January 20, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

January 20, 1805


20th    a Cold fair day    Several Indians at the fort to day    a miss understanding took place between the two inturpeters on account of their Squars, one of the Squars of Shabownes Squars being Sick, I ordered my Servent to, give her Some froot Stewed and tee at dift Tims which was the Cause of the misundstd


Observed Equal altitudes of the ☉, with Sextant & glass horizon.

  h    m      s         h    m      s
A. M. 8    40    20   P. M. 1    21    55
   "    47    15      "    24    47
   "    50    10     lost by a cloud

Altitude given by Sextant at the time of obstn.    31° 40° 15"

  h m   s
Chronometer too slow on mean time— 1 15 20.3

☞ the horizon was removed from it's first adjustment.


Sunday 20th Jany.    a pleasant morning    the natives bring us considerable corn.


Sunday 20th.    I went up with one of the men to the villages. They treated us friendly and gave us victuals. After we were done eating they presented a bowlful to a buffaloe head, saying, "eat that." Their superstitious credulity is so great, that they believe by using the head well the living buffaloe will come and that they will get a supply of meat. [2]


Sunday 20th Jany. 1805. [3]    Some men went up to the villages.    they informed us that they all used them verry well.    gave them pleanty to eat, & when they had done eating they gave a bowl of victuls to a buflows head which they worshiped, & Sd. Eat this So that the live ones may come in that we may git a Supply of meat.    Some of them & indeed the most of them have Strange & uncommon Ideas, but verry Ignorant of our forms & customs, but quick & Sensible in their own way & in their own conceit &c &c.

Sunday Janry 20th    We still continued to have clear cold weather.    some of our Men went up to the 1st Mandan Indian Village, on their return they informd us, that they had been well used by the Indians of that Town, and that they had given them, plenty to eat, of buffalo Meat, beans, & pounded Corn boil'd.—

They informed us, that after they had finish'd eating 〈they〉 That the Mandan Indians put a quantity of the same Victuals into a Woodin Bowl.    they then brought forward the Head of a buffalo, which they fell down & Worshipped, and then set before it, the Bowl of Victuals, and said (as our Interpreter who was with us told us) Eat this, and tell the live Buffaloes, to come in to us, so that we may get plenty of Buffalo meat to Eat.—    They let this Bowl remain before the head of the buffalo, 'till our Men left their Village.—    The party who was at this Village also say that those Indians, possess very strange and uncommon Ideas of things in general, They are very Ignorant, and have no Ideas of our forms & customs, neither in regard to our Worship or the Deity &ca.

They are Indians of very Quick apprehension, of anything in their way; and Conceited in themselves to a fault.—    This they judged from the 〈first〉 answers, they gave to questions they asked 〈by〉 〈from〉 them; the whole of which was told to our Men, by the Interpreter that they took with them from the Fort,—

1. Lewis's astronomical observation from Codex O. (back)
2. Gass and Whitehouse both describe this religious practice and seem to have understood its purpose, which was to placate the spirit of the buffalo and cause the animals to come near and offer themselves as food. (back)
3. About the lower one-third of this page is blank after the entry. A new entry, May 1, 1805, begins at the top of the next page; there seem to be no sheets missing from the notebook at this point. The fair copy provides entries for the missing days but has some gaps itself. (back)