Peters River       1 1 1   1   1   4   4   4 75 82  
  3 1 1 8 9 8 12 22 32 32 32 600 700  
A Slight View of the Missouri River.

This River is a turbilant & muddey Stream Containing great number of Islands below the River Platte which falls in on its S. side    6 miles up above the Platte but fiew Islands, more Sand bars and the 〈Stream〉 Current less rapid—    The rapidity of the Missouri may be Setimated from the mouth to the OsagesKansas to〉 from 6 miles pr. Hour to the Kansas 6½ to 7 miles from thence to the Platte 5½ to 6 miles pr. Hour, & from thence to the Rochejone about [blank] miles and I am told from thence to the falls less Rapid, The bottoms is very extensive perticularly on the N. Side as high as Floyds River & Bluff 880 miles up, there they become narrow from 3 to 5 miles wide as high as River Jacque 974 miles up    abov as high as this place the high open Countrey approach the River—    The fish Common in the Missouri is perincipally Cat.    Some white, its tributary Streams abound in a variety of fish, its bank Contain a variety of mineral

The Climate, Winds, & Diseases

The Climate thro which the Missouri passes is Certainly pleasing & desireable between the Latituds of 38° & 48° North—    The winter wind are Changeable, the Summer Spring & fall wind are for maney days Stationary at the Same point    a S. E. wind is Common in Summer

The Diseases Commons to our party was Tumers in Summer & Plouresis in Winter, Some few Rhumatics, and on one part of this River above the Mahars the party much incomoded frequently with a Lax, (owing to the minerals) &c

The Face of the Countrey, 〈water〉 Soil & productions

The Countrey bordering on the Missourie as high as the Kanzas is rich and well watered, extinsive planes back which is also Rich—    to the Plate less timbered land, Countrey Rich and fertile—    from the Plate to the Fort Mandan the Countrey is Generally open Plains, intersperced with Groves of Timber, which is to be found on the Rivers & Smaller Streams Generally—    This Countrey abounds in a variety of wild froot, Such as Plumbs, Cherris, Currents, Rasburies, Sarvis berry, High bush Cram burry (or Pimbanah) [3] Grapes, a Red Biry Called by the french Greas au Beff &. &.

Ores Minirals Salts & Salt Salines

I know of no Body of ore, it is said that the Sioux know of a Silver mine on the R. De Moin,—and I am also told that Lead ore has been descovered in Several places. I am told by Several that Several Small Lakes [& &c?] N E of the Mandans is So much the quality of Glober Salts as to be unpleasing to drink—    the runs in the hils above the Jacque is so much impregnated with glover Salts as to have its effect    The Bluffs of the Missouri above R. Jacque abounds in minerals of various Kinds, Such as Cobalt, Piritus, Alum, Coparas, & a variety of other mineral    Salt is Collected in various parts of the Missourie Country perticularly on a Creek 60 Lgs. up the Republican fork of the Kanzas River    it is Collected by Sweeping it together with a Broom of feathers on a hard Surface, The Grand Saline one fork of the Arkansas, also the red Satem pot Saline, & Cristict Salt on the waters of that River—    Salt is made in 3 places on the River Rogue of Lake Winnipic. Maney Small licks near the Missouri in different posts, no doubt (from their appearance) equal to any.

The Different kinds of wild Animals &
where to be found White Bear &c.

The wild ammals Common below the River Platt is Such as are Common in the Indiana Territory    Those on the Missouri from the Plate to the Mandans are Elk Common Deer, fallow Deer, Mule Deer with Black tail, Antalope or Goats Buffalow Har[e]s Rabits large wolves, Small wolves (Red foxes & Small Grey foxes above the Chayenne River) Porcupins Bra-roes, a Small Dog or Squirel which lives in Burrowed Villages & Barks at the approach at any thing they do not understand weasel mice of Different kinds in great abundance Beaver & otter, the upper part a fiew Loucirvea and Grisley Bear which is said to be verry dangerous. The Countrey above the Mandans Contain great numbers of those anamils Common below and the White & Rid Bear [4] (The White Bear is larger and more dangerous than eithr the Grey or Rid bear and frequently Kill the Indians, Two of the minetarees has been Killed and eate up this winter 〈near〉 on thier hunting parties—[)]    The Black hills is Said abound in Bear of every kind, and in addition to all those animals Common on the Missouri an Animmal with verry large horns Curved about the Size of a Small Elk, and a Booted Turkey commonly white—    maney othr animals is Said to inhabit the Rockey mountains Such as Branded Goats Squirels of Different kinds & Sizes uncommon in the U. S. (I have seen the Skins of Several)

Birds Waterfowls uncommon in the U S.

about 1150 miles up the Missouri and from thenc up we have the Magpy, the Calumet eagle is Scerce, but to be found on the Missouri above the Kanzas—    this Bird is about the Size of a 〈Grey〉 Bald Eagle, a part of its tail & wings white, much prised by all the Indians, the owl is Smaller & high up the Missouri white, [5] a fiew white Brant is to be Seen as low as the Chyenne River (Rattle Snakes are 〈not numerous〉)

Indians [Nt. Ch.? nation's character?]

The Kanzas ottoes Missouris Poncars 〈the Different bands of Sious〉 are fierce pilfering Set and viewed as bandittes by the Traders who visit them. The Pancas, Loups, Republicans Mahars and majority of the Ricaras are mild Sincere and well disposed towards the whites    live in villages &—The Different Bands of the Tetons a tribe of Sioux are fierce deceitfull unprencipaled robers, they rove on either side of the Missouri about Chyennes, River    The Mandans Minetarras & Ma harhas are certainly the most mild sincere Indians I ever Saw, the Mandans particularly

Indians Claims to Lands

No limits can be discribed for any of the Nations & tribes except the Sioux Osages as war with each other frequently happen which forces one party to remove, a considerable distance from the other, untill peace is restored, at which period all lands are Generally in common—    yet it is not common for two tribes to Camp together for any long time or hunt in the Same neighbourhood.

The Osage Claim a great extent of Countrey on the Osage Kanzas & Arkansaw Rivers    The Sioux Claim on both Sides of the Missouri from the Mahars to near the Mandans & to the Mississippi from Crow Wing River Down to near the Demoin & to the Mouth of Little River Sioux, the Ayawwas & Saukes & Renards Claim the lower potion of the Missouri on the N E Side.

I have never herd of any Treaty haveing been entered into betwen Spain and the Indian for a boundery or Lands and I belive that Nation are userpers, on the Missouri & high up the Mississippi

The Geography may be Seen as well as is at this time Know by a refurence to my map of the Missouri and its waters &c.

The Different nations are written in red Ink on the Map, as they are Situated numbers &. &.

Their Trade, Cultivation & mode of Life.

The Osage, Kansas, Ottoes & Missouri, Pania, Republican & Loups, Ayauwais Saukies & Renars, Ricaras Mandans, Menatarres & Ma har,hars live in Vilages and raise Corn beeen, Semmins &c. artichoaks all except the three latter nations Trade with the merchants from St. Louis & mickellimaken Sackes Renars & Ayawais, with the latter, the Mandans Minatarra & Ma har ha Trade with the British Companies from the Assinniboin River—    The Sioux near the Mississippi Trade with Merchants from Michillenmackinac, the Yankton ah nah & one the bands of Tetons trade partially with the mrchants from St Louis, The Mahars & poncassars as also all the Nations west of the Missouri, have no Trader and what little trafick they have is with other nations for which they give horses Garment of the Skin of the Big horn animal &. &. The Assiniboins and those nations N and N E of them Trade with the British Traders Scattered on the waters of Lake Winnipic —    The Snake Nation and those on the heads of the River Platte & Rockjone R have some little trafick with the Spaniards of New Mixico, all those nations on the main branch of the Missouri & near it the Indians have no trade or aney intercourse with the whites    all those last mintioned Nations, rove in the Plains & Mount[ains]    no Settled place of abode, and do not raise Corn Beans tho fond to trade for them

The articles which the nations apper
perticularly fond of

The Tetons & Yanktons are fond of Tobacco Guns Powder & Ball Horses Knives & alls & pertically Spirrits

The Ricaras appear fond of Paint Blue Beeds rings the Tale & feathers of the Calumet Eagle and partially of any other article of merchandize also horses.    do not drink Spiritious Licquer—    The Mandans Menetaries & Maharhas are fond of War axes in a perticular form [here a drawing of war ax] [6] Blue beeds, pipes, paint, The tale & [top?] feathers of the Calumet Eagle, Knives, Guns, Powder & Ball, White Buffalow Skin, & Horses &. &. arrow points

The nations in every quarter I am told are fond of Blue Beeds, red Paint, Knives, axes, Guns & ammunition.

Their arms and method of takeing their game.

The arms of the nations on the Missouri is fusees & Bows & Arrows The fusies are Short and tight. The lower nations make use of fusies principally    those higher up i e the Mahas, Poncaris, Sioux, Ricaras, Mandans, Minetarras, Ma har has Assinniboins and the wandering Bands make much more use of Bows & arrows than of fusees—    they most of those nations have Guns but find it much Cheaper to kill their game with arrows than with Ball—    Those nations pursue the Buffalow on horse Back and after fatiegueing them a little, ride Close by the Side of the Fatest and Shoot her with arrows, their bows being Strong backed with Sinears [sinews] Some times force an arrow through a Cow—    They are bad Deer hunters, and those they kill is Generally with the fusee, also the Elk and wilder game.    the Antelope or Goat they Sometimes drive them into pens, they also get them in the rivers, parties on each Sides & the Boys Kill them with Sticks in the River—    The wolves & foxes Catch in holes or traps of logs.

〈The method〉 What is their Form of Carrying on
War & making peace

The Different nations have peculiarities of their own—    The Me ne tarras when a Chief intends to go to war he makes a feest & Some one man informs of his intentions in a harrang, & at the time they Set out it is not known by those that go how maney the party will Consist, the leave the village at Different times 〈Chiefly〉 Prompally at night and meet a Some given point—    on their return they enter their village with great pomp if they are suckcessfull, if not they Steel in as they went out.    all Boy Prisoners & men they addopt, the feamales they make Slaves of which is Custom of the nations generally—    The pipe is the Semblem of peace with all, The different nations have their different fashions of Dilivering and receiving of it—    The party delivering generally Confess their Errors & request a peace, the party receiving exult in their Suckcesses and receive the Sacred Stem &c—


It is probable from the Similarity of maney of those nations that they were at Some period embodied in a more Civillised State, perhaps the decendants of Several Great nations—    Some of those nations Say their forefathers imigrated from the S. & others from the East or up the river—Some from the Ohio

Their mode of Punishment for
Larger & Lesser Crimes

The Mandans punish Capatal Crimes with Death, Smaller Crimes by reason Contempt & Conventrey, The man So treated proves his deturmination to reform by penance, runing arrows through the flesh, Cutting themselves in Different places, going into the Plains necked & Starveing maney Days, and returns, this being a proofe of his determination to reform, they after much Serimony take him into favour, "a punishment for boys too fond of women" is to Dress and perform the Duties of Women dureing Life. [7] The Minitars Maharhas have Similar Customs—

Our reception and treatment Generally

all nations at all times with great attention and appearent friendship, The Tetons Treated us roughfly as before discribed—    The other nations have at all times have appeared friendly and well disposed towards us (the Sioux & ottoes are great Beggers—    The nations above the Sioux perticularly the mandans never beg altho, they may be in great want of the article[)]

our peculiar Situations as to provision &c. &c

we by the aide of our Black smiths precured Corn Sufficient for the party dureing the winter and about 70 or 90 bushels to Carry with us.    we Soon found that no Dependance Could be put in the Information of our Interpreter Jessomme's Information respecting the Supplies of meat we were to recive of the Indians, and Sent out hunters and frequently went ourselves to hunt the Buffalow Elk & Deer, and precured a Sufficency dureing the winter—, also Skins for our mens Shoes—    The Indians being without meat half the winter—fearfull of going out at any great Distance to hunt for fear of the Sioux who are Continually harrassing the mandans &c. We had at one period of the Winter Buffalow in great numbers near us    the weather being excessively Cold we Could, we found it imprackable to precure at that tinme a Sufficiency of Meat without the riesque of friesing maney of our men, who frequently, were Slightly frosted.

The Mountains & their Situation—

The Cote-Noir or Black Mountains are Situated in Several ranges on the S W Side of the Missouri and run N. N. W. & S. S. E from the heads of the Kanzas and Arkansaws as far North as about Latd. 46° N. and back of 4 ranges of those mountains is the Rockey or Shineing Mountains, which run in nearly the Same Derection, a Small Mountain is Situated at the head of Knife River N W. of Fort Mandan about 30 Leagues Called Turtle Mountain—    a long narrow mountain is Situated about N W. of fort Mandan about 30 or 40 Leages Called Moose Deer Mountain, [8] North of Fort Mandan & no Great Distance from the Establishments on the Assinniboin River is situated a high wooded Countrey    on which there is several Small lakes, this high Countrey is Called Turtle Mountain, Several detached mountains are Situated above this in different Derections

The Traders & Their Conduct &c. &c.

The traders who frequented the nations below heretofore were such as purchased the privilage of tradeing with the different nations, and as their terms of trade was not certain for any length of time, did not interest themselves in diswadeing the Indians from any vicious act which they might have had in view, being at all times jellous of their temporary provilegeis—    The Traders who visit the Seoux are from different quarters and in Course jealous of each, those jelousies in Trade leads those trades to Speak unfavourable of each other, which gives the Indians an unfavourable opinion of 〈them〉 all the whites &. The Trades who frequnt the Mandans & Minetarres are from two British Companie N W. & Hudsons Bay, Those British Companies have carried their jelousy to Such hite, as to give the Indians a bad oppinion of all whites from that quarter, they not only do every thing in their power to Injur each other, but oppose each other in the presence of the Indians, Several instancs of violance on the property & persons of each other & one Deaths not long Since— [9]

What is Genl. Shape, Sise, Colr and
Dress & Amusements.

The Indians of the Missoury is will Shaped Generally    The Sioux Ottoes & Missouri are Smaller than the Indians are Generally. The Sioux normeley Dark, with small legs    The Osage, Kanzes, Panias Mahars Ricaras, & Mandans, are large men, women of all Generally Small    The Minetarras Maharhas & Crow Indians are large portley men, Tall women well proportioned.—    The Assininiboins & Christiones are much like the Sioux—    The Chyennes, Castihania Can nar vesh and those Indians which I have seen that rove between the Cote Noir & rock mountains are large & fine looking fellows—    The Snake Squars are remarkably Small, the men I am told are also Small—    The Indians low down the Missouri dress in Skins & what clothes and trinkets they can precure from the whites—    The Sioux dress in leather except a Breach Cloth, except on their first days then those who have them put on better Clothes—    The Ricaras & Mandans men, Dress in Leather Leagens & mockasons a flap of Blanket Generally before & a Roabe of Buffalow Skin Dressed, the womin the Same and a Shift of the Antelope or big horn animal, fringed & decerated with Blue Beeds Elk tusks & pieces of red Cloth, the Minatares & other Squars in the nighbourhood the Same    the Minatars men ware a shirt in winter Generally of Dressed Elkskin maney decrattions about the head feet & Legs of Skins Shells, Talents [talons] &c. &c. &c.

The amusements of the men of Mandans & nighbours are playing the Ball & Rackets, Suffustence Feists to bring the Buffalow (in which all the young & handsom women are giving to the old men & Strangers to embrace,[)] many others feists & Dances of a similar kind—    The women have a kind of game which they play with a Soft Ball with their foot, they being viewed as property & in course Slaves to the men have not much leisure time to Spear—    (maney men have 4. 5. 6 & 7 wives    Generally Sisters    in marying or Purches the eldest he Genly. Gets all)

The Superstitions & Mode of Deposeing the Dead

All the nations which I have Seen are Superstitious and have a faboulous tale of their Tredition, but none So much So as the nations high up the Missouri, The Ricaras Mandans & Minetarras have Stones Situated in the plain which they Consult every year for They Say that the See figers on the Stone's early in the morning Emblematical of what is to take place the Suckceeding year—    The Ricaras and the nations below them Cover their Dead with earth    the Mandans and the nations about them Scaffold their dead and pay great Devotion to them after Death, frequently Sacrifice to them, They have Certain Animals &c. which they worship, or view as enspired with asserting power to which they make great Sacrifices of their property, it is not uncommon to thro away to those medisons 10 horses, Robes &c &c—    that they never attend to after. They Show their greif by Cutting off their hair and Small fingers and pierceing their flesh.

The nations 〈high up〉 on the Missouri are Generly helthy but few of them have remidies for Diseases, they make great use of the Coal bath & Swets—    Sioux Cure the Bite of the Mad Dog & Snake with a root common in all open Countrey before discribed    the Goitre is common, womin perticularly.

Their houses & Lod[g]es Mode of life
& how Convay burthen

The house & Lodges of the Indians on the Missouri are nearly resembling each other—    Their Houses (also Cald. Lodges) are built in a Circular form of different Sises from 20 to 70 feet Diameter and from 8 to 14 feet high, Supported with 4 pillars Set in a Squar form near the Center near the hight of the hut.    around the huts forks about 4 feet with Beems from one to the other, which form the Circle and Support the Top, around and on the top of those beems they place neet round poles, on the top of those poles Small willows & grass, & cover all (except a hole 4 or 5 feet Squars at top) with earth, laveing also a Dore Generally on the South Side from which they have a projection about 5 feet covered—    Their Lodges are made of Dressed Buffalow Skinns, to Stretch on poles So as to form a Cone & Some of them will hold Conveniently 20 men—    The Mandans & Minnetarras & live in 2. 3 & 4 families in a Cabin, their horses & Dogs in the Same hut, all provisions killed are in Common, not only in the different Lodges but frequently throughout the nation, they Seldom [dust?] the hut or Clean the horse appartment    The Squars do all the Lavour & Carry the burthens with the assistance of their Dogs which the Homes in a Small Stay or two poles which with one of the ends of each on the Ground, and the Load across the poles &c. [10]

Their Laws & Government & Similarity
of Language &

The Sioux have regular police 〈no Stationary〉 no fixed Laws but what is brought on by Custom, and all the other nations have no other Laws    the Good or bad government of the nations are owing and Depend in a great measure on the dispositions & Correctness of the Chiefs who are feared by the majority—    all nations Harrang.    Genl. the old men perform this Service by the derection of the Cheifs

In all the languages of the Different nations on the Missouri maney words are the Same, The Osage, Kanzas, Mahars & Poncars speak the Same language with different promouncation and Some words Different    The Pania, Loups, Republican, Pania Pickey and Ricaras Speake the Same Language with much [Coruptn?]

The Sioux & Assinniboins the Same Language—    The Mandans some fiew words of Several language (They lern with great facility)    The Minitarres Ma har ha Crow & fall Indians Speake the Same language    The Ottoes Missoures Ayuwuais, & [Poucons?] [11] Speake the Same Language.


Area about Fort Mandan and North to the
Assinboine River, undated (winter 1804–5),
Voorhis Collection, Missouri Historical Society
Missouri Historical Society

The Course from the Fort Mandan to the Fort Chaboillez's on the Assinna Boin is North 150 Miles

Mirey creek   12 & Big C. of wood 16 to the E to a lake
Mous river } 50 to the river La Sou 4 L
30 yd wide
and 20 Legues to a Small creek of the Mous R
  &   3   do    to the next—
  &   1 League cross the Lasou or M.
  & 20 L Cross the Ditto to the R    Pass Turtle Hites [Hills?] a 6 L.
  &   7 to Assinibon
1. This table from document 67 of the Field Notes was presumably written before the departure from Fort Mandan and before the captains had actually seen the "Rochejone" (Yellowstone) or the Falls of the Missouri. It outlines an ambitious scheme for control of the Louisiana Territory and its inhabitants and trade. It would be decades before the federal government summoned the will or the resources to implement it fully. In 1819 a military expedition set out up the Missouri to establish a post at the mouth of the Yellowstone, but it got no farther than the Council Bluffs in Nebraska, where it erected Fort Atkinson, abandoned in 1827. There would be no military post at the mouth of the Yellowstone, or anywhere near the Great Falls of the Missouri, until the 1860s. The army did not establish a lasting presence beyond the eastern edge of the Great Plains until 1848. Nonetheless, the captains' astuteness is indicated by the fact that military posts were eventually established at or near about two-thirds of the sites they selected. "Musick" refers to drummers, buglers, and other military musicians. Several columns of figures do not add up as given. Nichols & Halley, 61–100; Prucha (SR), 81–102, 139–67. (back)
2. This brief summary by Clark of most aspects of the Missouri valley is part of the Biddle Family Deposit of "seven manuscript items" (see Appendix B) in the American Philosophical Society. It is a combined printing of items two and four which appear to be one continuous document that has become separated over time. From internal evidence it is clear that it was composed at Fort Mandan, but may have been copied later for the use of Nicholas Biddle after 1810. (back)
3. The "sarvis berry" is Amelanchier alnifolia Nutt., juneberry or serviceberry. The high bush cranberry, or pembina, may be identified as Viburnum opulus L. var. americanum Ait., although its distribution is more northerly. It may be that Clark or his informants were actually seeing the nannyberry and applying the name pembina to it. Pembina is a corruption of the Chippewa word nepin-minan, "summer berry." Barkley, 137, 329–30; Gilmore (UPI), 63–64, 63 n. 1. (back)
4. This "red bear" is perhaps the cinnamon color phase of the black bear, Ursus americanus, since Clark's Indian informants seem to have distinguished its behavior from that of the grizzly. Jones et al., 264. (back)
5. Clark had perhaps either seen or been told of the snowy owl, Nyctea scandiaca [AOU, 376], during the winter at Fort Mandan; this arctic bird sometimes winters in the northern United States. (back)
6. This drawing is a simplified sketch of the war hatchet shown and discussed on January 28 and February 5, 1805. See fig. 6. (back)
7. Evidently a reference to the "berdashes" (see above, December 22, 1804), although being "too fond of women" hardly conveys what Clark apparently means. (back)
8. One or more of various high buttes and low mountains in west-central North Dakota and east-central Montana. (back)
9. Perhaps a reference to the death of Ménard. See above, October 25, 1804. (back)
10. A description of the travois of the plains tribes. (back)
11. Perhaps the Winnebagos who are linguistically related to the other named tribes. A synonymy of names lists terms similar to Clark's word, for example, Pouans. Hodge, 2:961. (back)
12. Clark must have gathered this material and the accompanying map (fig. 11) at Fort Mandan; it concerns the route from there to the North West Company's principal post on the Assiniboine River in Manitoba, managed by Charles Chaboillez. The source would be the company agents—Larocque, McKenzie, and Heney—who visited the captains during the winter. Clark's "Mous" is the present Souris River (Clark's "La Sou"), also known as the Mouse. It enters the Assiniboine River southeast of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. The document is in the Voorhis Collection of the Missouri Historical Society on a sheet which also has an undated Lewis document. (back)