March 9, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

March 9, 1805


on the 9th of March we were Visited by the Grand Chief of the Minetarres, [1] to whome we gave a medal & Some Cloths & a flag. Sent a French Man & a Indian with a letter to Mr. Tabboe informing them the Ricarras of the desire the Mandans had to See them &. &.—


a Cloudy Cold and windey morning    wind from the North—    walked up to See the Party that is makeing Perogues, about 5 miles above this, the wind hard and Cold    on my way up I met The [NB: The Borgne] Main Chief of the Manitarres with four Indians [NB: see note of 9 March after] on Thier way to [NB: 10th March 1805] See us, I requested him to proceed on to the fort where he would find Capt. Lewis    I should be there my Self in corse of a fiew hours, Sent the interpeter back with him and proceeded on my Self to the Canoes    found them nearly finished, the timber verry bad, [2] after visiting all the perogues where I found a number of Indans I wind to the upper mandan Village & Smoked a pipe the greatest mark of friendship and attention with the Chief and returned    on my return found the Manitarree Chief about Setting out on his return to his village, having recieved of Captain M. Lewis a medel Gorget [3] armbans, a Flag Shirt, Scarlet &c. &c. &c. for which he was much pleased    Those Things were given in place of Sundery articles Sent to him which he Sais he did not receive    2 guns were fired for this Great man


Saturday 9th March 1805.    the wind high from the N. W.    cold. Capt. Clark went up to the perogue party for to See the perogues.    a nomber of the Savages called the Big Belleys, chiefs came to the Fort to See the Commanding officers [4]    Capt. Lewis Shewed them the air Gun quadron [5] & Spy Glass &.C. which they thought was Great Medicines.

1. Le Borgne, or One Eye, was easily the most notorious chief—among whites—on the upper Missouri at this period. He had a formidable, and largely bad, reputation. Traders' and travelers' accounts agree in describing him as ugly, brutal, lecherous, bad-tempered, and homicidal, while generally acknowledging his leadership ability and prowess in war. Alexander Henry the Younger seems one of the few to have given a positive evaluation of him. He was less than cordial to Lewis and Clark but was far more favorable toward the British traders, being particularly helpful to François-Antoine Larocque, when the rest of the tribe opposed the trader's proposed trip to the Yellowstone in 1805. When he chose to accept someone as his guest, he protected that person with all the force of his character and reputation. The Hidatsas finally threw him out of power in 1813, after which he withdrew and established a separate village of only a few lodges. Some time later he was reportedly killed by another Hidatsa chief, Red Shield. Wood & Thiessen, 116 n. 28 and passim.; Thwaites (EWT), 5:161–62, 167, 6:140–41, 15:97; Coues (NLEH), 1:379—80 and passim.; Masson, 1:343–92; Pierre Chouteau to William Eustis, December 14, 1809, Nicholas Biddle Notes [ca. April 1810], Jackson (LLC), 2:482, 505, 539; Luttig, 73, 121–22. (back)
2. Here is a short interlineation in red, "Qut" for question, probably by Biddle. (back)
3. Originally a piece of armor to protect the throat, by the eighteenth century the gorget had become a purely ornamental plate hung around the neck to symbolize officer status. It was also used as merchandise in the Indian trade and as a gift to chiefs. Criswell, 43; Woodward, 25–26, 30–37. (back)
4. Among them Le Borgne, or One Eye, principal chief of the Hidatsas. (back)
5. The expedition's quadrant. (back)