April 17, 1806
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April 17, 1806


This morning early I sent out the hunters, and set several additional hands about the packsaddles. I find that the sturgeon [1] is not taken by any of the natives above the Columbean vally.    the inhabitants of the rapids at this time take a few of the white salmon trout and considerable quantities of a small indifferent mullet [2] on which they principally subsist. I have seen none except dryed fish of the last season in the possession of the people above that place, they subsist on roots principally with some dryed and pounded fish.    the salmon not having made their appearance proves a serious inconvenience to us.    but few of the natives visited my camp today and those only remained a few hours.    even at this place which is merely on the border of the plains of Columbia the climate seems to have changed the air feels dryer and more pure.    the earth is dry and seems as if there had been no rain for a week or ten days.    the plain is covered with a rich virdure of grass and herbs from four to nine inches high and exhibits a beautifull seen particularly pleasing after having been so long imprisoned in mountains and those almost impenetrably thick forrests of the seacoast. Joseph Feilds brought me today three eggs of the party coloured corvus, [3] they are about the size and shape of those of the pigeon.    they are bluish white much freckled with dark redish brown irregular spots, in short it is reather a mixture of those colours in which the redish brwn predominates, particularly towards the larger end.—    This evening Willard and Cruzatte returned from Capt. Clark and brought me a note in which Capt. C. informed me that he had sill been unsuccessfull having not obtained a single horse as yet from the natives and the state of our stores are so low that I begin to fear we shall not be enabled to obtain as many horses at this place as will convey our baggage and unless we do obtain a sufficient number for that purpose we shall not hasten our progress as a part of our baggage must still be conveyed by water. Capt. C. informed me that he should proceed as far as the Eneshur village today and would return tomorrow and join me at the Skillute village to which place I mean to proceed with the party tomorrow. I dispatched Shannon with a note to Capt. Clark in which I requested him to double the price we have heretofore offered for horses and if possible obtain as many as five, by this means we shall be enabled to proceed immediately with our small canoes and those horses to the villages in the neighbourhood of the mussel shell rapid [4] where horses are more abundant and cheaper; with the remainder of our merchandize in addition to the canoes we can no doubt obtain as many horses there as will answer our purposes.    delay in the villages at the narrows and falls will be expensive to us inasmuch as we will be compelled to purchase both fuel and food of the indians, and might the better enable them to execute any hostile desighn should they meditate any against us.—    all the hunters returned in the evening. Sheilds had killed one deer which he brought with him.    the packsaddles were completed this evening. I had some Elkskins put in the water today make harnes for the packhorses but shall not cut them untill I know the number we can obtain.—    there is a species of hiasinth [5] in these plains the bulb of which the natives eat either boiled baked or dryed in the sun.    this bulb is white, not entirely solid, and of a flat form; the bulb of the present year overlays, or crowns that of the last, and seems to be pressed close to it, the old bulb is withered much thiner 〈and〉 equally wide with that of the present year and sends fourth from it's sides a number of small radicles.—    this hiasinth is of a pale blue colour and is a very pretty flower. I preserved a specemine of it.


I rose early and took a position near to the village and exposed the artiles I had for Sale Great numbers of Indians Came from different derections, Some from below Some above and others across the Countrey from the Tapteet river See description of the Nations &c.—    I obtained a Sketch of the Columbia as also Clarks river.    See sketch [6] I made a bargin with the Chief who has more horses than all the village besides for 2 horses. Soon after he Canseled his bargin, and we again bargined for 3 horses, they were brought forward, and only one fit for Service, the others had Such intolerable backs as to render them entirely unfit for Service.    as I would not take the 3 he would not Sell the good one to me, and we were off the bargin. I then packed up and was about Setting out for the Falls when one Indian Sold me 2 horses and one other one horse, and Some others Said they w[ished] to trade which caused me to conclude to delay here one other night. Maney of the natives from above Come and Said they would trade, but asked a higher price than I thought I could give or reather more than this nation asked.—    Great numbers of Men.—    I hed to purchase 3 dogs for the men to eate & Some Shap-per-lell. I Sent Crusat, Wiser, Willard and McNeal back to Capt Lewis informing him of my ill Suck'sess, and adviseing him to proceed on to this place as Soon as possible, and my intention of proceededing on to the falls to purchase horses if possible Several Indians arived late this evening. Capt. Lewis Sent me a note by Shannon informing me that he would Set early on tomorrow morning early &c. &c. I sleped in house of 〈with〉 the 2d Chief and they had not any thing except fish to eate and no wood for fire. those people have a number of buffalow robes. They have great number of Skimming nets


I rose early after bad nights rest, and took my merchindize to a rock which afforded an elegable Situation for my purpose, and at a Short distance from the houses, and divided the articles of merchindize into parsels of Such articles as I thought best Calculated to pleas the Indians, and in each parcel I put as many articles as we could afford to give, and thus exposed them to view, informing the Indians that each parcel was intended for a horse.    they tanterlised me the greater part of the day, Saying that they had Sent out for their horses and would trade as Soon as they Came. Several parcels of merchindize was laid by for which they told me they would bring horses. I made a bargin with the Chief for 2 horses, about an hour after he canseled the bargin and we again bargained for 3 horses which were brought foward, only one of the 3 could be possibly used the other two had Such intolerable backs as to render them entirely unfit for Service. I refused to take two of them which displeased him and he refused to part with the 3rd. I then packed up the articles and was about Setting out for the Village above when a man Came and Sold me two horses, and another man Sold me one horse, and Several others informed me that they would trade with me if I would Continue untill their horses could be drove up.    this induced me to Continue at this Village another day. Maney of the nativs from different villages on the Columbia above offered to trade, but asked Such things as we had not and double as much of the articles which I had as we could afford to give.    this was a very unfavourable circumstance as my dependance for precureing a Sufficiency of horses rested on the Suckcess above where I had reasons to believe there were a greater abundance of those animals, and was in hopes of getting them on better terms. I purchased 3 dogs for the party with me to eate and Some Chap-pa-lell for my Self.    before precureing the 3 horses I dispatched Crusat, Willard & McNeal and Peter Wiser to Capt Lewis at the Rock fort Camp with a note informing him of my ill Suckcess in precureing horses, and advised him to proceed on to this place as Soon as possible.    that I would in the mean time proceed on to the Enesher Nation above the Great falls and try to purchase Some horses of that people. Soon after I had dispatched this party the Chief of the Enesher's and 15 or 20 of his people visited me and appeared to be anxious to See the articles I offered for the horses. Several of them agreeed to let me have horses if I would add Sundery articles to those I offered which I agreeed to [X: do], and they lay'd those bundles by and informed me they would deliver me the horses in he morning. I proposed going with them to their Town.    the Chief informed me that their horses were all in the plains with their womin gathering roots.    they would Send out and bring the horses to this place tomorrow.    this entiligence was flattering, tho' I doubted the Sincerity of those people who had Several times disapointed me in a Similar way.    however I deturmined to Continue untill tomorrow.    in the mean time industously employd. our Selves with the great multitude of indians of differant Nations about us trying to purchase horses. Shabono purchased a verry fine Mare for which he gave Hurmen, [7] Elks Teeth, a belt and Some other articles of no great value.   no other purchase was made in the Course of this day. in the evening I recved a note from Capt L—    by Shannon informing me that he Should Set out early on tomorrow morning and Should proceed up to the bason 2 miles below the Skillute Village.    and adviseing me to give double the prices which we had first agreed on for each horse. I observe at every house 〈great〉 Scooping Nets with which they take the Salmon.

I was envited into the house of the 2nd Chief were Concluded to Sleep.    this man was pore nothing to eat but dried fish, and no wood to burn.    altho' the night was Cold they Could not rase as much wood as would make a fire


Thursday 17th of April 1806.    a beautiful warm morning. Several of our hunters went out a hunting.    the Small birds of different kinds are Singing around us. Capt. Clark not returned but wrote a line to Capt. Lewis that he had not purchased any horses yet but was going up to another village above the falls where he expected to purchase Some this day. Capt. Lewis wrote back that we Should move tomorrow up to the bason as far as we can go with the canoes.    our hunters killed only one Deer this day.    towards evening a number of Indians visited our Camp    one of them informed us that he had killed 2 Indians on this ground in a battle some years ago as they were at war with Some nations to the Southward.—


Thursday 17th.    This was a fine morning. Some hunters [8] went out and we remained at this camp all day; in the evening our hunters came in and had killed a deer. We made 12 packsaddles. Captain Clarke still remains over the river.

1. Presumably the white sturgeon. (back)
2. The northern squawfish, Ptychocheilus oregonensis, a new species. Cutright (LCPN), 426. (back)
3. Black-billed magpie, Pica pica [AOU, 475]. Burroughs, 247. Vertical lines run through these sentences about the magpie, perhaps Biddle's marking. (back)
4. In the area of present McNary Dam, and Plymouth, Benton County, Washington. Atlas map 75. (back)
5. Wild hyacinth, Triteleia grandiflora Lindl. (also called Brodiaea douglasii Wats., and B. grandiflora Pursh), a new discovery. Although Lewis specifically mentions collecting the hyacinth this day, the botanical note for the existing specimen gives the date April 20. Hitchcock et al., 1:763; Welsh et al., 809; Cutright (LCPN), 288–89, 405. It was probably Biddle who marked a vertical line through this passage about the myacinth. (back)
6. Probably the sketch referred to in more detail on April 20, 1806. (back)
7. Probably meaning ermine, and presumably the long-tailed weasel, Mustela frenata. (back)
8. Joseph Field and Shields were apparently among the hunters, as indicated by Lewis. (back)