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

February 20, 1805


a Butifull Day, visited by the Little raven verry early this morning    I am informed of the Death of an old man whome I Saw in the Mandan Village.    this man, informed me that he "was 120 winters old, he requested his grand Children to Dress him after Death & Set him on a Stone on a hill with his face towards his old Village or Down the river, that he might go Streight to his brother at their old village under ground["] [1]    I observed Several Mandan 〈of〉 verry old Chiefly men


Wednesday 20th Feby. 1805.    a clear & pleasant morning.    the hunters went on eairly    we delayed a Short time to let them Git on a head.    we then Set out and proceeded on verry well about 10 miles & halted    broiled & eat Some meat & proceeded on a Short distance & took on 3 deer which the hunters had killed and halled on the Ice.    we came about 8 miles further which took us above the Mandans Island as we call it. [2]    we heard the hunters Shooting on the S. Side.    we camped on the South Side    the hunters came in had killed five Elk    we packed in three of them and night came on so that the hunters could not find the other 2.

1. The man's wish that his spirit go downriver is apparently related to the Mandans' belief that the spirits of deceased persons traveled south to spirit villages at the mouth of the Heart River. There was also a belief that an underground village was located near the mouth of the Mississippi River from which the precursors of the Mandans surfaced. These two ideas may become garbled in Clark's rendition. The man's reference to meeting his brother may relate to the Mandans' idea that life after death was more or less the same as life before death. Bowers (MSCO), 98–99, 183–84; Thwaites (EWT), 23:360–62; personal communication from Jeffery Hanson, October 18, 1985. (back)