July 23, 1806
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July 23, 1806


I dispatched Drewyer an Joseph fields this morning to hunt. I directed Drewyer who went up the river to observe it's bearings and the point at which it entered the mountains, this he did and on his return I observed the point at which the river entered to bear S 50° W. distant about ten miles the river making a considerable bend to the West just above us. both these hunters returned unsuccessful and reported that there was no game nor the appearance of any in this quarter.    we now rendered the grease from our tainted meat and made some mush of cows with a part of it, reserving as much meal of cows and grease as would afford us one more meal tomorrow. Drewyer informed us that there was an indian camp of eleven leather lodges which appeared to have been abandoned about 10 days, the poles only of the lodges remained.    we are confident that these are the Minnetares of fort de prarie and suspect that they are probably at this time somewhere on the main branch of Maria's river on the borders of the buffaloe, under this impression I shall not strike that river on my return untill about the mouth of the North branch. [1]    near this place I observe a number of the whistleing squirrel of the speceis common to the plains and country watered by the Columbia river, this is the first instance in which I have found this squirrel in the plains of the Missouri. [2]    the Cottonwood of this place is also of the speceis common to the Columbia. [3]    we have a delightfull pasture for our horses where we are.

     Observed Meridian Altd. of ☉'s L. L. with Octant by the } 62° 00' 00"
back observation—
Latitude deduced from this observation [blank]    
observed equal altitudes of the Sun with the Sextant.    
  h m s              
A. M. 7 40 57   P.M. 4 32 40 } Altd. of ☉
56° 8' 45"
  " 42 30     " 33 13
  " 43   5     " 34 43

The clouds obscured the moon and put an end to further observation.    the rok which makes its appearance on this part of the river is of a white colour fine grit and makes excellet whetstones; it lies in horizontal stratas and makes it's appearance in the bluffs of the river near their base. [4]    we indeavoured to take some fish but took only one small trout. [5] Musquetoes uncommonly large and reather troublesome.


last night the wolves or dogs came into our Camp and eat most of our dryed meat which was on a scaffold    Labeech went out early agreeable to my directions of last evening. Sergt. Pryor and Windser also went out. Sgt. pryor found an Indian Mockerson and a Small piece of a roab, the mockerson worn out on the bottom & yet wet, and have every appearance of haveing been worn but a fiew hours before.    those Indian Signs is Conclusive with me that they have taken the 24 horses which we lost on the night of the 20th instant, and that those who were about last night were in Serch of the ballance of our horses which they could not find as they had fortunately got into a Small Prarie Serounded with thick timber in the bottom. Labeech returned haveing taken a great Circle and informed me that he Saw the tracks of the horses makeing off into the open plains and were by the tracks going very fast. The Indians who took the horses bent their course reather down the river.    the men finished both Canoes by 12 oClock to day, and I sent them to make Oars & get poles after which I sent Shields and Labeech to kill a fat Buffalow out of a gangue which has been in a fiew miles of us all day. I gave Sergt Pryor his instructions [6] and a letter to Mr. Haney [7] and directed that he G. Shannon & Windser take the remaining horses to the Mandans, where he is to enquire for Mr. H. Heney if at the establishments on the Assinniboin river [8] to take 12 or 14 horses and proceed on to that place and deliver Mr. Heney the letter which is with a view to engage Mr. Heney to provale on some of the best informed and most influential Chiefs of the different bands of Sieoux to accompany us to the Seat of our Government with a view to let them See our population and resources &c.    which I believe is the Surest garentee of Savage fidelity to any nation that of a Governmt. possessing the power of punishing promptly every aggression. Sergt. Pryor is directed to leave the ballance of the horses with the grand Chief of the Mandans untill our arival at his village    also to keep a journal of the of his rout courses distances water courss Soil production, & animals to be particularly noted. [9] Shields and Labeech killed three buffalow two of them very fat    I had as much of the meat Saved as we could Conveniently Carry.    in the evening had the two Canoes put into the water and lashed together    ores and everything fixed ready to Set out early in the morning, at which time I have derected Sergt. Pryor to Set out with the horses and proceed on to the enterance of the big horn river [NB: which we suppose to be at no great distance] [10] at which place the Canoes will meat him an Set him across the Rochejhone below the enterance of that river.


Children. The Great Spirit has given a fair and bright day for us to meet together in his View that he may inspect us in this all we say and do.

Children    I take you all by the hand as the children of your Great father the President of the U. States of America who is the great chief of all the white people towards the riseing sun.

Children    This Great Chief who is Benevolent, just, wise & bountifull has sent me and one other of his chiefs (who is at this time in the country of the Blackfoot Indians) to all his read children on the Missourei and its waters quite to the great lake of the West where the land ends and the sun sets on the face of the great water, to know their wants and inform him of them on our return.

Children    We have been to the great lake of the west and are now on our return to my country. I have seen all my read children quite to that great lake and talked with them, and taken them by the hand in the name of their great father the great Chief of all the white people.

Children    We did not see the [blank] or the nations to the North. I have [come] across over high mountains and bad road to this river to see the [blank]

Natn. I have come down the river from the foot of the great snowey mountain to see you, and have looked in every derection for you, without seeing you untill now

Children    I heard from some of your people [blank] nights past by my horses who complained to me of your people haveing taken 4 [24] of their cummerads.

Children    The object of my comeing to see you is not to do you injurey but to do you good the Great Chief of all the white people who has more goods at his command than could be piled up in the circle of your camp, wishing that all his read children should be happy has sent me here to know your wants that he may supply them.

Children    Your great father the Chief of the white people intends to build a house and fill it with such things as you may want and exchange with you for your skins & furs at a very low price.    & has derected me [to] enquire of you, at what place would be most convenient for to build this house.    and what articles you are in want of that he might send them imediately on my return

Children    The people in my country is like the grass in your plains noumerous    they are also rich and bountifull.    and love their read brethren who inhabit the waters of the Missoure

Children    I have been out from my country two winters, I am pore necked and nothing to keep of the rain.    when I set out from my country I had a plenty but have given it all to my read children whome I have seen on my way to the Great Lake of the West.    and have now nothing.

Children    Your Great father will be very sorry to here of the [blank] stealing the horses of his Chiefs wariors whome he sent out to do good to his red children on the waters of Missoure.

[two lines illegible] their ears to his good counsels he will shut them and not let any goods & guns be brought to the red people.    but to those who open their Ears to his counsels he will send every thing they want into their country. and build a house where they may come to and be supplyed whenever they wish.

Children    Your Great father the Chief of all the white people has derected me to inform his red children to be at peace with each other, and the white people who may come into your country under the protection of the Flag of your great father which you.    those people who may visit you under the protection of that flag are good people and will do you no harm

Children    Your great father has derected me to tell you not to suffer your young and thoughtless men to take the horses or property of your neighbours or the white people, but to trade with them fairly and honestly, as those of his red children below.

Children    The red children of your great father who live near him and have opened their ears to his counsels are rich and hapy have plenty of horses cows & Hogs fowls bread &c. &c. live in good houses, and sleep sound.    and all those of his red children who inhabit the waters of the Missouri who open their ears to what I say and follow the counsels of their great father the President of the United States, will in a fiew years be a[s] hapy as those mentioned &c.

Children    It is the wish of your Great father the Chief of all the white people that some 2 of the principal Chiefs of this [blank] Nation should Visit him at his great city and receive from his own mouth.    his good counsels, and from his own hands his abundant gifts, Those of his red children who visit him do not return with empty hands, he send them to their nation loaded with presents

Children    If any one two or 3 of your great chiefs wishes to visit your great father and will go with me, he will send you back next Summer loaded with presents and some goods for the nation. You will then see with your own eyes and here with your own years what the white people can do for you.    they do not speak with two tongues nor promis what they can't perform

Children    Consult together and give me an answer as soon as possible your great father is anxious to here from (& see his red children who wish to visit him)    I cannot stay but must proceed on & inform him &c.


Wednesday 23rd July 1806.    a hard Shower of rain hail and wind last evening.    we geered up the 4 horses and Set out with 2 Canoes one large & one Small one    the truck wheels which bore the large canoe broke down often and troubled us much. Wiser cut his leg with a knife So that he is unable to walk & is a bad wound    Collins went on to willow Creek [12] to kill Some fresh meat for us.    with much difficulty we got the 2 canoes & considerable of baggage to willow Creek about Sunset and Camped. Collins had killed three buffaloe. Some of the other hunters killed another fat one this evening.


Wednesday 23rd.    There was a plesant morning after the rain; and I went with the man who came with me last night, and joined the party at the river. They had repaired the waggons, and put on two more canoes; one of which was very large and gave us a great deal of trouble, as we could not make axletrees out of the willow that would stand more than six or eight miles. At 5 o'clock we got to Willow creek, and encamped for the night; and made a new axletree. In our way to day, one of the men [13] cut his leg very bad with a knife, which so lamed him that he had to ride in one of the canoes.

1. The junction of Cut Bank Creek and Two Medicine River. (back)
2. Columbian ground squirrel. Burroughs, 99–101, 322 n. 8. (back)
3. Lewis recognizes that black cottonwood, the only cottonwood west of the Continental Divide, continues east along the eastern Rocky Mountain foothills of north-central Montana. See also July 26, 1806. Barkley, 562; Little (CIH), 153-W. (back)
4. Lewis camped near the contact between two Upper Cretaceous formations, the Horsethief Sandstone and the St. Marys River Formation; both of these formations show distinct layering. The rock that Lewis thought would make excellent whetstones is likely one of the fine-grained sandstones in the Horsethief Sandstone. (back)
5. Perhaps cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki (formerly Salmo clarkii). (back)
6. See Clark to Nathaniel Pryor, July 25 [23], 1806, Jackson (LLC), 1:313–14. (back)
7. Hugh Heney, the North West Company trader whom the captains met at Fort Mandan; see December 16, 1804. For Clark's message to him now, see Clark to Heney, July 20, 1806, Jackson (LLC), 1:309–13. (back)
8. The North West Company posts at Assiniboine House or Montagne à la Bosse, on the Assiniboine River in Manitoba. See entry at May 14, 1804. (back)
9. No journal by Pryor is known; see Appendix B. Atlas maps 116 and 117 show his route as a dotted line, perhaps based on information after Pryor rejoined Clark on August 8, 1806, or on his hypothetical journal. (back)
10. The mouth of the Bighorn River, on the Treasure-Big Horn county line, Montana, was some ninety miles below Clark's camp of July 19–24, 1806, in Stillwater County, Montana. For Clark's confusion of the Bighhorn with Clarks Fork Yellowstone River, see July 24, 1806. (back)
11. This speech appears on two sheets in the Voorhis Collection. Clark obviously prepared it while he still expected to meet the Crows on the Yellowstone. The reference to the theft of his horses (see July 21, 1806) places its composition at this canoe-making camp or later. (back)
12. Box Elder Creek, Cascade County, Montana, some seven miles east of the city of Great Falls. (back)
13. Weiser, says Ordway. (back)