January 5, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

January 5, 1805


a cold day    Some Snow, Several Indians visit us with thier axes to get them mended, I imploy my Self drawing a Connection of the Countrey from what information I have recved— [1]    a Buffalow Dance (or Medison) [NB: medecine] for 3 nights passed in the 1st Village, a curious Custom the old men arrange themselves in a circle & after Smoke a pipe, which is handed them by a young man, Dress up for the purpose, the young men who have their wives back of the circle 〈Com〉 go to one of the old men with a whining tone and [NB?: request] the old man to take his wife (who presents necked except a robe) and—(or Sleep with him)    the Girl then takes the Old man (who verry often can Scercely walk) and leades him to a Convenient place for the business, after which they return to the lodge, if the Old man (or a white man) returns to the lodge without gratifying the man & his wife, he offers her again and again; it is often the Case that after the 2d time 〈he〉 without Kissing the Husband throws a nice robe over the old man & and begs him not to dispise him, & his wife

(we Sent a man to this Medisan 〈Dance〉 last night, they gave him 4 Girls)

all this is to cause the buffalow to Come near So that They may kill thim [2]


Saturday 5th Jany. 1805.    high blustry winds all last night & verry cold    three of our hunters Stayed out all night.    a cold morning.    one of the hunters Set a trap last night & caught a large Grey woolf.

1. Clark was probably at work on some version of his map of the West sent back to Jefferson in April 1805 (Atlas maps 32a, 32b, and 32c), based on information from Indians and traders. (back)
2. In the delicate fashion of the era Biddle rendered Clark's account of the ceremony into Latin, with a few additional details, in his History. Even Coues, or his publisher, did not see fit to translate the passage from Latin in 1893. The purpose here was the passing of the spiritual power of the old men to the younger generation through their wives. The white visitors also received such offers because they were also thought to possess great power. Nicholas Biddle Notes [ca. April 1810], Jackson (LLC), 2:538 (the English version of Biddle's notes on the ceremony, from Clark's recollections); Thwaites (EWT), 24:30 (Maximilian's brief description of the same ceremony); Coues (HLC), 1:221–22. Ronda (LCAI), 131–32, discusses the ceremony in its cultural setting. For a modern translation, see Marx. (back)