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Title: Early Western Travels 1748-1846, Volume XV
Author: Various
Language: English
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Early Western Travels


Volume XV

  Early Western Travels


  A Series of Annotated Reprints of some of the best
  and rarest contemporary volumes of travel, descriptive
  of the Aborigines and Social and
  Economic Conditions in the Middle
  and Far West, during the Period
  of Early American Settlement

  Edited with Notes, Introductions, Index, etc., by

  Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D.

  Editor of "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents," "Original
  Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition," "Hennepin's
  New Discovery," etc.

  Volume XV

  Part II of James's Account of S. H. Long's Expedition


  Cleveland, Ohio
  The Arthur H. Clark Company



  The Lakeside Press


  CHAPTER I [XI of Vol. I, original ed.]—Further Account
  of the Omawhaws. Of their Marriages. Of Infancy,
  and the Relationship of Parents and Children. Their
  Old Age                                                           11

  CHAPTER II [XII of Vol. I]—Diseases. Medical and Surgical
  Knowledge. Drunkenness, and other Vices. Ideas
  of God, and of a Future State. Superstition, and Practice
  of the Magi. Expiatory Tortures                                   42

  CHAPTER III [I of Vol. II]—Death. Mourning for the
  deceased. Physical Character. Senses. Manufactures
  and Arts. Domestic and Warlike Implements. War                    66

  CHAPTER IV [II of Vol. II]—War. Negociation for Peace.
  Revenge. Self-esteem. Hospitality. Mimicry                        87

  CHAPTER V [III of Vol. II]—Tribes and Bands. Fabulous
  Legends. Wit. Ninnegahe, or mixed Tobacco.
  Dances. Otoes. Migrations. Language                              115

  CHAPTER VI [IV of Vol. II]—Boyer's Creek. Visit to
  the Pawnees. Human Sacrifices. Anecdote of Petalesharoo.
  Appendix                                                         136

  CHAPTER VII [V of Vol. II]—Journey by Land from St.
  Louis to Council Bluff. Grand River. Plains at the
  sources of the Little Platte, the Nishnebottona, &c. Departure
  of the Expedition from Engineer Cantonment                       165

  CHAPTER VIII [VI of Vol. II]—The Platte. Desert
  Plains. Mirage. Arrival at the Rocky Mountains                   230

  CHAPTER IX [VII of Vol. II]—Sandstone Formation at
  the Base of the Rocky Mountains. The Platte within the
  Mountains. Granitic Mountains between the Platte
  and Arkansa. Castle Rock. Birds. Plants                          286

  APPENDIX A [Vol. I]                                              317

  APPENDIX B [Vol. I]                                              329

  APPENDIX C [Vol. I]                                              347


  "Distant View of the Rocky Mountains"                            269

  "View of the Chasm through which the Platte issues from the
  Rocky Mountains"                                                 283

  EXPEDITION, 1819—1820

  Reprinted from Volumes I and II of London edition, 1823



{209} CHAPTER I {XI}[1]

    Further Account of the Omawhaws—Of their Marriages—Of Infancy,
    and the Relationship of Parents and Children—Their Old Age.

[1] Chapter xi of volume i of the original London edition.—ED.

IN the Omawhaw nation, numbers of the females are betrothed in marriage
from their infancy; and as polygamy is extremely common, the individual
who weds the eldest daughter, espouses all the sisters successively,
and receives them into his house when they arrive at a proper age.

During her early youth, the daughter continues under the controul of
her parents, with whom she resides, and donations are occasionally
made to her by the lover, which are received by the parents, and
appropriated to their own use, if the addresses of the individual
are favourably received; but should an alliance with him, or with
his family not to be desirable, his presents are rejected, and the
application is not renewed.

Between the age of nine and twelve years, the young wife is
occasionally an invited visitant at the lodge of her husband, in order
that she may become familiarized with his company and his bed. But her
permanent residence is still at the house of her parents, where she
continues until the age of thirteen or fourteen, when the parents give
notice to their son-in-law, that their daughter is of sufficient age
to partake of his bed. The husband then receives his bride without any
formality, and leaving his other wives at home, departs with her upon a
journey of a few days, during which time the marriage is consummated.
On their return, the young wife again dwells in the lodge of her
parents, occasionally {210} visited by her husband, until a general
hunt calls the nation from the village.

During this hunt the husband again takes possession of his bride, whose
parents constantly pitch their lodge near that of the son-in-law.

The husband, previously to introducing his new wife to his lodge,
endeavours to obtain the consent of his other wives; for this purpose
he speaks kindly to them, states the necessity of providing them with a
helpmate to alleviate their burthens, and thus succeeds in his wishes.

The new matrimonial alliance is at first productive of no discord in
the family; but at length the decided partiality, displayed by the
husband in favour of his recent acquisition, engenders much jealousy
in the minds of his elder wives. Quarrels often succeed, which are
sometimes terminated by the natural weapons of the wives, who, after
the liberal use of their voluble tongues, apply for more strenuous
aid to the agency of their teeth and nails, or to the somewhat more
formidable array of tomahawks, clubs, and missiles.

During combats of this nature, the husband remains perfectly neutral,
sitting with his robe drawn over his head. Should the wives succeed in
expelling the recent intruder, who takes refuge in the house of her
parents, the husband endeavours to soothe their anger, and to point out
to them the impropriety of their conduct.

A lecture of this description, to women elated with victory, is not
always received in the same conciliatory disposition with that which
dictated the advice; but sometimes results in another quarrel, which
is terminated by the administration of a few blows on the persons of
his refractory squaws. These will then depart from his lodge, declaring
their determination to live with him no longer; a resolution which,
however, fails with their anger, and they seek a reconciliation. Their
friends apply to the husband in {211} their favour, and are informed
that he was angry when he flogged them, and that he is now sorry for
it. Thus matters are with but little difficulty adjusted; the wives
return home, and are harangued by the husband, after which they proceed
harmoniously together in their domestic employments, until some new
feud arises to disturb the repose of the family.

On the general hunting expeditions, in which the nation separates into
distinct bands, the husband takes with him his favourite wife, whilst
the others accompany the bands in which are their parents. Sometimes,
during a temporary encampment, the husband leaves his favourite for
a few days, on pretence of business, in order to visit one of his
wives in another band. On his return, he perceives the brow of his
favourite to lower with evident displeasure; if his dog approaches
her, she knocks him over with a club, and her child is repulsed with
violence from her side; she kicks the fire about, pulls about the bed,
and exhibits other signs of anger. The husband affects not to notice
her inquietude, but suffers her to proceed in her own way, until the
violence of her anger appears to be in some measure dissipated; he will
then, perhaps, venture to request her to repair his mockasins for the
morrow's hunt. "Take them to your dear wife in the other band," will
most probably be the reply to his solicitation.

Such is sometimes the violence of the displeasure of his squaw,
that he is obliged, through prudential motives, to take refuge in a
neighbouring lodge, where he solaces himself with the pipe, until he
supposes there is no longer danger of being provoked beyond endurance,
so as to be tempted to chastise her; a discipline which she seems
rather to solicit than avoid, that she may have a sufficient excuse
for wreaking her vengeance on her rival, and for giving free vent to
her sentiments and opinions upon her husband, in language of the most
superlatively indecent and opprobrious nature.

{212} When he retires to repose, he invites her to his bed, but
receives a positive refusal: she rolls herself in her covering alone;
but generally, during the night, she becomes pacific, and a negociation
ensues, which restores harmony between them.

The far greater portion of their matrimonial quarrels arise from
jealousy, though many affect to treat this passion with ridicule, or
with indifference.

"Were you ever jealous?" said Sans Oreille,[2] an Oto chief, to Mr.
Dougherty; "I was once fool enough to be jealous, but the passion did
not long torment me; I recollected that women are often alone, their
husband being necessarily often absent a hunting, and even when the
husband is at home, the squaw is under the necessity of going to a
distance for the purpose of bringing water, or collecting wood, when
frequent opportunities occur of being unobserved in the company of
other men; and I am not so silly as to believe that a woman would
reject a timely offer. Even this squaw of mine, who sits by my side,
would, I have no doubt, kindly accede to the opportune solicitations of
a young, handsome, and brave suitor." His squaw laughed heartily, but
did not affect to repel the imputation.

[2] French for "earless." An Osage chief of this name who had been to
Washington, returned to his tribe in Pike's company in 1806. See Coues,
_Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike_, index.—ED.

Many husbands will take no cognizance whatever of the breach of
conjugal fidelity on the part of the wife; and the offer of one of
their wives for company during the night, though it might call upon
our politeness for a return of thanks, was no cause of surprise to us
during our stay at their villages.[3]

[3] This national trait of extreme hospitality, with respect to the
disposal of the wife, is common to many nations in the various parts
of the world; as amongst the African negroes, and the Laplanders; and,
agreeably to the records of history, amongst the Romans, Spartans, and

A husband of a different temperament of mind, on detecting his wife
in an adulterous act, will rarely endeavour to maim her paramour, or
otherwise seriously injure him by killing his horses or dogs; but {213}
his attention will be chiefly or exclusively directed to his wife, whom
he punishes by cutting off her hair, rarely her ears or nose; sometimes
he resorts to a different punishment, and scarifies her face and head
with his knife, after which she is repudiated, and becomes a common

An inexorable man, thus circumstanced, has been known to abandon his
frail partner, after subjecting her to a punishment very similar to
that inflicted on the incontinent Roman matron, under the authority of
the Emperors.[4]

[4] The allusion is indefinite. In the reign of Augustus a law was
enacted under which conviction for this offense was liable to be
followed by confiscation and banishment; as habitual prostitution was
not so punished, Roman matrons often chose public shame to avoid the
penalties of the law. A law of Justinian made the adultery of a wife
punishable by whipping and confinement in a convent during life, unless
the husband remitted the confinement within two years. See Dorsey,
"Omaha Sociology," in Bureau of Ethnology _Report_, 1881-82, p. 364.—ED.

Mr. Dougherty, being in Ong-pa-ton-ga's lodge, heard the loud voice
of supplication from an unhappy father, whose daughter had been
recently taken in adultery by her husband. "O, great Ong-pa-ton-ga!"
said he, "whose nose is like that of a mule, and who art greater than
the Wahconda himself, condescend to intercede for my daughter with
her cruel husband; do not permit her face to be disfigured, her nose
to be cut off, or the disgrace of the punishment of the prairie to be
inflicted upon her."

A _brave_, who detected his wife in the commission of adultery, offered
her no indignity, but immediately transferred her to the object of her
preference, and accompanied the gift with a horse, and sundry articles
of merchandize.

Even a very remote degree of consanguinity is an insuperable barrier to
the marriage union. This state on the part of the man, seems to be the
result of love for the woman; on that of the squaw, of convenience, or
acquiescence in the will of her parents. On some occasions, however, an
Indian marries through ambitious motives; he is, for instance, aspiring
to the acquisition of a particular dignity; he will then endeavour to
quiet the opposition of some powerful individual, by intermarrying in
his family.

Their connubial attachments are often very strong. {214} An Omawhaw
and his squaw, on a solitary hunting expedition, were discovered at
a distance from their temporary lodge, by a Sioux war-party. They
endeavoured to escape from the enemy, but the squaw was soon overtaken,
struck to the ground, and subjected to the terrible operation of
scalping. The husband, although at this time beyond the reach of
the balls and arrows of the Sioux, seeing his squaw in their hands,
immediately turned upon them, and drawing his knife, the only weapon
he had, furiously rushed amongst them, in order to revenge the death
of his squaw, even with the inevitable sacrifice of his own life; but
he was almost immediately despatched, without having accomplished his
heroic purpose.

In the young squaw, the catamenia, and consequent capability for
child-bearing, we were informed, takes place about the twelfth or
thirteenth year, and the capacity to bear children seems to cease about
the fortieth year; but as superstitious notions prevent these Indians
from taking any note of their ages, these periods are stated with some

When the married squaw perceives that the catamenia does not recur
at the expected period, she attaches a small leathern string to
her girdle, and ties a knot in it, to note the incipient state of
pregnancy, and another knot is added at termination of each successive
moon, as a register of its progress.

When the squaw perceives the approach of this depurating process, she
retires from her family, and erects a little shelter of bark or grass,
supported by sticks, properly arranged, where she makes a fire, and
cooks her victuals alone. She is thus compelled by custom to absent
herself until the expiration of four days, when she returns to her
lodge. During this time she must not approach or touch a horse, as the
{215} Indians believe that such contamination would impoverish that
animal. They sometimes retire, and build their little shelter under a
false pretext, when the real object is to favour the approach of some
esteemed lover, to whom the vigilance of the husband has denied any
other means of obtaining a stolen interview.

The squaw has no need of propitiating the goddess Manageneta,[5] but
during pregnancy continues her usual avocations, and even in its most
advanced stage, she neither bears a lighter burden on her back, nor
walks a shorter distance in a day, than she otherwise would; neither
does she expose herself the less on that account to the inclemencies of
the weather.

[5] Mana Genita, or Genita Mana, in ancient Italian mythology the
goddess who presided at the birth and death of human beings.—ED.

If, on a march, a pregnant woman feels the pains of parturition, she
retires to the bushes, throws the burden from her back, and, without
any aid, brings her infant into the world. After washing in water,
if at hand, or in melted snow, both herself and the infant, she
immediately replaces the burden upon her back, weighing, perhaps,
between sixty and an hundred pounds, secures her child upon the top
of it, protected from the cold by an envelop of bison robe, and then
hurries on to overtake her companions.

It is only at the delivery of the first child that any difficulty is
ever anticipated; and, on this occasion, as there are no professed
midwives, the young wife calls in some friendly matron to assist in
case of need. The aid which these temporary midwives afford, seems to
be limited to the practice of tying a belt firmly about the waist of
the patient, and shaking her, generally in a vertical direction, with
considerable violence. In order to facilitate the birth, a vegetable
decoction is sometimes administered; and the rattle of the rattle-snake
is also given with, it is said, considerable effect. The singular
appendages of this animal are bruised by pounding, or comminuted by
{216} friction between the hands, mixed with warm water; and about the
quantity of two segments constitutes a dose.

The art of _turning_ does not appear to be known, neither is
blood-letting practised in their obstetrics. We heard of no case of
retention of the placenta after parturition, nor of the affection of
longing, or of nausea of the stomach during pregnancy.

On the delivery of her first child, the young mother, who appears to
be but little enfeebled by the process, arises almost immediately,
and attends to the ordinary housework; but she does not, in general,
undergo any laborious occupation, such as cutting and carrying wood,
until the lapse of two or three days. The second child is brought forth
without difficulty, and the parent, after bathing, ties it to a board,
after their usual manner, then proceeds with her daily work, as if
nothing extraordinary had occurred.

Mammary abscess is very rare; a squaw of the Sioux nation died with
this complaint.

Sterility, although it does occur, is not frequent, and seems to
be mostly attributable to the husband, as is evinced by subsequent
marriages of the squaws.

The usual number of children may be stated at from four to six in a
family, but in some families are ten or twelve. Of these the mother has
often two at the breast simultaneously, of which one may be three years
of age. At this age, however, and sometimes rather earlier, the child
is weaned by the aid of ridicule, in which the parents are assisted by

The catalogue of the diseases, of both children and adults, probably
bears a similar proportion to that of the white people, and is far
less extensive and appalling. The summer complaint, so destructive
to children in our region, appears to be uncommon with the Omawhaw
infants; but, during their first year, they suffer more from
constipation of the bowels {217} than from any other complaint, but
which is occasionally remedied by passing a small piece of soap (which
is obtained from the traders,) cut into the proper shape, into the

Dentition seems to be productive of no great distress; the gums are
never cut, but the teeth are permitted to force their way through. The
shedding of the teeth is also accomplished without much difficulty; the
milk-teeth, being forced out by the permanent ones, either fall from
the mouth, or are gently extracted by the fingers of the parent.

Monstrous births sometimes occur, though rarely; and it is not known
that infants are ever destroyed by their parents in consequence of
deformity, unless the degree of malformation is excessive. The Indians
mention two monsters which were born in their village; one of these
they represent as resembling a white bear, and the other a cray-fish;
they were both destroyed. The husband of the squaw, who gave birth to
the former, said that she must have had connection with a white bear;
but she asserted that the production of the monster was occasioned by
a fright, which she received at seeing her husband suddenly, whilst he
was personating that animal both in dress and gesture.

The magi affect to converse with the fœtus in utero, when the mother
perceives it to be uneasy; they also sometimes venture to predict its

Abortion is effected, agreeably to the assertions of the squaws, by
blows with the clenched hand, applied upon the abdomen, or by repeated
and violent pressure upon that part, or by rolling on the stump of a
tree, or other hard body. The pregnant squaw is induced thus to procure
abortion, in consequence of the jealousy of her husband, or in order to
conceal her illicit amours, to which all the married squaws, with but
few exceptions, are addicted.

The infant, when recently born, is of a reddish-brown colour; but in
a short time it becomes whitish, {218} though never so pure a white
as that of the children of white people. The change to the national
complexion is then gradual, and independent of exposure; inasmuch as
those parts of their bodies, which are perpetually concealed from the
light, change simultaneously with the face.

The abdomen of the children protrudes very considerably; and the sole
article of dress, which the younger boys wear during the warm season,
is a small belt of cloth around the middle of the abdomen, leaving
every other part of the body perfectly naked. In wintry weather they
have the addition of leggings, mockasins, and a small robe.

The female children are furnished with a short piece of cloth, in
imitation of a petticoat, but destitute of a seam, belted round the
loins, and depending as low as the knees. Their hair, when dressed, is
parted longitudinally on the top of the head, and collected on each
side behind the ear, into a vertical cylindric form, of the length of
five or six inches, decorated with silver and brass rings and ribands;
the line of separation of the hair is coloured with vermilion.

This disposition of the hair into two rolls is generally observed
in the girls, and is often continued one or two years after their
residence with a husband.

The girl is kept in a state of considerable subjection; she habitually
conforms to all the commands of the mother, and is obliged to assist
her in her ordinary occupations; if she is refractory, she receives a
blow upon the head or back from the hand of the mother, but hardly ever
from the father. At the age of four or five years, she is taught the
use of the _hoppas_, and is gradually familiarised to carry burdens.
They are trained up to industry, and are taught to cut wood, to
cultivate maize, to perform the scalp dance, and are early informed
of the sexual relations of men and women, and warned against the arts
which will be aimed at the subjugation of their virtue.

{219} The experienced parent, however, in addition to these salutary
counsels, keeps a vigilant eye to the deportment of her unmarried
daughter, and so sedulously guards her steps, that the arts of
seduction, notwithstanding the free use of the licentiousness of
language, appear to be more rarely triumphant over the Omawhaw maid,
than over the civilized fair.

Hence a prostitute, who has never been married, is of exceedingly rare
occurrence. Yet, notwithstanding the vigilance of the parent, the
daughter sometimes elopes with a favoured lover, but not until she has
ascertained that his intentions are perfectly honourable.

The girl displays the most affectionate regard for her parents, and
grand parents.

Whilst the deportment of the sister is thus trenched and guarded, the
brother roams at large, almost uncontrolled. Should his conduct be at
any time flagrantly outrageous, he will, perhaps, in the anger of his
parents, receive a harsh reproof; but an ill-judged affection soon
prompts them to assuage his grief, and dry his tears, by presents and
soothing expressions. At a very early age he is furnished with a bow
and arrows, with the use of which he delights to employ himself, that
he may be qualified for a hunter and warrior.

From the age of about five years to that of ten or twelve, custom
obliges the boy to ascend to a hill-top, or other elevated position,
fasting, that he may cry aloud to the Wahconda. At the proper season,
his mother reminds him that "the ice is breaking up in the river, the
ducks and geese are migrating, and it is time for you to prepare to go
in clay." He then rubs his person over with a whitish clay, and is sent
off to the hill-top at sunrise, previously instructed by his mother
what to say, and how to demean himself in the presence of the Master of
life. From this elevation he cries out to the great Wahconda, humming a
melancholy tune, and calling on him to have pity on him, and make him a
great hunter, {220} horse-stealer, and warrior. This is repeated once
or twice a week, during the months of March and April.

It is only when his pride is concerned, that the boy is obedient to the
injunctions of his parents; on other occasions he disregards them, or
replies only with ridicule. A boy in anger discharged an arrow at his
mother, which penetrated her thigh; when, instead of chastising him
for the act, she applauded his spirit, declaring him to be a gallant
fellow, the early promise of a great warrior. But though he does not
scruple thus to insult his parents, he would unhesitatingly revenge an
indignity offered them by another.

He soon becomes ambitious of martial distinction, in consequence of
frequently hearing the old warriors narrate their feats of arms, and
eagerly anticipates the age which will justify his enrolling himself in
the ranks of a war-party.

At the age of twelve or thirteen, having received every instruction
respecting their mode of warfare, his wishes are gratified, and he is
accepted as a volunteer in the path of honour.

As an instance of high chivalric ideas sometimes instilled into the
mind of the Indian, which in some cases almost supersede the feelings
of nature, and which are eminently calculated to excite a degree of
enthusiasm in the youthful warrior, the following anecdote may be

The Osage nation a few years since marched to attack the Konza village.
They encamped unobserved at a moderate distance from the village, and
despatched two of their warriors with pipes to the Konzas to invite all
their chiefs to a pretended peace conference, and to inform them that
presents of horses and merchandize would be made to them, to compensate
for two individuals of their nation whom the Osages had killed.

The Konzas, suspecting the treachery intended, {221} at first proposed
to put the messengers to death, but on further consideration, supposing
them sincere, the chiefs determined to accompany them. On the following
morning, however, when they were about to set out for the Osage camp,
a chief arose and harangued them, stating that he had had a dream in
the night, from the interpretation of which, he was confident that the
Wahconda was averse to their proposed visit.

This information deterred all from going, with the exception of two,
who mounted their horses and followed the messenger, saying, that
whatever might be the event, the Osages should not be led to believe
that every individual of the nation was afraid to rely upon their faith.

They were, however, soon undeceived. The enemy, who had placed
themselves in ambuscade on each side of the path at a suitable
position, fired on the Konzas, one of whom was killed, and the other
escaped to his people.

The Osages, who had hoped by this ruse de guerre to slaughter all the
chiefs without any loss to themselves, finding their scheme abortive,
rushed on to attack the village.

They were met by about one half their number of Konzas, who, after an
obstinate encounter, repulsed them with considerable loss.

After the action, some one informed Son-ja-nin-ga that his son was
among the slain. "Did he die with his face to the enemy?" said the
father. "He did so," replied the other. "Then he perished nobly,"
rejoined Son-ja-nin-ga, exultingly, and "I will not lament his fall."
This resolution, however, was so much at variance with his sensibility,
that it could not long be maintained. He mounted on the top of his
lodge, and harangued his people on the subject of the martial deeds of
his son, who had already become a distinguished warrior; but when he
spoke of his {222} final scene, he was so absolutely overpowered by
grief, that he precipitated himself from his elevated situation to the
earth; receiving, however, but little injury, he immediately assumed
the state of mourning with its utmost rigours.

At the age of fourteen or fifteen, it is not uncommon for the young
Omawhaw to elope with a married woman, and fly for protection to the

The home of the young man, until he marries, is his father's house;
but after he thus changes his condition, he repairs to the house of
his father-in-law, until the birth of the first child, when he returns
with his little family to his father's dwelling, where he continues to
reside. On national hunts he provides a separate skin lodge for his

When more advanced in age, and of some little consequence or influence
amongst the people, he unites with two or three families in the
building of a permanent dirt lodge in the village, similar to those
already described of the Konzas.

The labour of erecting this edifice devolves almost exclusively upon
the squaws. The interior is readily furnished; the indispensable
requisites being only a kettle, a wooden bowl, and a couple of horn
spoons, a few skins for a bed and covering, a pillow made of leather
stuffed with hair, and a bison's stomach, instead of a bucket, for
carrying water.

On the death of the husband, the squaws exhibit the sincerity of their
grief by giving away to their neighbours every thing they possess,
excepting only a bare sufficiency of clothing to cover their persons
with decency. They go out from the village, and build for themselves
a small shelter of grass or bark; they mortify themselves by cutting
off their hair, scarifying their skin, and, in their insulated hut,
they lament incessantly. If the deceased has left a brother, he takes
the widow to his lodge after a proper interval, and considers her as
his wife, without any {223} preparatory formality.[6] If the deceased
has not left a brother, the relations of his squaw take her to their
lodges. This lamentation and mortification, which the squaws impose
upon themselves, continue for a period of six or eight months, or even
a year.

[6] This custom is the same with that of the ancient Jews under the law
of Moses, for which we have the authority of St. Luke. "Moses wrote
unto us, if any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without
children, that his brother shall take his wife, and raise up seed unto
his brother." And Elphinstone, in his account of Caubul, informs us,
that among the Afghauns, as among the Jews, it is thought incumbent on
the brother of the deceased to marry his widow.—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ The number of Indian customs bearing a similarity to
those of the Hebrews led to the now discarded theory that the former
are descendants of the "lost ten tribes" of Israel.

Many circumstances tend to show that the squaw is susceptible of the
most tender and permanent attachment to an individual of the opposite
sex, and that on the cessation of all hope of a union with the beloved
object, the consequences have sometimes been fatal. Several instances
came to our knowledge, of a young female committing the act of suicide
after marriage with a person, in obedience to the will of her parents,
whilst her affections were devoted to another.

The maternal fondness appears also to be not less exquisite than we
perceive it to be with civilized mothers. The following anecdote may be
cited in support of this observation.

In the year 1814, a trader married a beautiful squaw of one of the
most distinguished families in the Omawhaw nation. This match, on the
part of the husband, was induced by the following circumstances. Being
an active, intelligent, and enterprising man, he had introduced the
American trade to the Missouri Indians, and had gained great influence
amongst them by his bravery and ingenuous deportment. But he at length
perceived that his influence was gradually declining in consequence of
the presence and wiles of many rival traders, to whom his enterprise
had opened the way, and that his customers were gradually forsaking him.

{224} Thus circumstanced, in order to regain the ground he had lost, he
determined to seek a matrimonial alliance with one of the most powerful
families of the Omawhaws. In pursuance of this resolution, he selected
a squaw whose family and friends were such as he desired. He addressed
himself to her parents agreeably to the Indian custom, and informed
them that he loved their daughter, that he was sorry to see her in the
state of poverty common to her nation, and although he possessed a wife
among the white people, yet he wished to have one also of the Omawhaw
nation. If they would transfer their daughter to him in marriage, he
would obligate himself to treat her kindly; and as he had commenced
a permanent trading establishment in their country, he would dwell
during a portion of the year with her, and the remainder with the white
people, as the nature of his occupation required. His establishment
should be her home, and that of her people during his life, as he
never intended to abandon the trade. In return, he expressed his
expectation, that, for this act, the nation would give him the refusal
of their peltries, in order that he might be enabled to comply with
his engagement to them. He further promised, that if the match proved
fruitful, the children should be made known to the white people, and
would probably be qualified to continue the trade after his death.

The parents replied with thanks for his liberal offers, and for
his disposition to have pity on them; they would not object to the
connection, and hoped that their daughter would accept of him as her

The parents then retired, and opened the subject to the daughter. They
assured her that her proposed husband was a great man, greater than
any of the Omawhaws; that he would do much for her and for them, and
concluded by requesting her to acquiesce in the wishes of the white
man. She replied, that all {225} they said was, without doubt, true,
and that agreeably to his request, she was willing to become his wife.

The agreement being thus concluded, the trader made presents, agreeably
to the custom of the nation, and conducted his interesting prize to his

The succeeding spring the trader departed for the settlements, leaving
her of course at his trading house.

The ensuing autumn she had the pleasure to see him return, having
now conceived for him the most tender attachment. Upon his visit the
following season, she presented him with a fine daughter, born during
his absence, and whom she had nursed with the fondest attention. With
the infant in her arms, she had daily seated herself on the bank of
the river, and followed the downward course of the stream, with her
eye, to gain the earliest notice of his approach. Thus time passed on.
The second year the father greeted a son, and obtained his squaw's
reluctant consent to take their daughter with him on his return voyage
to the country of the white people. But no sooner had he commenced
his voyage, and although she had another charge upon which to lavish
her caresses, than her maternal fondness overpowered her, and she ran
crying and screaming along the river side in pursuit of the boat,
tearing out her long flowing hair, and appearing to be almost bereft of
reason. On her return home she gave away every thing she possessed, cut
off her hair, went into deep mourning, and remained inconsolable. She
would often say that she well knew that her daughter would be better
treated than she could be at home, but she could not avoid regarding
her own situation to be the same as if the Wahconda had taken away her
offspring for ever.

One day, in company with six other squaws, she was engaged in her
agricultural labours, her infant boy being secured to his cradle-like
board, which she {226} had carefully reclined against a tree at a
short distance. They were discovered by a war-party of Sioux, who
rushed towards them, with the expectation of gratifying their vengeance
by securing all their scalps. An exclamation from her companions
directed her attention to the common enemy, and in her fright she
fled precipitately, but suddenly recollecting her child, she swiftly
returned full in the face of the Sioux, snatched her child from the
tree, and turned to save its life, more precious than her own. She
was closely pursued by one of the enemy, when she arrived at a fence
which separated her from the field of the trading house. A moment's
hesitation here would have been fatal; and, exerting all her strength,
she threw the child, with its board, as far as she could on the
opposite side.

Four of the squaws were tomahawked, and the others escaped, of which
number the mother was one, having succeeded in bearing off her child

The trader, on his arrival at the settlements, learned that his white
or civilized wife had died during his absence, and after a short
interval devoted to the usual formalities of mourning, he united his
destinies with another, and highly amiable lady. The second season
his wife accompanied him on his annual voyage up the Missouri, to his
trading house, the abode of his squaw.

Previously to his arrival, however, he dispatched a messenger to his
dependents, at the trading-house, directing them to prevent his squaw
from appearing in the presence of his wife. She was accordingly sent
off to the village of her nation, a distance of sixty or seventy miles.
But she could not long remain there, and soon returned with her little
boy on her back, and accompanied by some of her friends, she encamped
near her husband's residence. She sent her son to the trader, who
treated him affectionately. On the succeeding day the trader sent for
his squaw, and {227} after making her some presents, he directed her
to accompany her friends who were then on their way to their hunting

She departed without a murmur, as it is not unusual with the Omawhaws
to send off one of their wives, on some occasions, while they remain
with the favourite one.

About two months afterwards the trader recalled her. Overjoyed
with what she supposed to be her good fortune, she lost no time in
presenting herself before the husband whom she tenderly loved. But
great was her disappointment, when her husband demanded the surrender
of the child, and renounced for the future any association with
herself, directing her to return to her people, and to provide for her
future wellbeing in any way she might choose.

Overpowered by her feelings, on this demand and repudiation, she ran
from the house, and finding a periogue on the river shore, she paddled
over to the opposite side and made her escape into the forest with
her child. The night was cold, and attended with a fall of snow and
hail. Reflecting upon her disconsolate condition, she resolved to
return again in the morning, and with the feelings of a wife and mother
to plead her cause before the arbiter of her fate, and endeavour to
mitigate the cruel sentence.

Agreeably to this determination, she once more approached him, upon
whom she believed she had claims paramount to those of any other
individual. "Here is our child," said she: "I do not question your
fondness for him, but he is still more dear to me. You say that you
will keep him for yourself, and drive me far from you. But no, I will
remain with him; I can find some hole or corner into which I may creep,
in order to be near him and sometimes to see him. If you will not give
me food, I will, nevertheless, remain until I starve before your eyes."

The trader then offered her a considerable present, desiring her at
the same time to go, and leave the {228} child. But she said, "Is my
child a dog, that I should sell him for merchandize? You cannot drive
me away; you may beat me, it is true, and otherwise abuse me, but I
will still remain. When you married me, you promised to use me kindly
as long as I should be faithful to you; that I have been so, no one
can deny. Ours was not a marriage contracted for a season, it was to
terminate only with our lives. I was then a young girl, and might have
been united to an Omawhaw chief; but I am now an old woman, having
had two children, and what Omawhaw will regard me? Is not my right
paramount to that of your other wife; she had heard of me before you
possessed her. It is true her skin is whiter than mine, but her heart
cannot be more pure towards you, nor her fidelity more rigid. Do not
take the child from my breast, I cannot bear to _hear_ it cry, and not
be present to relieve it;[7] permit me to retain it until the spring,
when it will be able to eat, and then, if it must be so, take it from
my sight, that I may part with it but once."

[7] A mode of expression common to the Indians, who are in the habit of
communicating their ideas by allusions to the senses.—JAMES.

Seeing her thus inflexible, the trader informed her that she might
remain there if she pleased, but that the child should be immediately
sent down to the settlements.

The affectionate mother had thus far sustained herself during the
interview with the firmness of conscious virtue, and successfully
resisted the impulse of her feelings; but nature now yielded, the tears
coursed rapidly over her cheeks, and clasping her hands, and bowing
her head, she burst into an agony of grief, exclaiming, "Why did the
Wahconda hate me so much, as to induce me to put my child again into
your power?"

The feelings of the unhappy mother were, however, soon relieved. Mr.
Dougherty communicated {229} the circumstances of the case to Major
O'Fallon, who immediately and peremptorily ordered the restoration
of the child to its mother, and informed the trader that any future
attempt to wrest it from her should be at his peril.

As in civilized communities, so amongst the Indians, quarrels sometimes
occur. There being no legal tribunal to appeal to, amongst the Missouri
Indians, individuals often terminate their animosity by resorting to
arms, and relying upon their own valour or address. This extremity is,
however, sometimes obviated, by the soothing interference of relatives
and friends, or by the violent interposition of a warrior.

Pugilism they despise, regarding it entirely beneath the dignity, even
of an ordinary man, saying that it is only fit for the decision of the
quarrels of children and squaws, and that when a man is called upon to
decide a question by force, he ought to resort to the aid of mortal

Hard heart, chief of the Ioways, quarrelled with a trader, near the
mouth of the Platte, and challenged him immediately to single combat,
with any weapons he might choose, either agreeably to the manner of
the whites, or to the usual Indian mode, of either combatant availing
himself of opportunity or stratagem. The trader refusing to fight, Hard
heart departed, declaring he would come again in the morning, in order
to put him to death as a coward; "and," said he, "the Wahconda himself
will not be able to save you." The trader, for security, assembled
around his hut several Oto warriors as a guard, so that when the chief
returned agreeably to his promise, to execute his threat, he could not
gain admittance. After waiting a long time in vain, he at length sent
word to the trader that he forgave him and would not injure him. The
trader on receiving this information, having sufficient confidence in
his good faith, dismissed his guards; and some time {230} afterward,
we observed them riding together, on their return from the Pawnee
villages, to which they had accompanied the Oto nation.

About a twelvemonth before our arrival at Engineer Cantonment, Hashea
(the Cut-nose) and the Brave, two highly distinguished warriors of the
Oto nation, had a very serious quarrel, which their friends could not
perfectly adjust, but only succeeded in preventing a personal combat.
Since our departure for the Rocky Mountains, Major O'Fallon informs us,
that this hostility, still further aggravated by another incident, has
terminated fatally. The nephew of the Brave grossly insulted, by his
pertinacious addresses, the wife of Hashea, whilst the latter warrior
was absent on a war excursion. On his return, being informed of the
indignity offered to his wife, he sought the offender, knocked him
down with his war club, and beat him with great severity. The Brave
was summoned by his friends, who seeing the bruised condition of his
relative, vowed revenge. He provided a large sharp-pointed knife, and
throwing his bison robe over his arm, by way of shield, he sallied
out and passed twice through the village, uttering occasionally, with
a loud voice, a challenge to Hashea to come forth, and decide their
old quarrel by means of the knife. Hashea feared no man, and would
have presented himself before his old enemy at the first call, but
was prevented by some friends who were with him in his lodge; these,
however, after the lapse of a short time, he contrived to elude, and
swiftly sought the Brave. He threw down his blanket, and exclaimed,
"You and I cannot live in the same nation; the time has arrived when
one of us must die." They then closed in fight. The Brave had much
the advantage; he was a large man, and his person was effectually
protected by his robe, which received the thrusts of his adversary's
knife, whilst at every blow the weapon of the Brave was sheathed in
the naked body of the interesting Hashea. {231} The latter was soon
despatched, but as he staggered backwards under the grasp of death, he
aimed a final blow at his antagonist, and had the gratification to see
his blade enter his neck and pass far downward; at which he uttered
a shout of exultation and died. The Brave's wound was mortal, but he
lived long enough to see the features of Ietan, the friend of Hashea,
bent in sternness upon him, and to hear him lament that the conqueror
of his friend, should die without the agency of his arm. The deceased
warriors belonged to the two most powerful bands of the nation. Hashea
was a near kinsman of the Crenier, leader of one band, and the Brave
was a brother of Shongotonga, leader of the other, and principal chief
of the Otos. The consequence of the quarrel involved the whole nation,
and to avoid farther hostilities the bands separated from each other,
into distinct villages, in which situation they now remain.

The designations by which the Omawhaws distinguish their various
degrees of consanguinity are somewhat different in meaning from ours.
Children universally address their father's brother by the title of
_father_, and their mother's brother by that of _uncle_; their mother's
sister is called _mother_, and their father's sister _aunt_. The same
relative designations extend to the step-parents, relatives, and to
those of the grand-parents. The children of brothers and sisters
address each other by the titles of brother and sister. Step-parents
treat their step-children with as much kindness and attention as their
own; and a stranger in the family would not perceive any partiality
shown to the latter; indeed the natural parent exacts such a course of
conduct from the other, and a separation would probably ensue, from an
opposite course being obstinately persevered in, as a parent will on no
account suffer his or her offspring to be abused.

Natural children are generally retained by the {232} mother; but if she
is willing to part with them, or at her death, they are received into
the family of the father, where they experience the same kindness and
attention as his other children; but an Indian will consider himself
insulted, if he is told that he had no proper father or mother.

Some mothers of natural children will not permit them to visit the
father, while she can controul them; they generally remain with the
mother, and support her.

A man applies the title of We-hun-guh, or sister-in-law, to his wife's
sister, until he takes her as his wife; he also calls his wife's
brother's daughter Wehunguh, and may in like manner take her to wife:
thus the aunt and the niece marry the same man.

A man distinguishes his wife's brother by the title of Tahong, or
brother-in-law, and his son also by the same designation. He calls the
wife of his brother-in-law Cong-ha, or mother-in-law.

A woman calls her husband's brother Wish-e-a, or brother-in-law,
and speaks of his children as her own. Her husband's sister she
distinguishes by the title of relationship, Wish-e-cong, or
sister-in-law. Men who marry sisters address each other by the title
of brother. All women who marry the same individual, even though not
previously related, apply to each other the title of sister.

Remote degrees of consanguineous alliance are distinguished by their
various appellatives, and are universally acknowledged.

It is a great singularity in the manners of the Omawhaws that
neither the father-in-law nor mother-in-law will hold any direct
conversation with their son-in-law; nor will he, on any occasion, or
under any consideration, converse immediately with them, although no
ill-will exists between them; they will not, on any account, mention
each other's name in company, nor look in each other's faces; any
conversation {233} that passes between them is conducted through the
medium of some other person.

The Big Elk, Ongpatonga otherwise named Ar-re-cat-ta-wa-ho, which means
Big Elk in the Pawnee language, married the daughter of Me-chah-pa, or
the Horse-head. One day, on a visit to his wife, he entered the lodge
of her father unobserved by him, who was busily engaged in playing
with his dog, rubbing him with his hand, and frequently repeating his
name, which unfortunately happened to be the same with that of the Big
Elk in Pawnee. Mechahpa's wife, hearing her husband repeat this name
in the presence of the son-in-law, after making many winks and signs
without effect, arose from her seat and struck him violently with her
fist upon the back, exclaiming, "You old fool! have you no eyes to see
who is present? you had better jump upon his neck, (meaning that of the
Big Elk) and ride him about like a dog." "Wah!" ejaculated Mechahpa, in
surprise, at the sudden and emphatical salutation, and understanding
the meaning of the address, he ran out of the lodge in confusion.

This extraordinary formality is carried to a great length, and is very
rigidly observed. If a person enters a dwelling in which his son-in-law
is seated, the latter turns his back, covers his head with his robe,
and avails himself of the first opportunity to leave the presence. If
a person visit his wife, during her residence at the lodge of her
father, the latter averts himself, and conceals his head with his robe,
and his hospitality is extended circuitously by means of his daughter,
by whom the pipe is transferred to her husband to smoke. Communications
or queries intended for the son-in-law are addressed aloud to the
daughter, who receives the replies of her husband. The same formality
is observed by the mother-in-law; if she wishes to present him with
food, it is invariably handed to the daughter for him, or if she
happens to be absent for the moment, it is placed on {234} the ground,
and she retires from the lodge, that he may take it up and eat it. A
ten year's separation will not change this custom. The Pawnees have no
such formality, and on that account are said to be great fools.

A Frenchman, married and resident with the Omawhaws, one day
inadvertently mentioned the name of his father-in-law, in presence of
several people, who immediately declared him to be as great a fool as
a Pawnee, thus to have so little respect for his father-in-law, as to
treat him with as little ceremony as he would a dog.

The more distinguished and respectable the parties are, the more
rigidly is this rule observed; and if either of the parties should be
treated otherwise, the departure from the observance would be regarded
as a mark of disrespect for a trifling fellow.

Fraternal affection is very strong and permanent. The chief and almost
exclusive sources of infraction of this natural bias, are adultery with
each other's wives, and conflicting intrigues for the attainment of the
honour of a chieftain.

Two Omawhaw brothers had stolen a squaw from an individual of their
nation, and were on their journey to seek a refuge in the Puncaw
village. But they had the misfortune, in a large prairie, to meet
with a war-party of Sioux, their implacable enemies. They immediately
concealed themselves in a deep ravine, which at bottom was covered
with dry reed grass. The Sioux surrounded this spot, and set fire to
the windward side of the reeds, in order to drive them out. When the
conflagration had nearly reached the fugitives, one of the brothers
remarked, that the Wahconda had certainly not created him to be smoked
out like a racoon; (the Indians smoke this animal out of hollow trees
by kindling a fire at the root;) he urged his brother to attempt his
escape in one direction, whilst he would attract the attention of the
enemy, by sallying out upon them alone, and {235} endeavouring to
destroy as many of them as possible, in anticipated revenge for that
death which he considered as inevitable; "One or both of us," said he,
"must certainly be sacrificed; save yourself if you can; I will be the
victim, and may fortunately receive a death-blow in the conflict, and
thus escape the disgrace of captivity." He then rushed forth amongst
the Sioux, shot one, and with his knife wounded several before he was
dispatched. His brother availing himself of the abstracted attention
of the enemy, effected his escape, but the squaw was burned to death.
In this magnanimous self-devotion, the gallant brother exhibits an
instance of chivalric heroism which would have immortalized a Roman

The young men are generally coupled out as friends; this tie is very
strongly knit in youth, but is usually enfeebled by matrimony or the
concerns of more advanced age; yet it is sometimes as lasting as the
life of the individuals.

The Omawhaws, as we before observed, preserve no account of their
ages; they think that some evil will attend the numbering of their
years. Me-chah-pa the Horse-head, who is an intelligent medicine man,
asked one of our party, whom he was informed was an eminent medicine
man of the white people, amongst many other questions, how old he was;
he was answered, about forty-five, at which he expressed his regret
that he had lived so long in the world, and to so little purpose.

Old age amongst the Omawhaws is generally loquacious, but it does not
seem to be distinguished, as in civilized life, by an accumulation of
maladies. Aged Indians, whether male or female, generally continue in
apparent good health to the last, and the visitation of death is most
frequently sudden and unexpected; an instance of this has already been
related, which occurred to old Loutre, an individual of the Missouri

{236} They become bowed and very much wrinkled with age, and their
joints become less flexible. But their hair does not so generally
change to gray as that of men in a state of civilization. The hair
of the sides of the head, which is so frequently shorn or extracted,
often assumes the gray appearance at a comparatively early age, and is
almost universally of that tint in aged persons; whilst that of the top
and back of the head, which is always permitted to attain a moderate
length, is simply interspersed with a few grey hairs. Many aged squaws
preserve the hair of the usual youthful colour; in others we observe an
intermixture of gray, and it may be remarked that the aged of this sex
are more frequently gray-haired than the men.

We saw a middle aged woman whose hair had pretty generally changed to
gray; but this appearance at her age was so unusual, that the Indians
attributed it to her having infracted the injunctions of her medicine
by eating forbidden food.[8]

[8] Humboldt observes of the natives of New Spain, that "their head
never becomes gray. It is infinitely more rare to find an Indian than
a negro with gray hairs; and the want of a beard gives the former a
continual air of youth. The skin of Indians is also less subject to
wrinkles." In this latter character, at least, it will be perceived,
that our observations on the Missouri Indians do not coincide with
those of the Baron, respecting the natives he describes. Ulloa informs
us, that the symptoms of old age are a beard and gray hairs. But the
natives of the region of the Missouri have certainly no greater density
of beard, when advanced in age, than during their earlier years, though
it is equally certain, that owing to a neglect of personal neatness,
their beard is suffered to grow; yet, agreeably to our opportunities
of judging, its ordinary character of sparse distribution is never

_Comment by Ed._ Catlin notes the common occurrence of gray hair among
the Mandan as a peculiarity of that people; see Smithsonian _Report_,
1885, part ii, p. 82. However, it was not unknown in other tribes.

In proportion as persons of either sex approach to the state of
superannuation, the respect of their family and acquaintances is
withdrawn from them, and they are finally regarded as useless burdens
upon the community. They are subjected to the pranks and ridicule
of the young people, which, however, they seem rather to invite by
drollery, jokes, and stories, than to discourage by a repulsive

The aged men contrive to render themselves useful by assisting the
squaws in their culinary operations, and by haranguing; a service for
which their loquacity eminently qualifies them.

The aged squaws can generally assist in light employments, such as
making and mending mockasins, leggings, stringing beads, &c.; but
during the rigours of winter they are generally seated near the door
of the travelling lodge, partially defended from the cold by an old
ragged robe, and occupied with {237} the menial service of pushing up
the half-burned pieces of wood to the fire, and driving out the dogs;
in this situation they are more exposed to the weather than any other
inmate of the tenement.

Though thus neglected, the aged are not permitted to suffer from
hunger, when in the village, if food can be obtained. But when they
become helpless on a march, and the transporting of them is attended
with much difficulty, it is considered unavoidable to abandon them to
their fate; with this view a small grass shelter is erected for them,
in which some food is deposited, together with wood and water. When
thus abandoned by all that is dear to them, their fortitude does not
forsake them, and the inflexible passive courage of the Indian sustains
them against despondency. They regard themselves as entirely useless,
and as the custom of the nation has long led them to anticipate this
mode of death, they attempt not to remonstrate against the measure,
which is, in fact, frequently the consequence of their earnest

In this situation the devoted man sings his war-songs to the Wahconda,
narrating the martial exploits of his youth, and finally chaunts his

If on the return of the nation from the hunt, he is still living, his
family or friends take him with them to the village, and guard him from
want until the succeeding general expedition.


    Diseases—Medical and Surgical Knowledge—Drunkenness, and other
    Vices—Ideas of God, and of a Future State—Superstition, and
    Practice of the Magi—Expiatory Tortures.

THE Omawhaws endure sickness and pain with great fortitude; most of
them, when thus afflicted, rarely uttering a murmur. Their catalogue
of diseases, and morbid affections, is infinitely less extensive than
that of civilized men.

Rheumatism is rare, and gout appears to be unknown. No case of phthisis
or jaundice fell under our observation. King's-evil is not uncommon,
and although they have no reliance on the sanative touch of a king
or chief, yet, as their practice seems confined to an inefficacious
ablution with common water, many fall victims to the disease. Many are
also afflicted with ulcers, which sometimes terminate fatally. Decayed
teeth are rare. Plica polonica is unknown. Baldness seems to be also
unknown, the hair being always retained, however advanced the age of
the individual.

Nymphomania occurred in the person of a widow, who was thus afflicted
about two months; her symptoms were attended with an effusion of blood
from the nose. On her recovery, she attributed the disorder to the
operation of some potent mystic medicine.

Hypochondriasis seems to be unknown. Canine madness also appears to
be without an example, their dogs not having yet been visited by
the disease. [239] They are rarely afflicted with dysentery, though
children are sometimes subject to it in consequence of eating unripe
fruits, such as plums, grapes, and maize. They are never known to be
subject to the _coup de soleil_,[9] although they travel for days and
even weeks over the unsheltered prairies, without any covering whatever
for the head, which is consequently exposed to the full radiance of the
sun, both in a state of activity and quiescence. White men residing
with them, and who have partaken in their hunts, and consequent
insolation, have been visited with this distressing affection,
although their heads were protected invariably by hats or handkerchiefs.

[9] Sunstroke.—ED.

The cuticle of these Indians is not known to have been acted upon by
contact with poisonous plants, though white men travelling with them
have experienced the effects of the usual deleterious properties of
the poison vine (rhus radicans,) which is, to a certainty, abundant in
proper situations in the Missouri country. What effects would result
from the application of this plant to the only part of the body of
the Indian which is never exposed to the direct influence of external
causes, is a subject deserving of experimental inquiry.

The hare-lip sometimes occurs, but it may be properly considered as
still more rare than amongst white people.

Frosted limbs are treated by immersion in cold water, so as gradually
to restore the lost temperature of the part. The magi also perform over
them their mystic rites, amongst which the only topical application is
made by chewing some roots and blowing the fragments, and accompanying
saliva violently upon the part, with many antic capers.

Goiture and wens are not known. Fevers, and fever and ague, are
exceedingly rare. Ophthalmic diseases, and casualties affecting the
eye, are frequent. The eyes of children are sometimes injured or
destroyed by missiles, in incautious play or juvenile {240} rencontres.
But blindness is more frequently the effect of the gradual operation
of disease. The eyes become sore and the lids inflamed; white opake
maculæ, after some time, appear in the eye, which enlarge until they
cover it entirely, and prevent the ingress of light. It is probable
that they possessed no rational remedy for this evil previously to
their acquaintance with the traders, excepting the extracting of blood
from the temple by their process of cupping; the traders, however, have
taught them to remove the opacity, by blowing burnt alum into the eye
through a quill, a remedy so familiar in the veterinary art. To this
disease children as well as adults are obnoxious.

Another ophthalmia, which also results in the destruction of the
faculty of vision, commences with a superabundant secretion of the
fluid of the lachrymal duct, succeeded by inflammation of the lids; the
sight becomes gradually debilitated, until at length the pupil assumes
an opake white appearance; probably fistula lachrymalis.

Temporary blindness, which sometimes eventuates in permanent loss of
sight, occurs during the winter to incautious travellers who pass
over the prairies covered with snow, from which the solar light is so
brilliantly reflected. A party that accompanied Mr. Dougherty on a
journey, being thus exposed, became unable to distinguish objects, and
had not his sight been preserved, they might never have regained their

The blind are not neglected by their family and friends; on the
contrary, we had several opportunities of observing them to be well
clothed and fed, and much at their ease. When superannuated, however,
they are not exempted from the fate attendant on that state.

An affection, or pain in the breast, distinguished by the name of
Mong-ga-ne-a, seems to be the consequence of excessive indulgence in
tobacco, and the {241} habitual inhaling of the smoke of it into the
lungs. In their attempts to alleviate this complaint, the magi affect
to extract from the part, by suction, balls and pellets of hair, and
other extraneous substances, which they had previously concealed in
their mouths for the purpose of deceiving the patient.

An individual applied to one of our party to cure him of this pain,
but being advised to desist from the indulgence of tobacco smoking, he
appeared rather willing to bear with his disease.

They sometimes say that their liver pains them, a disorder which they
call Ta-pe-ne-a.

They are not exempt from catarrhs, the consequence of great exposure to
sudden vicissitudes of temperature; a disease similar to the influenza
is sometimes prevalent, and known by the name of Hoh-pa.

A deaf and dumb boy occurred in the Oto nation; an adult with a curved
spine; and another with an inflexible knee, the leg forming a right
angle with the thigh. But we have not observed any one of them with
either eye deviating from the true line of vision.

The medical and surgical knowledge of the Omawhaws is very
inconsiderable, and what there is, is so much blended with ceremonies,
which to us appear superstitious, inert, and absurd, that it would
seem, that, with the exception of a few instances, they have no
reasonable mode of practice.

Sweating-baths are much in estimation, and are used for the cure of
many ailments. These are temporary constructions, generally placed near
the edge of a water-course; they are formed of osiers, or small pliant
branches of trees, stuck into the soil in a circular arrangement, bent
over at top so as to form a hemispherical figure, and covered in every
part with bison robes. They are of different sizes, some are calculated
to contain but a single individual, whilst others afford space for
five or six at once. The invalid enters with a kettle of water and
some heated {242} stones, on which the water is sprinkled until the
steam produced is sufficient for his purpose. When they conceive that
his perspiration has been as profuse as necessary, he is taken out
and plunged into the water, and even if the stream be covered with
ice, this is broken to admit the patient. He is not subjected a second
time to the action of the steam, but covers himself with his robe and
returns home.

We did not learn that they possessed any knowledge of cathartic or
emetic medicines. But as a substitute for the latter, a feather is
thrust down the throat, until its irritating effect produces vomiting.

For the cure of cholic, warm topical applications are made, and the
abdomen is kneaded with the fist.

They have no substitute whatever for opium, and we do not know that
they have any for mercury.

For the alleviation of an internal local pain, a severe remedy is
sometimes resorted to. A portion of the medullary substance of a plant,
is attached to the skin over the part affected, by means of a little
spittle; it is then touched with fire, and burns slowly down to the
skin, upon which a vesication is soon produced, and accomplishes the
object intended, of removing, at least for a time, the internal pain to
the surface. This seems to be the only species of actual cautery made
use of.

The Indians, who reside in the upper regions of the Missouri, practise
bleeding for various ailments. This operation is sometimes performed
with a knife or arrow point. At other times, and not unusually, a sharp
stone is placed upon the part from which blood is to be drawn, and it
is then struck with a stick, much in the same manner that veterinarians
operate with the phlegm. They thus bleed in the arm, thigh, leg, &c.

They never dissect the human body, expressly for the purpose of
acquiring a knowledge of its structure; but they have a general idea
of the position of the vitals and viscera, acquired upon the field of
battle, {243} by their custom of hacking the carcasses of the slain; a
knowledge which teaches them on what part of the body of an enemy to
strike, in order that the wound may be mortal.

Gun-shot wounds are administered to by the magi, who powwow over them,
rattle their gourds and sing, whilst they chew roots and blow out the
fragments and saliva on the part. But the efficient practice in cases
of wounds of this nature, is their system of depuration by means of
suction; they apply their lips to the wound, and draw out the pus as it
is secreted; by this mode of treatment they seem to be very successful
in the cure of gun-shot wounds.

Amputation of limbs is not practised in their surgery.

The wound produced by the arrow, is treated much in the same manner
with that of the gun-shot, after the weapon is thrust through the
part, in the direction in which it entered; or, if this cannot be
accomplished, the arrow is withdrawn, and the head or point being very
slightly attached to the shaft, remains in the body, unless the wound
is superficial, in which case it is cut out with a knife.

A broken limb is extended to its place, and enveloped with a leathern
strap; the union generally takes place promptly, but the member usually
remains more or less bent or crooked.

They have no rational mode of treating the scalp wound. A squaw who
had been scalped, covered the part, after its edges had healed, with
a peruke made of bison hair, until the hair on the other parts of her
head became of sufficient length to conceal the deformity.

Dislocated members are reduced by extension, but with so little art,
that they are frequently unsuccessful, and the limb remains permanently

The Omawhaws are entirely destitute of all condiments, with the
exception of salt, which, however, in their eating, they rarely use.

{244} Confirmed insanity appears to be unknown.

Every person, in any degree conversant with Indian manners and customs,
is struck with their proneness to that most abominable and degrading
of all vices, intoxication from the use of spirituous liquors. The
Missouri Indians, collectively, form no exception to this general
trait. A member of the Pawnee war party, which we so unfortunately
encountered near the Konza village, was more solicitous to obtain a
draft of this pernicious beverage, than to possess any other article
within his view. We, however, persisted in refusing it to him, although
he fell upon his knees, and laid his hands convulsively upon his
breast and stomach, crying out, with a voice and manner of earnest
supplication, "Whiskey, whiskey." The vice of drunkenness is yet,
however, extremely rare in the Pawnee, as well as the Konza nation.
But the Omawhaws are much addicted to it, and, with the exception of
the chiefs, the indulgence does not, in any very considerable measure,
degrade them in the estimation of their countrymen, who regard it as a
delightful frolick; unless, indeed, the indulgence is permitted to grow
into a habit.

To this cause, more especially than to any other, is perhaps
attributable the depreciation of the influence of Ongpatonga,
notwithstanding the efforts of his comparatively superior intellectual

The greatest offences and insults are overlooked if committed in this
state, and even murder is palliated by it. The actions of drunken
Indians, are as ridiculous and puerile as those of civilized drunkards;
chiefs, warriors, and common men, roll indiscriminately on the earth
together, or dance, caper, laugh, cry, shout, fight, or hug and kiss,
and rub each other with their hands, in the most affectionate or stupid
manner. If in the vicinity of white people, they appoint some of their
number to remain sober, in order to prevent injury or insult being
offered to them.

{245} The squaws sometimes tie them with cords, in order to preserve
the peace, and are thanked for their precaution, when the subjects
return to the dignity of reason.

Squaws, however, will themselves get drunk on certain occasions, and
children are frequently intoxicated with liquor given them by the

Whiskey, which is the only spirituous liquor they are acquainted with,
is furnished to them freely by the traders; and the existing law of the
United States, prohibiting the sale of it to the natives, is readily
evaded, by presenting it to them with a view of securing their custom,
not in direct, although implied exchange for their peltries. Nor is
this greatest of evils in the power of the agent to remedy; and until
traders are effectually interdicted, by law, from taking any whiskey
into the country, even for their own consumption, it must, in defiance
of his authority, continue to exist.

Whiskey is distinguished by the appellation of Pa-je-ne, or
_fire-water_, the letter _j_ having the French sound in pronunciation.
The state of intoxication is called Ta-ne, a word which has a singular
affinity with that by which they distinguish meat broth, or _meat
water_; so great indeed is the similarity in sound between them, that
to our ear they appear identical.

Intoxicating drinks do not appear to be ever made use of by the
Omawhaws, for superstitious purposes.

This people believe firmly in an existence after death; but they do
not appear to have any definite notions as to the state in which they
shall then be. And although they say that many reappear after death
to their relatives, yet such visitants communicate no information
respecting futurity. They consist of those only who have been killed
either in battle with the enemy, or in quarrels with individuals of
their own nation, and their errand is to solicit vengeance on the
perpetrators of the deed.

{246} Futurity has no terrors to the dying Omawhaw. as he has no
idea of actual punishment beyond his present state of existence. He,
however, regrets the parting from his family and friends, and sometimes
expresses his fears that the former will be impoverished, when his
exertions for their support shall be withdrawn.

The Wahconda is believed to be the greatest and best of beings, the
creator and preserver of all things, and the fountain of mystic
medicine. Omniscience, omnipresence, and vast power are attributed to
him, and he is supposed to afflict them with sickness, poverty, or
misfortune, for their evil deeds. In conversation he is frequently
appealed to as an evidence of the truth of their asseverations, in the
words Wahconda-wa-nah-kong, the Wahconda hears what I say; and they
sometimes add Mun-ekuh-wa-nah-kong, the earth hears what I say.

Whatever may be the notions of other Indian nations, we did not learn
that the Omawhaws have any distinct ideas of the existence of the
devil; or at least we always experienced much difficulty and delay,
when obtaining vocabularies of this and some other languages in
ascertaining corresponding words for _Devil_ and _Hell_: the Indians
would consult together, and in one instance the interpreter told us
they were coining a word.

They say that after death, those who have conducted themselves
properly in this life, are received into the Wa-noch-a-te, or town
of brave and generous spirits; but those who have not been useful to
the nation or their own families, by killing their enemies, stealing
horses, or by generosity, will have a residence prepared for them in
the town of poor and useless spirits; where, as well as in the good
town, their usual avocations are continued.

Their Wahconda seems to be a Protean god; he is supposed to appear
to different persons under different forms. All those who are
favoured with his {247} presence become medicine men or magicians, in
consequence of thus having seen and conversed with the Wahconda, and of
having received from him some particular medicine of wondrous efficacy.

He appeared to one in the shape of a grizzly bear, to another in
that of a bison, to a third in that of a beaver, or owl, &c., and
an individual attributed to an animal, from which he received his
medicine, the form and features of the elephant.

All the magi, in the administration of their medicine to the sick
or afflicted, mimic the action and voice, variously exaggerated and
modified, of the animal, which, they say, is their respective medicine,
or in other words, that in which the Wahconda appeared to them.

When a magician is called to attend a sick person, he makes
preparations for the visit by washing and painting with red clay; some
of them dress fantastically, but others retain their ordinary apparel,
which does not distinguish them from their neighbours; they take with
them a dried gourd or skin, in which are some pebbles or plumstones,
to make a rattling noise; the medicine bag is also an indispensable
requisite, not for the active properties of its contents, but for the
mystic virtues ascribed to them.

When in presence of his patient, he assumes the proper gravity of
deportment, and commences his operations by smoking his pipe, and
talking to his Wahconda; after this preparatory ceremony, the medicine
bag is opened, and the contents displayed, consisting of white and red
earth, herbs entire or pulverized, &c. Portions of these are mixed with
warm water, in small wooden cups, with which he is provided. Then, with
a due degree of solemnity, he advances to his patient, and inquires
into the nature of his ailment; he feels the part affected with his
hand, and in case of local pain, he scarifies the part with a flint,
and proceeds to suck out the blood, {248} having previously taken a
small quantity of water in his mouth. He applies his lips to the wound,
and sucks with great force, drawing a considerable quantity of blood,
which he occasionally ejects into a bowl, in which some dirt or ashes
had been previously sprinkled.

He makes much noise in the operation, by inhaling and expelling the
air forcibly through his nostrils, and at the same time jerks his head
from side to side, tugging at the part to facilitate the process. The
depletion produced by this method, is sometimes so considerable that
the patient becomes relaxed and pallid.

It has been remarked, that those practitioners have very tumid lips,
and this remark is verified in those of Mon-cha-wahconda, or medicine
grizzly bear, whom we have frequently seen.

If the patient has no local pain, the magician administers some of his
simples, sometimes internally, but generally by friction between his
warmed hands, and the breast or abdomen of the patient. At intervals
during this operation, and after the termination of it, he rattles his
gourd with violence, singing to it with great vehemence, and throwing
himself into grotesque attitudes. All this is sometimes daily repeated,
until the convalescence or death of the patient.

A wealthy man, when sick, will sometimes send to a great distance for a
celebrated practitioner, who, if not already engaged, removes with his
family and lodge to the vicinity of the afflicted.

The compensation for all this attendance and powwowing, is proportioned
to the violence and duration of the complaint, and to the wealth of
the individual; it is frequently exorbitant, and consists of horses,
kettles, blankets, &c., which, although they are never demanded, yet
the magician does not fail to allude to some of them as objects of his
wishes, and {249} the gratitude of the patient seldom fails on this
occasion. If the patient dies, notwithstanding all this necromancy, he
is said to be summoned by the Wahconda, and the fee or present to the
magician is made by the relatives or friends of the deceased.

These men sometimes pretend to the spirit of prophecy. One of them
ventured to predict, that two squaws who had recently married white
men, would die in the course of a very short time, which he specified.
The squaws being much alarmed at the prospect of approaching death,
took with them some tobacco and other presents, and went in search of
the prophet in order to prevail upon him to intercede for them with
the Wahconda, and avert their doom. The husband of one of the squaws,
a citizen of the United States, hearing of the occurrence, went to
the lodge of the magician. He was surprised to see there the squaws
perfectly naked before the magician, who had provided himself with a
large kettle of warm water, and was himself engaged in squirting the
water from his mouth over their persons. The husband, incensed at what
appeared to him to be nonsense and imposition, kicked over the kettle
of holy water, and drove the squaws home to their lodges; but the
magician, having received the presents, which were the objects of his
swindling cunning, pretended that his incantation had had the desired
effect with the Wahconda, inducing him to spare their lives.

Many are the impostures which these priests practise on the credulity
of the people. And although they are frequently defeated in their
attempts to deceive, and justly punished for their hypocritical
villainy, yet the advantage of experience seems to profit them little,
and deception, practised under a new garb, often attains its ends. How
can we wonder at this facility, with which a simple people are blinded,
through the medium of their superstitious faith, when we know that
infinitely more {250} monstrous absurdities obtain the inconsiderate
assent, or excite the fears of thousands of civilized men, in the
most populous and enlightened cities of Europe and America, and that
the horse-shoe, even at this day, is frequently seen attached to the
threshold of a door, as a security against the entrance of a witch?

One of these magi acquired a high repute in several of the Missouri
nations, by impressing them with the belief, that his body was
indestructible to human power, and that if cut into a thousand
fragments, and scattered to the winds, these portions would all
promptly assemble together again, and become revivified, so that he
would receive no injury from the operation. Trusting to his fame, on
some slight provocation, he killed a squaw in the midst of her own
people, and with the most unbounded confidence, surrendered himself
to her exasperated relatives, declaring with exultation that they
possessed not the power to harm him.

Unexpectedly, however, they put his vaunted supernatural constitution
to the test, by dividing his body into pieces, and scattering them
about the vicinity of the village.

They are so entirely habituated to practising the arts of deception,
that it would seem they sometimes persuade themselves that what was
at first only feigned, is in truth reality, and that their magic
absolutely possesses its attributed healing virtue. One of these
men, being on a visit to the Pawnee villages, was present at a kind
of grand incantation, during which many extraordinary feats were
exhibited. He there saw, for the first time, the mountebank trick, of
appearing to cut off the tongue, and afterwards replacing the severed
portion without a wound. "There," said Katterfelto, "your medicine
is not strong enough to enable you to perform this operation." The
stranger, jealous of his national honour, and unwilling to be exceeded,
unhesitatingly {251} drew forth his knife, and actually cut off nearly
the whole of his tongue, and bled to death before their eyes.

In the country of the Crow Indians, (Up-sa-ro-ka,)[10] Mr. Dougherty
saw a singular arrangement of the magi. The upper portion of a
cotton-wood tree was implanted with its base in the earth, and around
it was a sweat house, the upper part of the top of the tree arising
through the roof. A gray bison skin, extended with oziers on the inside
so as to exhibit a natural appearance, was suspended above the house,
and on the branches were attached several pairs of children's mockasins
and leggings, and from one of the limbs of the tree, a very large fan
made of war eagle's feathers was dependent.

[10] The Crows, whom the French called _Gens des Corbeaux_, were an
important tribe of the Siouan family. Lewis and Clark estimated their
numbers at three thousand five hundred; they lived on the Yellowstone
River. Nearly two thousand still reside on the Crow reservation in

The Missouri Indians believe earthquakes to be the effect of
supernatural agency, connected, like the thunder, with the immediate
operations of the Master of Life. The earthquakes which, in the year
1811, almost destroyed the town of New Madrid of the Mississippi,
were very sensibly felt on the upper portion of the Missouri country,
and occasioned much superstitious dread amongst the Indians. During
that period, a citizen of the United States resided in the village
of the Otos, trading for the produce of their hunts. One day he was
surprised by a visit of a number of Otos in anger. They said that a
Frenchman, who was also trading in the village, had informed them,
that the Big-knives had killed a son of the Master of Life; that they
had seen him riding on a white horse in a forest country, and being of
a sanguinary disposition, they had waylaid and shot him. And it was
certainly owing to this act that the earth was now trembling before the
anger of the great Wahconda. They believed the story implicitly, and it
was with no little difficulty that the trader divested his own nation
of the singular crimination.[11]

[11] Many individuals attach small bags, of the size of the end of
the thumb, to various parts of their dress, as talismanic preventives
of personal injury. The custom of sacrificing their clothes to the
medicine is unknown to the Omawhaws, but it is practised with the
Upsaroka and some other nations.—JAMES.

{252} As connected with the superstitions of the Missouri Indians,
we may mention some anecdotes that came to our knowledge. First,
of the Me-ma-ho-pa or medicine stone of the _Gros ventres_, or
Minnetarees.[12] This is a large, naked, and insulated rock, situate
in the midst of a small prairie, at the distance of about two days'
journey, southwest of the village of that nation. In shape it resembles
the steep roof of a house. The Minnetarees resort to it, for the
purpose of propitiating their Man-ho-pa or Great Spirit, by presents,
by fasting, and lamentation, during the space of from three to five

[12] The tribe here mentioned belonged to the Siouan family, and
its numbers were estimated by Lewis and Clark at two thousand five
hundred. Their chief village was situated on Knife River, North Dakota.
Minitaree means "to cross water;" Grosventres is French for "Big
Bellies." The proper name of this tribe is Hidatsa, which distinguishes
it from an unrelated tribe farther west, to which both of the former
appellations are sometimes applied—generally with the addition "of the
Prairie;" the Hidatsa being known as Grosventres (or Minitaree) "of the
Missouri." Their numbers were thinned by an epidemic in 1837, and in
1845 they removed some sixty miles farther up the Missouri, where they
were joined by the Mandan, and later (1862) by the Arikara. About four
hundred and fifty Hidatsa now live on the Fort Berthold Reservation, in
North Dakota.—ED.

An individual, who intends to perform this ceremony, takes some
presents with him, such as a gun, horse, or strouding, and also
provides a smooth skin, upon which hieroglyphics may be drawn, and
repairs to the rock accompanied by his friends and magi. On his
arrival, he deposits the presents there, and after smoking to the
rock, he washes a portion of the face of it clean, and retires with
his fellow devotees to a specified distance. During the principal
part of his stay, he cries aloud to his god to have pity on him; to
grant him success in war and in hunting; to favour his endeavours to
take prisoners, horses, and scalps from the enemy. When the appointed
time for lamentation and prayer has elapsed, he returns to the rock;
his presents are no longer there, and he believes them to have been
accepted and carried off by the Manhopa himself. Upon the part of
the rock, which he had washed, he finds certain hieroglyphics traced
with white clay, of which he can generally interpret the meaning,
particularly when assisted by some of the magi, who were no doubt privy
to the whole transaction. These representations are supposed to relate
to his future fortune, or to that of his family or nation; he copies
them off with pious care {253} and scrupulous exactness upon the skin
which he brought for the purpose, and returns to his home, to read from
them to the people, the destiny of himself or of them. If a bear be
represented, with its head directed towards the village, the approach
of a war party, or the visitation of some evil, is apprehended. If, on
the contrary, the tail of the bear be towards the village, nothing but
good is anticipated, and they rejoice. They say that an Indian, on his
return from the rock, exhibited to his friends, on his hieroglyphical
chart, the representation of a strange building, as erected near the
village; they were all much surprised and did not perfectly comprehend
its meaning; but four months afterwards, the prediction was, as it
happened, verified, and a stockade trading house was erected there, by
the French trader Jessaume.[13]

[13] See sketch of Jessaume given in Bradbury's _Travels_, in our
volume v, note 94.—ED.

Lewis and Clark inform us that the Mandans have a similar oracle.

At the distance of the journey of one day and a half from
Knife-creek,[14] which divides the larger and smaller towns of the
Minnetarees from each other, are situate two conical hills, separated
by about the distance of a mile. One of these hills was supposed to
impart a prolific virtue to such squaws as resorted to it for the
purpose of crying and lamenting, for the circumstance of their having
no male issue.

[14] There are two streams in the Minitaree country now bearing the
names respectively of Knife River and Little Knife River. The former
flows from the west and debouches in Mercer County, North Dakota, just
above Lewis and Clark's camp (Fort Mandan) in the winter of 1804-05.
Little Knife River flows from the northeast; its mouth is at the
northern line of the Fort Berthold Indian reservation.—ED.

A person one day walking near the other mount, fancied he observed
upon the top of it, two very small children. Thinking they had strayed
from the village, he ran towards them to induce them to return home;
but they immediately fled from him, nor could his utmost speed overtake
them, and in a short time they eluded his sight. Returning to the
village, the relation of his story excited much interest, and an
Indian set out next day, mounted on a fleet horse, to take the little
strangers. On the approach of this individual to the mount, he also
saw the children, who ran away as before, and although he endeavoured
to overtake them by lashing the horse into {254} his utmost swiftness,
the children left him far behind. But these children are no longer to
be seen, and the hill once of singular efficacy in rendering the human
species prolific, has lost this remarkable property—A change, which
the magi attribute to the moral degeneracy of the present generation
of the _Gros ventres_. Thus, like many of the asserted supernatural
occurrences in the civilized world, these are referred back, in their
obscure tradition, "out of harm's way."

Lewis and Clark, however, inform us, that the Sioux have a belief
somewhat similar, respecting a hill near Whitestone River,[15] which
they fable to be at present occupied by a small and dangerous race of
people, about eighteen inches high, and with remarkably large heads,
who, having killed three Omawhaws a few years since, have inspired all
the neighbouring Indians with a superstitious dread. Although these
intrepid travellers visited the haunted hill, they were happy enough to
escape the vengeance of its Lilliputian inhabitants.

[15] The present Vermillion River, of Clay County, South Dakota.—ED.

With this absurd, but somewhat poetical fable, may be classed the
asserted discovery of Lilliputian skeletons of men on the banks of the
Merameg river, and the osteological acumen of the discoverers of those
relics, may derive all the support which their theory is susceptible of
receiving, from the story of these visionary beings.

Annually, in the month of July, the Minnetarees celebrate their great
medicine dance, or dance of penitence, which may well be compared with
the Currack-pooja of the expiatory tortures of the Hindoos, so often
celebrated at Calcutta. On this occasion a considerable quantity of
food is prepared, which is well cooked, and served up in their best
manner. The devotees then dance and sing to their music at intervals,
for three or four days together in full view of the victuals, without
attempting to taste of them. But they do not, even at this time, forego
{255} their accustomed hospitality. And if a stranger enters, he is
invited to eat, though no one partakes with him. On the third or fourth
day, the severer expiatory tortures commence, to which the preceding
ceremonies were but preludes. An individual presents himself before one
of the officiating magi, crying and lamenting, and requests him to cut
a fillet of skin from his arm, which he extends for that purpose. The
devout operator thrusts a sharp instrument through the skin near the
wrist, then introduces the knife, and cuts out a piece of the required
length, sometimes extending the excision entirely to the shoulder.
Another will request bands of skin to be cut from his arm. A third will
have his breast flayed, so as to represent a full moon or crescent.
A fourth submits to the removal of concentric arcs of skin from his
breast. A fifth prays the operator to remove small pieces of skin from
various indicated parts of his body; for this purpose an iron bodkin is
thrust through the skin, and the piece is cut off, by passing the knife
under the instrument.

Various are the forms of suffering which they inflict upon themselves.
An individual requests the operator to pierce a hole through the skin
of each of his shoulders, and after passing a long cord through each
of these holes, he repairs to a Golgotha at some distance from the
village, and selects one of the bison skulls collected there. To the
chosen cranium he affixes the ends of his cords, and drags it in this
painful manner to the lodge, round which he must go with his burden,
before he can be released from it. No one is permitted to assist him,
neither dares he to put his own hands to the cords, to alleviate his
sufferings. If it should so happen that the horns of the cranium get
hooked under a root or other obstacle, he must extricate it in the
best manner he can, by pulling different ways, but he must not touch
the rope or the head with his hands, or in any respect attempt to
relieve the painful strain upon his wounds, until his complete task is

{256} Some of the penitents have arrows thrust through various muscular
parts of their bodies, as through the skin and superficial muscles of
the arm, leg, breast, and back.

A devotee caused two stout arrows to be passed through the muscles of
his breast, one on each side, near the mammæ. To these arrows cords
were attached, the opposite ends of which were affixed to the upper
part of a post, which had been firmly implanted in the earth for the
purpose. He then threw himself backward, into an oblique position,
his back within about two feet of the soil, so as to depend with
the greater portion of his weight by the cords. In this situation
of excruciating agony, he continued to chaunt and to keep time to
the music of the gong, until, from long abstinence and suffering, he
fainted. The bystanders then cried out, "Courage, courage," with much
shouting and noise; after a short interval of insensibility he revived,
and proceeded with his self-inflicted tortures as before, until nature
being completely exhausted, he again relapsed into insensibility,
upon which he was loosed from the cords, and carried off amidst the
acclamations of the whole assembly.

Another Minnetaree, in compliance with a vow he had made, caused a hole
to be perforated through the muscles of each shoulder; through these
holes cords were passed, which were, at the opposite ends, attached by
way of a bridle to a horse, that had been penned up three or four days
without food or water. In this manner, he led the horse to the margin
of the river. The horse, of course, endeavoured to drink, but it was
the province of the Indian to prevent him, and that only by straining
at the cords with the muscles of the shoulder, without resorting to the
assistance of his hands. And notwithstanding all the exertions of the
horse to drink, his master succeeded in preventing him, and returned
with him to his lodge, having accomplished his painful task.

{257} The Wolf chief,[16] one of the most eminent of the warriors of
the upper village of the Minnetarees, on one occasion, sat five days,
singing and lamenting, without food, on a small insulated and naked
rock in the Missouri river. And it is firmly believed that he did not
even palliate his urgent wants by tasting the water during this long

[16] See Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v, note 99.—ED.

Many of the Minnetarees believe that the bones of those bisons,
which they have slain and divested of flesh, rise again clothed with
renewed flesh, and quickened with life, and become fat, and fit for
slaughtering the succeeding June. They assert that some of their
nation, who were formerly on a hunting excursion, lost one of their
party, a boy, and returned to the village lamenting his loss, and
believing him to have been killed by the Sioux nation, with whom they
were then at war. Some time afterward, a war party was assembled,
that departed to revenge the supposed murder of the boy. During their
journey, they espied a bison, which they pursued and killed. When lo!
on opening the abdomen of the animal, what was their astonishment to
observe the long-lost boy, alive and well, after having been imprisoned
there one entire year. Relieved from his animated prison-house, he
informed them, that, when he left his hunting companions, he proceeded
onward a considerable distance, until he was so fortunate as to kill
this bison. He removed the flesh from one side of the animal, and as
a rainy inclement night was approaching, he concluded to take shelter
within the body of the animal, in place of the viscera, which he had
taken out. But during the night, whilst he slept, the flesh of the
bison that he had cut off, grew over the side again, and effectually
prevented his getting out, and the animal being restored to life, he
had thus been pent up ever since.

Such anecdotes, however puerile and absurd they may be, if
characteristic, lead us to a more accurate {258} and complete knowledge
of the manners and habits of the people, than still more copious
general remarks and reflections.

The Minnetarees, in common with several other nations of our Indians,
have the strange tradition of their origin, that they formerly lived
underground. "Two boys," say they, "strayed away from them, and
absented themselves several days. At length they returned and informed
the nation that they had discovered another world, situate above their
present residence, where all was beautiful and light. They saw the sun,
the earth, the Missouri, and the bison. This account so delighted the
people, that they immediately abandoned their subterranean dwelling,
and, led by the boys, arrived on the surface of the earth, at the spot
which their villages now occupy, and where they have dwelt ever since.

"Soon after they had established themselves in this new world, a
party of strange men appeared mounted on horses. They attacked these
wonderful Centaurs with their bows and arrows, and succeeded in killing
one of them, on which the others fled. Not at first perceiving that the
man and horse were two distinct animals, they were surprised to see
the former fall to the earth, as if one part of the compound animal
was dead and the other part still active, having received no injury.
They at length succeeded in securing the horse, and after admiring the
beauty of his form, and becoming familiar with him, they proceeded to
tie one of their young men upon his back with cords, that he might
not fall off; the horse was then led cautiously by the bridle, until
finally he became sufficiently fearless to ride alone."

They seem to have full faith in the notion that, at their death, they
will be restored to the mansions of their ancestors under ground, from
which they are intercepted by a large and rapid watercourse. Over this
river, which may be compared to the Styx of the ancients, they are
obliged to pass on a very narrow {259} footway. Those Indians who have
been useful to the nation, such as brave warriors or good hunters, pass
over with ease, and arrive safely at the A-pah-he, or ancient village.
But the worthless Indians slip off from the bridge or footway, into
the stream that foams beneath in the swiftness of its course, which
hurries them into oblivion, or Lethe. The Mandans, according to Lewis
and Clarke, have a tradition somewhat similar, and it strongly reminds
us of the Alsirat of Mahomet, over which, it was supposed, that great
leader was to conduct his Moslems to the bliss of futurity, whilst the
unworthy were precipitated into the gulf which yawned beneath it.[17]

[17] On the history and traditions of the Hidatsa, see Matthews,
"Ethnography and Philology of the Hidatsa Indians," in U. S.
Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, _Miscellaneous
Publications_, No. 7 (Washington, 1877).—ED.


    Death—Mourning for the Deceased—Physical
    Character—Senses—Manufactures and Arts—Domestic and Warlike

[18] Chapter i of volume ii of the original London edition.—ED.

WHEN an Omawhaw dies, his kinsmen and friends assemble around his body,
and bewail their loss with loud lamentation, weeping, and clapping of
hands. Ong-pa-ton-ga, being once on a visit to St. Louis, observed a
number of cattle gathering about a spot, where one of their kind had
been recently slaughtered, smelling the blood, and pawing the earth; he
said they behaved very like his own people, on the death of a relative.

They suffer the deceased to remain but a short time previously to
interment, and often bear the body to the grave, before the warmth
of vitality is entirely dissipated. The body is enveloped in a bison
robe, or blanket, which is secured by a cord. It is then carried to
the grave on the shoulders of two or three men, and followed by the
greater portion of the mourners, without any order. The grave is an
oblong square, of sufficient length, and four or five feet deep.
The body is placed in the grave, and {2} with it a pair or two of
mockasins, some meat for food, and many little articles and comforts,
the gifts of affection, to be used on the long journey which the
deceased is supposed to be about to perform, in order to arrive at the
Wa-noch-a-te, or town of brave and generous spirits. The grave is then
filled with earth, and a small tumulus is raised over it, proportioned
in magnitude to the dignity of the deceased. The relatives bedaub their
persons with white clay, scarify themselves with a flint, cut out
pieces of their skin and flesh, pass arrows through their skin; and,
if on a march, they walk barefoot at a distance from their people, in
testimony of the sincerity of their mourning.

For a considerable time, they nightly visit the grave of the deceased,
to lament over it. A sorrowing relative may be seen, of a bleak wintry
night, bending over the grave, clad in a scanty robe, which scarcely
conceals the middle of the back, as an additional self-punishment and
unequivocal manifestation of grief.

For the death of a brave warrior, or of a chief, the lamentation
is more general, and many of those who visit the body previous to
its removal, present to it blankets, bison robes, breech-cloths,
and mockasins, which are sometimes thus accumulated in considerable
numbers; of these presents, part is retained by the orphans, if any,
but the greater number is entombed with the body. Over the grave of a
person of this description, a kind of roof or shelter is constructed,
of pieces of wood reared against each other, and secured at top, then
sodded over with grass sod.

The season prescribed by custom for mourning, is a period of from seven
to twelve months; during this time the violent expressions of their
grief gradually diminish, and towards the expiration of the allotted
season, the state of mourning is only manifested by the coating of
white clay, and even this, like the black apparel of civilized
mourners, is at length {3} dispensed with, and with the same decorous

A cruel proof of heartfelt grief, is exhibited by some of the natives,
on the upper parts of the Missouri; they cut off joints of their
fingers; the individual cuts the skin and ligaments of the joint with
his common eating knife, then places the joint between his teeth, and
twists it off with violence, the teeth performing at the same time the
offices of a wedge and a vice.

In form, the Missouri Indian is symmetrical and active, and in stature,
equal, if not somewhat superior, to the ordinary European standard;
tall men are numerous. The active occupations of war and hunting,
together perhaps with the occasional privations, to which they are
subjected, prevents that unsightly obesity, so often a concomitant of
civilization, indolence, and serenity of mental temperament.

From this representation of the physical man, it is obvious that our
observations do not correspond with those of Humboldt, regarding the
natives of Canada, Florida, and New Spain, in as far as he represents
them with the "squat body."

The forehead retires remarkably backward, and the posterior part of the
head (occiput) has a flatness of appearance, attributable, perhaps, to
the circumstance of its having rested so constantly during infancy, on
the surface of a board, or on the scarcely less yielding interposed pad
or pillow. Yet that organ, to which, in the phrenological system, the
seat of amativeness is referred, although not usually very prominent,
is still marked and distinct.

The facial angle of the cranium has been represented by Blumenbach
at 73 degrees, an obliquity which induced him to place the American
Indian in his series of the varieties of the human race, as the fourth
in number.

But his observations were made upon the cranium of a Carib, than which
people, as Humboldt justly {4} remarks, "there is no race on the globe
in which the frontal bone is more depressed backwards, or which has a
less projecting forehead." This observation will not rigidly apply to
the western Indian, who certainly possesses a greater verticality of
profile. Agreeably to the mensurations of Doctor Harlan,[19] a cranium,
which we obtained on the plains of the Platte, exhibits an angle of 78
degrees—A Wabash male 78°, female 80°, and a Cherokee only 75°.

[19] Richard Harlan (1796-1843) was a prominent physician of
Philadelphia, and member of many learned societies. At the time of
publication of the account of Long's expedition, he was professor of
comparative anatomy in the Philadelphia museum. At the time of his
death at New Orleans (1843), he was vice-president of the Louisiana
Medical Society.—ED.

The hair is coarse, black, glossy, and dense upon the head, sparse and
slender upon the chin, independently of the custom of extirpating it,
but although the hair is certainly oval in its transverse section, yet
we could not perceive, that, in this respect, its proportions exceeded
our own.

The line of the direction of their eyes is nearly rectilinearly
transverse, being in this respect intermediate between the arcuated
line of the eyes of the white man, and that of the Indians of New
Spain, who, according to Humboldt, have the corner of the eye directed
upward towards the temples.

The nose is generally prominent, and either aquiline or Roman, with
the wings not more dilated than those of white men. This form of nose
is so prevalent, as to be regarded as the most beautiful; it is no
small compliment to tell a person that his nose is like that of a
mule; and beauty is indicated in their language of signs, by placing
an arcuated finger upon the face in imitation of the aquiline curve.
The _pug-nose_, and the more common form of the noses of the white
Americans, of a concave outline, are regarded as remote from the
standard of beauty.

The lips are more tumid than those of the white American, but very far
less so than those of the negro.

The lower jaw is large and robust; the teeth are very strong, with
broad crowns. The chin is well formed.

{5} The cheekbones are prominent, but not angular like those of
the Mongul, and stamp a peculiarity on the contour of the face,
characteristic of the American Indian.

The expression of the countenance is austere, often ferocious.[20]

[20] The gravity of the Indian is almost proverbial: he will smile,
but he rarely laughs. He does not indulge in badinage, or unnecessary
remarks respecting the weather, merely for the purpose of talking,
and generally addresses his companions in a low voice, and with few
words, excepting in council, when his elocution is loud, rapid, and
vehement: the voice is full, harsh, and somewhat guttural. The squaw,
not unfrequently, offers a perfect contrast in this respect, in her
vivacious demeanour, shrill loquacity, and pleasant smile, and laugh,
readily excited.—JAMES.

Very few of them are left-handed, perhaps even a smaller number of them
use the left hand in preference to the right, than is observable among
white men.

The squaw differs from the males, in having a more squat figure, or is
shorter and more thick bodied, with a much broader face.

The colour of the Indian is, according to Volney, that of the skin
of smoked bacon ham. It is sufficiently obvious that this colour is
independent of climate; those parts of the body, which are, and,
agreeably to their representations, always have been, perfectly
shielded from the action of the rays of the sun, from their youth
upward, are, notwithstanding, of the same tint with the face, which is
never covered.

In walking they preserve a perfectly upright carriage of the person,
without any thing of the swinging gait so universal with the white
people, which is regarded by them as excessively awkward, and which
they imitate in their sports to excite the merriment of the spectators,
though not in the presence of those whom they thus ridicule.

In stepping the feet are universally placed upon the ground in a
parallel manner with each other; they say that turning out the toes in
walking, as well as turning them inward, is a very disadvantageous mode
of progression, in high grass or in narrow pathways.

The peculiar odour diffused by the body of the Indian, seems to be
caused, not so much by the cutaneous transpiration, as by the custom of
rubbing themselves with odoriferous plants, and with bison {6} grease.
They also sometimes make necklaces of a sort of sweet-scented grass,
and suspend small parcels of it about their persons. The various kinds
of pigments, with which they overspread their persons, may also be
partially operative in producing this effect; and the ninnegahe, which
they are so constantly habituated to smoke, is doubtless another agent.

The odour of the Indian is rather agreeable than otherwise to many, and
that diffused by the persons of the Pawnee war party near the Konza
village, increased by a profuse perspiration from the violence of their
exercise in running, was rather pleasant to most of the members of our
party. The Upsaroka or Crow Indians, are said to anoint themselves with

To the acute sense of smelling of the Indian, the odour of the white
man is far from pleasant, and is often particularly remarked by the
squaw to be offensive.

Their sense of hearing is remarkably acute; ordinary conversation
amongst the men, as we have before observed, is conducted in a low tone
of voice; often when you suppose from the compass of the speaker's
voice, that he is addressing a person at his elbow, he is, in reality,
directing his discourse to one on the opposite side of the room, or at
a considerable distance. The ordinary conversation of the women is in
a much louder tone than that of the men. Partial deafness, however, is
not uncommon.

The memory of the Omawhaw is exceedingly retentive.

The Omawhaw seldom renders himself unhappy with gloomy anticipations
of the future, but almost literally takes "no care for the morrow." He
will say to his squaw, "cook what meat you have, for the Wahconda will
give us more to-morrow, and if not to-morrow, next day, and if never,
let us eat what we have got."

{7} They have but little mechanical ingenuity, but an individual of
this nation, who is now no more, without acquiring any knowledge of
the white people, as far as we could learn, mended the guns and traps
of his countrymen, when not too seriously injured. But they have not
attempted to repair either, since his death.

They rarely construct skin canoes; they make war-clubs, rude saddles,
hair ropes, stone pipes, wooden bowls, horn spoons, and many personal

The squaws make mockasins and leggings variously ornamented; and
handsome necklaces, wrought with beads of different colours, which are
symmetrically strung upon red silk, or thread coloured with vermillion.
In the manufacture of this common, and much admired article of
dress, ten double threads are attached by one end to a small _wang_
or shred of leather, which is firmly stretched and fixed transversely
to the work; each double thread is placed at such a distance from the
adjoining ones, as to give room for the beads. These are then strung
on, one upon each double thread; by this operation a transverse row of
beads is formed upon the work, parallel to the _wang_; this being done,
the left hand double thread is passed to the right, not over and under,
but through all the other double threads, parallel to, and in contact
with the row of beads, and in this position occupies the situation of
woof or _filling_; but its extremity is continued along on the right
side of the work, so as to resume, in that portion of its length, the
character of warp or _chain_. Another row of beads is now put on; after
which the next left hand double thread is passed through each of the
others to the right of the work, as the previous one had been.

They also make handsome garters for supporting the leggings below the
knee, of the breadth of the hand; they are formed of beads strung on
worsted yarn.

{8} Their art of painting is very rude, yet they manage to give some
idea of a battle, by graphic representations in colour, on a bison
robe. In the same manner are depicted the various animals, which are
the objects of their hunts. These robes are also decorated with blue,
red, and black broad lines, forming various designs; indeed it is very
common to see a robe thus ornamented, worn by an Omawhaw.

The art of sculpture is also in its rudest state, and is almost limited
to the ornamenting of the war-club with indented lines, forming
different angular figures.

Their persons are often neatly tattooed in straight lines, and in
angles on the breast, neck, and arms. The daughters of chiefs, and
those of wealthy Indians, generally are denoted by a small round spot,
tattooed on the forehead. The process of tattooing is performed by
persons, who make it a business of profit. Their instrument consists
of three or four needles, tied to the truncated and flattened end of
a stick, in such an arrangement that the points may form a straight
line; the figure desired is traced upon the skin, and some dissolved
gunpowder, or pulverized charcoal, is pricked in with this instrument,
agreeably to the figure. The operator must be well paid, and hence it
is not every one that can conveniently sustain the expense of having
this distinguishing mark placed on the forehead of his children.

Their astronomical knowledge is very limited. They distinguish the
north star (Polaris), and are aware of its being apparently stationary,
while the others seem to revolve. Venus is known by the name of
_Me-ka-ka-tun-guh_, or big star. The constellation of the seven stars
(Pleiades), is called _Tapa_, or deer's head. The constellation of the
great bear (Ursa major), is distinguished by the term _Wa-ba-ha_, or
car for transporting sick or wounded {9} persons on a march. The galaxy
is called _Wahconda-o-jun-ga_, or the path of the Master of Life. When
the moon is eclipsed, they say _Me-om-bottsa_, or the moon is dead;
and when the sun is eclipsed, they say the sun is dead. A comet they
denominate _Me-ka-ka-nare_, or blazing star; this name, at least, was
given to the comet of 1811; they regarded it as portending the death of
some great chief; and as it happened, one of the great Pawnee chiefs
did die the same year, which confirmed them in their notion. The three
stars of Orion's belt, are called _Me-huh-se_, or the goose-foot.

Wangewaha, the Hard Heart, chief of the Ioways, has made himself
considerably acquainted with the manners of the white people; he
surprised Mr. Dougherty one day by inquiring, if it is true that
the earth revolves round the sun; he was of course answered in the
affirmative; when a sarcastic Indian of a group sitting near, was
overheard to say in a low voice, that it was indeed a pretty story to
tell them, when any person could see the sun rise there, pass along in
that direction, and set there (pointing with his finger to the apparent
course of the luminary).

The day is divided into morning, noon, evening, and night; and
respectively indicated by the words, _Cas-aht-te_, _Me-o-kons-ka_,
_Paz-za_, and _Hon-da_. Any particular hour of the day is denoted by
pointing to the apparent place of the sun at the specified time. The
years are denoted by the number of winters, and the months by lunations.

Their geographical knowledge of the country over which they roam is
remarkably exact. They know intimately every river and creek in the
vicinity of the Missouri, from Grand river up to the Arickaree nation,
on the left side of the river, and as far down as the Osage river on
the right, and south as far as the Black Hills, together with their
courses and distances.

{10} Mr. Dougherty, accompanied with two or three young Indians,
arrived at an Omawhaw hunting encampment, late in the evening, and,
after inquiring at several of the lodges, at length entered the one
in which he intended to remain. Being asked by which way he had come,
he pointed out, as he thought, the true direction; at this his fellow
travellers smiled, and told him he was mistaken. He was not undeceived
till he went out of the lodge to observe the direction they had
indicated, when he became satisfied of their correctness. They had,
however, been less frequently in that part of the country than he had
been; but they had, without doubt, instinctively noted all the changes
of the direction which they had made in winding through the temporary
village, for they could not avail themselves of previous local

But although they are remarkably accurate in their knowledge of the
proper direction in which to travel, in order to reach a given point,
yet they are often lost during foggy days, or during heavy snow storms.

Their culinary utensils are few in number, and simple in kind. The
original earthenware pots are now rarely used by the nations on the
lower part of the Missouri, being substituted by brass kettles, which
they procure from the traders in exchange for their peltries. The
Pawnees, however, whose intercourse with the whites has been less
considerable than that of the nations bordering more closely on the
Missouri, still employ earthen vessels, and yet continue the limited
manufacture of them. These vessels are not glazed, and resemble
in composition the antique fragments of Indian earthenware, found
in various parts of the United States; the mementos of a numerous
people, that have been destroyed by obscure causes, as well as by the
avaricious policy, and cruelly unjust and barbarous encroachments of
{11} a people, professing the mild doctrines of "peace on earth and
good will to men."

Food is served up in wooden bowls, of a very wide and simple form, and
of various sizes, generally carved, with much patient application,
out of a large knot or protuberance of the side of a tree. The spoon
is made of bison horn, and is of a large size; the handle, variously
ornamented by notching and other rude carving, is elevated into an
angle of fifty or sixty degrees with its bowl, which is about three
inches wide, by about five in length; a size which, in civilised life,
would be inadmissible.

The only implement of husbandry is the hoe; if they have not an iron
one, they substitute the scapula of a bison, attached to a stick in
such a manner as to present the same form. The traders supply them with
axes of iron.

The weapons used in hunting are bows and arrows, and guns. The bow
is about four feet long, of a simple form, composed of hickory, or
hop-horn beam wood, (ostrya virginica,) or bow-wood,(maclura aurantiaca
of Nuttall,) the latter being greatly preferred. The cord is of twisted
bison, or elk sinew. The hunting arrow is generally made of arrow-wood,
(viburnum,) about two feet in length, of the usual cylindric form, and
armed with elongate-triangular spear-head, made of sheet iron, of which
the shoulders are rounded, instead of the ordinary barbed form; it is
firmly affixed to the shank by deer sinew, and its flight is equalised
by three half webs of the feathers of a turkey, neatly secured near
its base, in the usual manner. The war arrow differs from that used
for hunting, in having a barbed spear-head, very slightly attached to
the wood, so that if it penetrate the body of an enemy, it cannot be
withdrawn without leaving the point in the wound.

The arrows are contained in a quiver, which is slung obliquely across
the back, and which is generally made of Cougar skin, with the tail
of the {12} animal dangling down from the upper extremity; attached
to this quiver is also a skin case for the bow, when not in use. To
bend the bow requires the exertion of considerable force, dexterously
applied; for this purpose three fingers are placed upon the string,
whilst the thumb and index finger grasp the base of the arrow, where it
rests on the string; the wrist is defended from the percussion of the
string by a guard of leather. The smooth bored gun is preferred to the
rifle, the latter being too heavy for their use. Those called Mackinaw
guns are greatly preferred to those which they more commonly procure
from our traders, being far more substantial and serviceable.

They make use of no traps, excepting those for catching beaver, which
they obtain from the traders chiefly on loan. The hooks which they use
in fishing are bought of the traders. They have no fishing nets.

We saw no other domestic animals in the Indian villages than horses,
mules, asses, and dogs. The first are by no means elegantly formed,
but they are hardy and serviceable. The Indians are generally cruel
horse masters, perhaps in a great measure through necessity; the backs
of their horses are very often sore and ulcerated, from the friction
of the rude saddle, which is fashioned after the Spanish manner, being
elevated at the pummel and croup, and resting on skin saddle cloths
without padding. They ride extremely well, and make great use of the
whip and the heel. The former is attached to the wrist by a broad band,
which passes through a hole perforated near the end of the handle. The
handle is about fifteen inches long only, and very stout; that of the
whip of Hashea, the Oto warrior, is the section of a gun-barrel. The
lash is composed of two thongs of bison skin, from one-fourth to half
an inch wide. These are alternately passed through small longitudinal
slits cut in each, and, when {13} finished, exhibit, on a cursory
view, the appearance of a flat plait, thick, and longer than the handle.

The dogs of the Konzas are generally of a mixed breed, between our dogs
with pendant ears, and the native dogs, whose ears are universally
erect; the Indians of this nation seek every opportunity to cross the
breed. These mongrel dogs are less common with the Omawhaws; while the
dogs of the Pawnees generally have preserved their original form.

No regular sentinels are appointed to watch during the night; but many
of the young men, who are moving about the greater part of the night
on their errands of love, often singing and hallooing to excite the
attention of their mistresses, are the only guards of the safety of the
village from surprise. If, however, the nation have reason to believe
that the enemy is near at hand, or that there is a probability of an
attack, they are necessarily vigilant; young warriors volunteer to look
out at different points, or are requested to do so by the chiefs.

Wars generally originate in the stealing of horses, and the elopement
of squaws; they are sometimes the consequence of infringing on each
other's hunting grounds. Hostilities are generally conducted by small
predatory parties, which are originated and formed under the influence
of some approved warrior. An individual of this description, having
determined to endeavour to assemble a war party, as a first step,
paints himself over with white clay; he then passes through the camp
or village, crying aloud to the Wahconda, and requesting the young
warriors of the nation to have pity on him, and accompany him to strike
at the enemy; he then ascends some hill or elevation, or repairs to
the woods, and there continues for some time his ejaculations. The
following day he gives a feast to all such as are willing to accompany
him; and it is distinctly understood, that all of those who partake of
his hospitality on this occasion are enlisted for the {14} excursion.
He occasionally repeats this crying and feasting, until a convenient
period can be assigned for their departure. During this interval he
also occupies himself in _making medicine_, hanging out his medicine
bags, &c. At his feasts he harangues his men, telling them that they
must endeavour to make themselves known to the nation by their warlike

This leader the French distinguish by the name of _partizan_, and
the Omawhaws _No-doh-hun-guh_; his medicine parcel, upon which much
reliance is placed, for the successful termination of their adventure,
contains, almost always, the skin of a sparrow hawk (Falco sparverius),
and many small articles, such as wampum, beads, and tobacco, all
attached to a belt, but carefully and neatly enveloped in bark, and
tied around by strips of the same material, forming a cylindrical
figure, of about twelve inches in length.

This is suspended upon the back or shoulders of the partizan, by its
belt, which passes round his neck.

Having their mockasins, leggings, guns, bows and arrows, spears, war
clubs, and scalping knives prepared, each man furnishes himself with
some provisions, and they all depart silently during the night, led by
the partizan.

On their route towards the enemy they proceed with great caution,
and constantly send forward runners, or spies, to reconnoitre. When
encamped, some individuals are vigilant during the night, but if they
suppose themselves to be distant from the enemy, they keep no watch.

The medicine bag is not permitted to touch the ground; accordingly
on encamping, it is carefully suspended to a forked stick, which is
stuck firmly in the soil; the ceremony of smoking to it, is then
performed, the stem of the pipe being occasionally directed towards
it, the heavens and the earth. After this ceremony, if the party is in
the vicinity of the {15} enemy, the partizan places the medicine bag
about the neck of one of his trusty warriors, and, whispering in his
ear, directs him to take two or three men, and look carefully about for
signs of the enemy.

On the return of this messenger the partizan runs to meet him, receives
his report in a whisper, takes the important charge from his neck,
and whilst returning it to its place, communicates the intelligence
he has received to his party; "no sign of the enemy has yet been
discovered, but have patience, my brave young men, the Wahconda will
soon have pity on us, and show us the enemy we so anxiously seek." If,
on the contrary, the enemy is discovered, his position and numbers
are reconnoitred, and the party prepares to attack them. The sacred
medicine bag is now opened by the partizan; the envelop is rejected,
and the remainder is suspended from his neck, with the bird skin,
wampum, &c. hanging down before from the belt. This is a signal,
indicating that a blow must be struck. The party then paint themselves,
and smoke if time admits of it. The partizan at length gives the wished
for order, and the whole move onward, with slow and cautious steps,
in order to surprise the enemy; but if discovered, they rush on with
impetuosity, and without any regular order. If the scene of the contest
lies in the forest, they shield themselves behind trees of small
diameter, when at the proper distance, from whence they discharge their
missiles. If the attack is made in the open plain, where no shelter
offers, they leap about from one side to another, and preserve a
constant state of activity, for the purpose of preventing any steady
aim from being taken at them by their adversaries.

It is not the mere shooting down of an enemy that confers great honour
upon a warrior; this, the Indians say, can be done by any person,
however cowardly he may be. But high distinction is due to the gallant
soul, that advances upon the field of {16} battle, and captures an
enemy, or who first strikes, or even touches the body of a fallen
enemy, in presence of the friends of the deceased, who are generally
watching their opportunity to revenge his death.

This is, indeed, an extraordinary proof of courage, as the act is not
to be accomplished without the greatest hazard of life; the adventurer
is obliged to expose himself, often, to a great number of assailants,
besides the danger of falling into an ambush, in attempting to strike
the decoy. It is this _striking_, that is numbered amongst their war
feats by the warriors, at their dances.

The capture of a prisoner confers the highest honour on the captor.
Striking an enemy, whilst active, appears to be the second in rank, of
their great martial achievements. Striking his dead, or disabled body,
confers the third honour. Capturing a horse may be regarded as the
fourth; presenting a horse to any person, the fifth, and the shooting,
or otherwise killing an enemy, by a missile, is the sixth in point of
rank of military deeds, in the estimation of the Omawhaws. The taking
of a scalp is merely an evidence of what has been done, and, of itself,
seems to confer no honour.

The prisoners are well guarded, and not roughly treated, unless a
strong party of the enemy are in pursuit, when they are put to death.

On the battle ground, the wounded of the vanquished are killed, and
their dead are cut and hacked by the victors; but if it should chance
to be accessible to the squaws, they perform the chief part in this
tragedy. They sever the limbs from the bodies, and attaching them to
strings, drag them about with vociferous exultation: etiam genitalia
excidunt, and tying them about the necks of their dogs, they drive
them before them, with much shouting, laughter, noise, and obscene

{17} A war party, after having struck a blow upon the enemy, return
with rapidity towards their village.

They leave the mutilated carcasses of the slain upon the contested
field, a prey to the wolves and vultures. Their own dead are covered
with wood or stones, and their wounded are transported on litters, on
the shoulders of others, or if they have horses with them, upon cars
of a very simple construction. Two poles are attached to the neck of
the horse, in the manner of shafts, which trail upon the ground behind.
These are so connected behind the horse, with cross pieces lashed on,
that a bison robe can be suspended to them, for the reception of the
wounded person.

If the attack is made during the night, or if the party has only
captured horses unobserved by the enemy, a mockasin or arrow is left in
a conspicuous situation, to inform the enemy of the nation to which the
aggressors belong.

Large war parties sometimes divide into smaller parties, in order to
attack simultaneously at different points. Each of these parties on
its return, at its different encampments, inserts small painted sticks
in the soil, pointing to the route they have taken. They also peel
off a portion of the bark from a tree, and on the trunk thus denuded
and rendered conspicuous, they delineate hieroglyphics with vermillion
or charcoal, indicative of the success or misfortune of the party in
their proceedings against the enemy. These hieroglyphics are rudely
drawn, but are sufficiently significant, to convey the requisite
intelligence to another division of the party that may succeed them.
On this rude chart, the combatants are generally represented by
small straight lines, each surmounted by a head-like termination,
and are readily distinguishable from each other; the arms and legs
are also represented, when necessary to record the performance of
some particular act, or to exhibit a wound. Wounds are indicated by
the representation of the {18} dropping of blood from the part; an
arrow wound, by adding a line for the arrow, from which the Indian is
able, to estimate with some accuracy, its direction, and the depth
to which it entered. The killed are represented by prostrate lines;
equestrians are also particularized, and if wounded or killed, they
are seen to spout blood, or to be in the act of falling from their
horses. Prisoners are denoted by their being led, and the number of
captured horses is made known by the number of lunules, representing
their track. The number of guns taken may be ascertained by bent lines,
on the angle of which is something like the prominences of the lock.
Women are portrayed with short petticoats and prominent breasts, and
unmarried females by the short queues at the ears, before described.

A war party, on its return, generally halts upon some elevated ground
within sight of the village; and if they have been successful, they sit
down and smoke their pipes. The villagers on discovering them rush out
to meet them, and receive a brief relation of the events that have
occurred during the expedition.

All then return to the village, exhibiting by the way the greatest
demonstrations of joy, by discharging their guns, singing war-songs,
&c. The scalps stretched upon hoops, and dried, are carried upon rods
of five or six feet in length.

Arrived at the village, some of the squaws, wives to the warriors of
the party, assume the dress of their husbands, and, with the rods
bearing the scalps in their hands, dance around a large post, reddened
with vermillion, and, in concert with the young warriors, sing the war
and scalp songs; the young warriors occasionally step into the ring of
the dancers, and all keep time, with dance and song, to the loud beat
of the gong. Into this dance are also admitted the relatives of the war

This barbarous dance appears to delight them, {19} and particularly the
squaws, who are the principal actors, more than almost any other of
their enjoyments.

Indeed, it is to the squaws that many of these excursions are
attributable, as those whose husbands have not been successful in war,
frequently murmur, saying, "You have had me for a wife a long time, and
have never yet gratified me with the scalp dance."

Those squaws, whose husbands or relatives have been killed during the
excursions of the party, take no part in this blissful dance, but rub
themselves with clay, and lament.

This dance is repeated every night for two or three weeks, after which
it is renewed occasionally for a twelvemonth. The scalps are often cut
into slips, that many of the dancers may be accommodated with them;
but this was never done with an intention to deceive, respecting
the actual number of the enemy killed. After the termination of this
ceremony, the scalps are either thrown away, or are used to decorate
the leggings of the warrior, or to suspend from his medicine-bag, or
from the bridle of his horse.

Soon after the return of the party, the principal warriors are
invited to feasts by different villagers, where they recount the
events that have transpired during their absence. They narrate the
mode of approaching the enemy, the onset, the battle, all the little
particulars of which are detailed: but they seem to dwell with
particular pleasure on the conduct of individuals of the enemy, as it
appeared immediately before they received the death blow; if there was
any movement of the body, or emotion exhibited upon the countenance of
the victim, that betrayed a want of firmness, or fear of death, at that
awful juncture, the account excites much laughter in the audience. If
the disabled individual was so imbecile as to shrink from a blow of
the tomahawk {20} or war-club, he is ridiculed as a coward. If he is
said to have cried for quarter, or begged for mercy, or to have held
up the palm of his hand towards the victor to appease his vengeance,
the account is received with ridicule and laughter, at the expense of
the deceased. If, on the contrary, he is said to have perished with
that stoicism and contempt of death, which is regarded as worthy of the
Indian warrior, the auditors, although they may smile with pleasure at
the death of an enemy, yet pay due honour to his manes, saying he was a
brave fellow; and they do not fail to applaud the bravery of his victor

All those of the party who have first struck a body, or taken a
prisoner, paint themselves black, and if any strangers are in the
village, they put on their _crow_, and appear before them, or near
them, and sing their war-song in which their exploits are detailed.

The prisoners are differently treated according to their sex, age, and
qualifications. Of the squaws they make slaves, or rather servants,
though these are sometimes advantageously married. To the young men
the task of tending horses is commonly assigned; but the children are
generally adopted into their families, and are treated in every respect
as their own offspring; when arrived at maturity they are identified
with the nation, and it would be an insult to apply the name of their
own countrymen to them.


War—Negociation for Peace—Revenge—Self-esteem—Hospitality—Mimicry.

AN individual warrior not unfrequently goes to war unaccompanied; but
parties are generally made up for this purpose, in the manner before
mentioned. In cases of extraordinary provocation, the whole nation of
warriors marches in a body to attack the enemy, under the direction of
the principal chief.

More than twenty years ago, the Omawhaws marched against the Pawnee
Mahas or Pawnee Loups. They encountered them on their hunting grounds,
between the Platte and Quicourre[21] rivers, in the prairie, where they
attacked them, killed sixty, and wounded a great many; after securing
a number of prisoners, and many horses, they returned with their
booty, having lost but fifteen warriors. Peace was soon after concluded
between the two nations, which has not been since violated, excepting
on one occasion, when their dispute was bloodless, and of but short

[21] Now more commonly known by its Indian name of Niobrara, which
signifies the same as L'Eau qui Court (Running Water or Rapid River),
of which Quicourre is a corruption. The entire course of this river
lies in Nebraska, just below its northern boundary.—ED.

Sometime after this event, Mot-tschu-jinga, or the Little Grizzly
Bear, a brave and distinguished warrior of the nation, with two or
three attendants, visited the village of the Pawnee republicans, in
order to perform the calumet dance before the people. This was a band
with whom they were barely at peace. The republicans seized him,
flogged him, cut off his hair, broke his pipe, forced him to drink
urine mixed with bison gall, and drove him from the village without
food. These extraordinary and most humiliating indignities aroused
within him the fiercest spirit of vengeance. He returned, and related
his misfortune {22} to his people, who, penetrated with indignation,
promptly assembled in arms, and led by the great Washingguhsahba, or
Black Bird, marched to revenge such unheard-of indignity. When within
a short distance of the devoted village, they placed their squaws in a
secure situation, under a proper guard, and proceeded to the attack.
They urged the contest so fiercely that the enemy was driven from lodge
to lodge, until four lodges only were left to them, in which they
succeeded in defending themselves; the town, with the exception only of
the four lodges, was then burned to the ground, and the victors retired
after destroying nearly one hundred of the enemy, and wounding a great
number, with the loss to themselves of only fifteen warriors.

Under the same great leader, the nation, on another occasion, attacked
the Puncaws; this act was induced by the practice of the latter of
stealing squaws and horses from the Omawhaws. The Puncaws, for the
purpose of defending themselves against the fire of the enemy, threw
up an earthen embankment; but finding, notwithstanding the protection
it afforded them, that their numbers rapidly diminished under the
galling fire opposed to them, they determined to sue for peace; for
this purpose two pipe-bearers were sent out successively towards the
enemy, but they were both shot down. A chief then dressed up his
handsome daughter, and sent her forth with a pipe to the Omawhaws. This
mission was respected, the stern victors were vanquished by beauty, the
proffered pipe was accepted, and unhesitatingly smoked, and a peace was
concluded, which has not since been infracted by the Omawhaws. Soon
after the death of Washingguhsahba, his successor Mushchinga, the Big
Rabbit, led the nation against the Otoes, whom they attacked in their
village. It was the intention of the assailants to burn the village,
and exterminate the nation. With this view they provided themselves
with dry grass, which was twisted into the form of thick ropes, {23}
and secured to their girdles. When within the proper distance they
despatched a detachment to take ambush on the opposite side of the
village, then kindled a fire, at which they lighted the grass torches,
and rushing into the village, succeeded in setting many of the lodges
on fire, by fixing the torches to them. Such was the fury of the
unexpected attack, that the Oto warriors were driven from the village,
but falling into the ambuscade, they fought their way back to their
lodges with much slaughter. A heavy fall of rain now commenced, which
rescued the remaining Otoes from entire destruction. The conflagration
was quickly extinguished, the guns and bow-strings of the invaders
became useless, and the Otoes sallying out with fresh weapons, forced
them to a precipitate retreat. The loss was severe on both sides, but
the Omawhaws succeeded in carrying off almost all the horses of the
enemy, besides a number of prisoners, furniture, &c. The war continued
between these two nations until the pacification which was accomplished
through the agency of Lewis and Clark, and has continued to the present

Reverting to the period of the government of Washingguhsahba, we are
informed that the Padoucas once approached the nation, and stole
a number of horses, when this chief assembled his warriors, and
pursued them; observing the tracks of their feet in the soft earth,
he discharged his gun repeatedly into them, declaring that thereby
he would cripple the fugitives so entirely, that it would be easy to
overtake and destroy them. Accordingly he did overtake them, and,
agreeably to the Indian account, they were unable to defend themselves,
and were all destroyed but two or three, who escaped, and failed not to
inform their people of the wonderful medicine of the victor.

The last martial expedition of Washingguhsahba, terminated disastrously
for his nation. He led his warriors against the Konzas, halted them
near the {24} village of that people, and singly rode round the
village, repeatedly discharging his gun at the inhabitants, as he
passed swiftly by them. As soon as the Konza warriors were collected,
they sallied out in pursuit of the Black Bird, who had now joined his
party. The parties closed, and intermingled in fight, and the contest
was obstinate and protracted. An Omawhaw pierced the thigh of a Konza
with an arrow; the latter called aloud to inquire the name of his
adversary, and was answered, No-zun-doj-je (he who does not dodge).
"My name," said the Konza, "is —— (he who kills brave men), so come
on, we are happily met." They approached each other, leaping laterally
and capering, the Omawhaw discharging his arrows, and the Konza
endeavouring to get aim with his fusee; the latter at length succeeded,
and shot his opponent.

The conflict at length became too warm for the Omawhaws, who retreated
eight miles, disputing the ground, however, the whole distance. They
now arrived at the prairie, on which we encamped on the evening of the
24th of August last.

Here the Omawhaws again made a stand, and fought the principal battle,
but were overpowered, and obliged to fly, leaving their numerous killed
and wounded to the vengeance of the enemy.

These two nations still continue hostile to each other.

It is said that during the youth of Washingguhsahba, he was taken
prisoner by the Sioux. That the town of the Omawhaws, was then on the
opposite bank of the Missouri, at the mouth of the stream called by
Lewis and Clark, Floyd's river,[22] and that the nation had not, at
that time, been long resident there.

[22] Sergeant Floyd, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, died here in
August, 1804, whence the name of the stream, which it still bears. Its
mouth is on the Iowa side, just below Sioux City.—ED.

Some time previous to the variolous mortality in the Omawhaw nation,
several bands of Sioux, in conjunction with the Shienne nation,[23]
attacked them on their return from a summer hunt, and overpowered them
by numbers.

[23] On the Cheyenne, see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v, note

{25} A few years since, the Pawnees made a general attack upon the
Konza village. They were all mounted on horseback, and rode furiously
about, whilst they fired into the Konza lodges. The principal chief of
the nation, Burning Heart, ran through his village, calling out to his
warriors to remain quietly in their houses for the present, and not
show themselves to the enemy, or return their fire, in order to give
them time to tire out their horses by continued action. After a while a
few shots were returned, to prevent the Pawnees from rushing into the
town itself, and when the horses appeared to be sufficiently fatigued,
Burning Heart despatched two strong parties from the opposite end of
the village from that upon which the attack was made, one of which,
moving rapidly upon their hands and knees, gained a ravine, along which
they ran until they gained the enemy's rear: they were here joined by
the other party, which had gained the same situation by means of a
lower prairie, along the bank of which they passed unperceived. Finding
themselves thus out-generaled, the Pawnees were under the necessity of
charging through the enemy, and flying with jaded horses before them.
So rapid was the pursuit, that the Pawnees were obliged to precipitate
themselves into the ravines, over which they must pass, to the
destruction of many of their horses. Finally, they made their escape,
with the loss of eighty men, and the greater part of their horses.

When a hunting party is suddenly attacked by an enemy, the squaws,
whilst their husbands are engaged in opposing the enemy, sedulously
occupy themselves in digging basin-shaped pits with their hoes, for
their personal security, and stooping down in them, escape the missiles
of the contending parties; their husbands, if too hard pressed, also
retreat to these cavities, from which they can continue the action with
very little exposure of their own persons, whilst the enemy possesses
no shelter.

{26} Besides the national battles, in which great waste of life occurs,
small war parties, or such as have been already described, are almost
constantly in motion, and are also destructive.

The Serpent's Head, a distinguished Oto warrior, assembled a war
party of thirty men, and moved against the Konzas. Within a few
miles of their village, at a narrow defile on Blue-earth Creek, he
placed his party in ambush, and with two or three selected men, he
advanced to within a hundred yards of the village. At the dawn of
day a Konza, having occasion to walk a short distance, was attacked
by the Serpent's Head singly, who buried his tomahawk in his head,
and took off his scalp, within view of many of the villagers. These
seized their weapons, and immediately pursued the fugitives, until
they reached the pass, where, falling into the ambuscade prepared for
their reception, they lost seven of their number, and were obliged to
retreat precipitately, to seek the protection of the main body of their
warriors, who, they supposed, were now in pursuit, and at no great
distance in the rear.

The Otoes, after striking and scalping the slain, proceeded on their
way home, at a very moderate pace, not caring to elude the powerful
force, which they well knew must be hard by. The Konza warriors,
dashing on at full speed, at length discovered the retreating band,
moving at their leisure over a prairie, and immediately attacked them.
The Otoes withstood the shock of the overwhelming force for some time,
until, losing a number of their party, they were under the necessity of
seeking safety in flight.

An Oto hunting party, consisting of five lodges, was encamped in the
vicinity of the Konza hunting grounds; two or three of their number,
who were at a distance from their companions, encountered a young Konza
warrior, who deliberately approached {27} them, and when sufficiently
near discharged his gun at them, but was immediately shot down.

The Otoes suspecting, from some appearances, the proximity of a large
body of the enemy, precipitately returned to their party, and hastened
to place themselves in an attitude of defence. They availed themselves
of three large logs, which had fallen so as to form a triangular area,
into which they removed their effects, and strengthened the defences in
such a manner as to afford them some security.

The squaws dug cavities in the earth for themselves, and their
children, as an additional security.

Scarcely were these preparations finished, when the whole body of
the Konza warriors made their appearance, and commenced the attack
on this little body of fifteen Otoes. These gallant fellows, thus
advantageously posted, notwithstanding the fearful odds opposed to
them, returned the fire of the enemy promptly, and at length succeeded
in repulsing them, with the loss of two or three of their own men, and
after having killed about fifteen of the Konzas.

The following trait in the character of a distinguished warrior is
worthy of being recorded. During the residence of the Pawnees on the
Platte at the cedar hills, about fifteen or eighteen years since, the
Otoes were frequently at war with them, notwithstanding their own great
numerical inferiority. On one occasion, during a pacific interval,
some Otoes followed the Pawnees, who had just left their village on a
national hunt, and stole two horses from them. This outrage, committed
in time of peace, highly incensed Wasacaruja: "If you wish for war,"
said he to the offenders, as he mounted his horse, "you shall have it."
He rode immediately, in his anger, to the deserted Pawnee village, and
setting fire to the lodges, burned them all to the ground.

On their return, the Pawnees, finding their village destroyed, they
marched in a body to the Otoes, {28} and demanded satisfaction for the
injury they had received. Wasacaruja, perhaps, penitent for his rash
act, and no doubt now wishing to avert the hostilities which he had
incited, advanced to them at once, saying "I am the person who burned
your town, kill me if you will." This however the Pawnees declined,
and were at length reconciled to their loss, by presents of horses and
merchandize. They then removed from the vicinity of the Otoes, and
erected their present village on the Loup fork of the Platte.

The Otoes, as well as the Konza warriors, will not, on any
consideration, sit down whilst on a war excursion, until evening; they
will lie down, and stoop down, but they must not rest upon the ground
in a sitting posture.

An Upsaroka, or Crow, war party, who were hovering about the Rickaree
village, waiting an opportunity to strike a blow, observed a boy
entirely alone, and at a distance from any succour; having a boy
belonging to the party much of the same size, they permitted him to
attack the Rickaree boy singly; the assailant was successful, and
brought off the scalp of the enemy.

One of the warriors then took the scalp, and rode with it near to the
village in defiance.

During the last seven or eight years, since they have become influenced
by the agents of the United States, the Omawhaws have entirely
abstained from carrying the war into the country of their enemies; no
unprovoked parties have been sent out, and the nation, agreeably to the
injunctions of the agents, restricts its military operations solely to
defensive warfare. Partial attacks have been made upon them during
this time, which have always been promptly repelled, sometimes with
considerable slaughter.

That implicit confidence may be justly reposed upon, at least, some of
this people, the following anecdote will testify.

{29} In the year 1815 the Ioways came to the mouth of the Platte river,
and found there a trader engaged in trafficking with the Otoes. They
attempted to take possession of his merchandize by force, but were
opposed and repelled by the Otoes, who determined to protect their
trader. The Ioways, however, threatened the trader to plunder him as
soon as the Otoes should depart, whose provisions being now nearly
exhausted, the fears of the trader for his safety became more excited,
in proportion as the time of their departure approached. He despatched
a boy with a letter to his partner, Mr. Lisa, then trading at Council
Bluff, a distance of thirty miles, informing him of his situation, and
of the fact, which had but then come to his knowledge, that the Ioways
had formed a small party for the purpose of visiting Council Bluff, and
committing some depredations there.

On the reception of this intelligence, Mr. Lisa sent a favourite
Omawhaw, Wa-co-ra, to accompany the boy with his reply.

In the meantime the Ioway party had set out, and after travelling a
considerable distance, the partizan became lame, and was left with a
companion on the way.

Wacora, fortunately, did not meet the party, but he saw the partizan
with his companion, calmly seated in fancied security, amongst the
thick bushes. He crept silently near to them, who were distinctly
recognized by the boy, and discharging his gun, broke the arm of the
partizan's companion.

The partizan immediately perceiving the aggressor to be an Omawhaw,
exclaimed, "I am a half Omawhaw; I was going to war against the
Long-knives, not against the Omawhaws; shoot no more, you have wounded
one of us." Wacora answered, "I am a Long-knife," upon which the
wounded man made a charge with a lance, and had nearly transfixed the
boy, when Wacora shot him; he {30} afterwards killed the partizan, and
bore off their scalps. Finding now the trail of the party, which he
readily ascertained by their tracks, to consist of nine persons, he
determined to return immediately with his utmost speed, even at the
risk of meeting with the party, in order to inform Mr. Lisa of their
presence in his vicinity; this he accomplished at the imminent hazard
of his life. Thus proving that the most unlimited confidence might be
safely reposed in his faithful performance of his trusts.

Warriors often venture singly into the vicinity of an enemy's village,
and even into the village itself, to capture horses or kill one of the
nation. The Borgne, or One Eye, Ka-ko-a-kis, late grand chief of the
Minnetarees, entered the village of an enemy at night, with his robe
covering his head for concealment. He passed into several lodges, until
at length he found one tenanted, at the moment, only by a young squaw;
he drew his knife, compelled her to submit to his desires, then stabbed
her to the heart, and bore off her scalp. He was a chief possessed of
much power, but was almost universally disliked as a very bad man, and
was at length killed by the Red-shield chief, E-tam-ina-geh-iss-sha.[24]

[24] On Le Borgne see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v, note

The warriors often meet together and narrate, emulously, their war
exploits; two of them were one day thus engaged, one of whom, Wa-ke-da,
or the Shooter, had killed more enemies than any other individual
of his nation, although he had never _struck_ more than two or three
bodies of the slain. They continued for some time to boast of their
feats, when the father of Wakeda, an old man of seventy years, in
order to terminate the altercation, leaped from his seat, and, after
_striking_ upon several nations, concluded by the following witticism:
"I approached the Pawnee-mahaws alone, for the purpose of stealing
horses. I entered their village in the evening, succeeded in getting
into one of their stalls, and was proceeding to take out the horses,
when I was surrounded {31} and made prisoner. They flogged me, thrust
a stick into my anus, and sent me off, with the stick depending like a
tail." This, as was intended, terminated the boasting, and the parties
joined in general good humour.

Their notions of the attributes of bravery differ in many respects
from those which we entertain of them. It is, in their estimation, no
proof either of valour or good sense, for a warrior to advance into the
plain, stand still, and suffer his enemy to take deliberate aim, in
order to shoot him down, when such a course of conduct can be avoided;
but they say that when a warrior goes to battle, it is a duty, which
is due to himself, to his nation, and to his friends, to avail himself
of every possible advantage over his enemy, and even to kill him, if
he can, without any risk of his own person. But a warrior must never
yield in battle; he must contend until death, if he cannot escape from
his enemy. And if entirely surrounded, he rushes amongst them, and
endeavours to destroy or injure as many as possible, and in death he
exhibits traits of passive courage, which form no part of the character
of civilized men.

The succeeding narrative may serve, better than any general remarks,
to convey an idea of the formalities attendant on a negociation for
peace, amongst the Missouri Indians.

During the stay of our detached party at the Konza village, several
chief men of the nation requested Mr. Dougherty to lead a pacific
deputation from their nation, to their enemies the Otoes, Missouries,
and Ioways, then dwelling in one village on the Platte. Circumstances
then prevented the gratification of their wishes, but he gave them to
understand, that if the deputation would meet our party near Council
Bluff, he would probably then be authorized to bear them company; on
which they determined to send a party thither. Accordingly, on {32} the
day preceding the arrival of our steam-boat at the position chosen for
our winter cantonment, a deputation from the Konzas arrived for that
purpose. It consisted of six men, led by He-roch-che, or the Real War
Eagle, one of the principal warriors of the Konza nation.

Mr. Dougherty having made their pacific mission known to Major
O'Fallon, the latter expressed to them his cordial approbation of their
intentions, and the following day he despatched Mr. Dougherty with
them, to protect them by his presence, on their approach to the enemy,
and to assist them by his mediation, in their negociations, should it
be found necessary.

They had not proceeded far on the way, when one of the Indians inquired
if the Sioux war parties were often in the neighbourhood. Mr. Dougherty
informed them that they were; that they had killed an Oto some time
since, and more recently, four Omawhaw squaws. This intelligence
induced Herochshe to request the loan of Mr. Dougherty's gun; they all
looked sharply about them, and requested their guide to take the lead.

The distance to the Oto village is about twenty-five miles; on the
journey over the prairies, they espied an object at a distance,
which was mistaken for a man, standing upon an eminence. The Indians
immediately halted, when Herochshe addressed them, with the assurance
that they must put their trust in the Master of life, and in their
leader; and observed, that, having journeyed thus far on their
business, they must not return until their purpose was accomplished;
that if it was their lot to die, no event could save them; "We have set
out my braves,"[25] said he, "to eat of the Otoes' victuals, and we
must do so or die;" the party then proceeded {33} onward. The Indians
are always very cautious when approaching an enemy's village, on any
occasion, and this party well knew that their enterprize was full of

[25] When on a war excursion, or a pacific mission, the Indians always
address their companions in this manner: "My companion, my brave. My
brother, my brave."—JAMES.

In a short time they were again brought to a halt, by the appearance of
a considerable number of men and horses, that were advancing towards
them. After some consultation and reconnoitring, they sat down upon the
ground, and lighting the peace-pipe, or calumet, Herochshe directed
the stem of it towards the objects of their suspicion, saying, "smoke
friend or foe;" he then directed it towards the Oto village, towards
the white people, towards heaven, and the earth, successively.

The strangers, however, proved to be drovers, with cattle for the
troops, on their way to Council Bluff.

In consequence of being thus detained, it was late in the afternoon
when the party arrived at the Platte river, and as they had still eight
miles to travel, and it was indispensable to their safety that they
should reach the village before dark, Mr. Dougherty urged his horse
rapidly forwards. The Indians, who were all on foot, ran the whole
distance, halting but twice, in order to cross the Elk Horn and Platte
rivers, although one of them was upwards of sixty years of age, and
three of the others were much advanced in years.

As they drew near the Oto village, they were discovered by some boys,
who were collecting their horses together for the night, and who, in a
telegraphic manner, communicated intelligence of their approach, to the
people of the village, by throwing their robes into the air.

The party was soon surrounded by the inhabitants, who rushed towards
them, riding and running with the greatest impetuosity. The greatest
confusion reigned for some time, the Otoes shouting, hallooing, and
screaming, whilst their Konza visitors lamented aloud. Shaumonekusse
soon arrived, and restored a {34} degree of order, when, the business
of the mission being made known in a few words, the Konzas were taken
up behind some of the horsemen, and conveyed as rapidly as possible to
the lodge of Shongotongo, lest personal violence should be offered them
on the way. They did not, however, escape the audible maledictions of
the squaws as they passed, but were stigmatized as wrinkled-faced old
men, with hairy chins, &c., ugly faces, and flat noses.

After running this species of gauntlet, they were quietly seated in
the lodge, where they were sure of protection. A squaw, however,
whose husband had been recently killed by the Konzas, rushed into the
lodge, with the intention of seeking vengeance by killing one of the
ambassadors on the spot. She stood suddenly before Herochshe, and
seemed a very demon of fury. She caught his eye, and at the instant,
with all her strength, she aimed a blow at his breast with a large
knife, which was firmly grasped in her right hand, and which she seemed
confident of sheathing in his heart. At that truly hopeless moment,
the countenance of the warrior remained unchanged, and even exhibited
no emotion whatever; and when the knife approached its destination,
with the swiftness of lightning, his eyes stood firm, nor were its lids
seen to quiver; so far from recoiling, or raising his arm to avert the
blow, that he even rather protruded his breast, to meet that death
which seemed inevitable, and which was only averted by the sudden
interposition of the arm of one of her nation, that received the weapon
to its very bone.

Thus foiled in her attempt, the squaw was gently led out of the lodge,
and no one offered her violence, or even harsh reproof. No further
notice was taken of this transaction by either party.

Food was then, as usual, placed before the strangers, and soon after
a warrior entered with a pipe, which he held whilst Herochshe smoked,
saying in a loud voice, "you tell us that you wish for peace, I say, I
{35} will give you a horse, let us see which will be the liar, you or
I." The horse was presented to him.

The evening, and much of the night was passed in friendly conversation
respecting the events of the five years' war which they had waged with
each other.

On the following morning the Konzas were called to partake of the
hospitality of different lodges, whilst the principal men of the
village were assembled in council, to deliberate upon the subject of
concluding a peace.

At noon the joint and grand council was held in the Crenier's lodge.
The Otoes, Missouries, and Ioways took their seats around the
apartment, with the Konzas in the centre. Herochshe, whose business
it was first to speak, holding the bowl of the calumet in his hand,
remained immovable for the space of three-fourths of an hour, when
he arose, pointed the stem of the calumet towards each of the three
nations successively, then towards heaven, and the earth, after which
he stretched out his arm, with the palm of the hand towards the members
of the council, moving round with his body so as to present the palm
towards each of the members in succession. He then proceeded to shake
each individual by the hand, after which he returned to his place, and
renewed the motion of the hand as before.

Having performed all these introductory formalities, he stood firm
and erect, though perfectly easy and unconstrained, and with a bold
expression of countenance, loud voice, and emphatical gesticulation, he
thus addressed the council.

"Fathers, brothers, chiefs, warriors, and brave men. You are all great
men. I am a poor obscure individual. It has, however, become my duty to
inform you, that the chiefs and warriors of my nation, sometime ago,
held a council for the purpose of concerting measures, to terminate
amicably, the cruel and unwelcome war, that has so long existed between
us, and chose me, all insignificant as I am, to {36} bring to you this
pipe which I hold in my hand. I have visited your village, that we
might all smoke from the same pipe, and eat from the same bowl, with
the same spoon, in token of our future union in friendship.

"On approaching your village, my friends and relatives, I thought I had
not long to live. I expected that you would kill me, and these poor men
who have followed me. But I received encouragement from the reflection,
that if it should be my fate to die to-day, I would not have to die
to-morrow, and I relied firmly upon the Master of life.

"Nor was this anticipation of death unwarranted by precedent. You may
recollect that five winters ago, six warriors of my nation came to
you, as I have now done, and that you killed them all, but one, who had
the good fortune to escape. This circumstance was vivid in my memory
when I yesterday viewed your village in the distance; said I, those
warriors who preceded me in the attempt to accomplish this desirable
object, although they were greater and more brave than I, yet were
they killed by those whom they came to conciliate, and why shall not I
share their fate; if so, my bones will bleach near theirs. If, on the
contrary, I should escape death, I will visit the bones of my friends.
The oldest of my followers here, was father-in-law to the chief of
those slaughtered messengers; he is poor and infirm, and has followed
me with difficulty; his relatives, also, are poor, and have been long
lamenting the loss of the chief you killed. I hope you will have pity
on him, and give him a pair of mockasins (meaning a horse) to return
home with, for he cannot walk. Two or three others of my companions are
also in want of mockasins for their journey homeward.

"My friends! we wish for peace, and we are tired of war; there is a
large tract of country, intervening between us, from which, as it is
so constantly {37} traversed by our respective hostile parties, we
cannot either of us kill the game in security, to furnish our traders
with peltries. I wish to see a large level road over that country,
connecting our villages together, near which no one can conceal himself
in order to kill passengers, and that our squaws may be enabled to
visit from village to village in safety, and not be urged by fear, to
cast off their packs, and betake themselves to the thickets, when they
see any person on the route. Our nations have made peace frequently,
but a peace has not hitherto been of long duration. I hope, however,
that which we shall now establish will continue one day, two days,
three days, four days, five days. My friends! what I have told you is
true; I was not sent here to tell you lies. That is all I have to say."

Herochshe then lit his pipe, and presented the stem to the brother of
the Crenier, Wa-sac-a-ru-ja, or He who eats raw, who had formerly been
his intimate friend. The latter held the end of the stem in his hand,
whilst he looked Herochshe full in the face, for a considerable space
of time. At length he most emphatically asked, "Is all true that you
have spoken." The other, striking himself repeatedly and forcibly upon
the breast, answered with a loud voice, "Yes! It is all truth that I
have spoken." Wasacaruja, without any further hesitation, accepted the
proffered pipe, and smoked, whilst Herochshe courteously held the bowl
of it in his hand; the latter warrior then held it in succession to
each member of the council, who respectively took a whiff or two, after
which the pipe itself was presented to Wasacaruja to retain.

It is impossible to convey an adequate idea of the energy, and
propriety, with which this speech was delivered, or of the dignity
and self-possession of the speaker. Before he commenced, he hesitated
and looked around upon his enemies, probably in order to trace in the
lineaments of their countenances, the {38} expression of their feelings
towards him. He then began his address, by raising his voice at once to
its full intonation, producing a truly powerful effect upon the ear, by
a contrast with the deep and long continued silence which preceded it.
He was at no loss for subject or for words, but proceeded right onwards
to the close of his speech, like a full-flowing, bold, and impetuous

Wasacaruja, in consequence of having first accepted of the calumet,
was now regarded as responsible for the sincerity of his friend
Herochshe. He therefore arose, and thus addressed the ambassador. "My
friend! I am glad to see you on such an occasion as the present, and
to hear that your voice is for peace. But I can hardly believe that we
can ever rest in a permanent peace. A few winters ago, when we were in
friendship with each other, I visited your village, and you gave me
all your people, saying, that all the Konzas were mine. But it was not
long afterwards, as we hunted near your country, that you stole our
horses and killed some of our people, and I cannot but believe that
the same course will be again pursued. Nevertheless, I shall again
repair to the same place, of which I have spoken, this autumn, for the
purpose of hunting, and in the spring I will again visit your town. You
observed that you were apprehensive of being killed as you approached
our village; and you most probably would have been so, coming as you
did, late in the evening, and without the usual formality of sending a
messenger to apprize us of your approach, had you not been accompanied
by the Big-knife with whom you are so well acquainted. But we have now
smoked together, and I hope that the peace thus established, may long
continue. You say that you are in want of mockasins, we will endeavour
to give you one or two for your journey home. That is all I have to

Herochshe then apologized for his unceremonious {39} entrance into the
village, by saying that he knew it to be customary, to send forward a
runner on such an occasion, and he should have done so, but his friend,
the Big-knife, whom he had previously consulted with that view, told
him, that he had full confidence in the magnanimity of the Otoes.

Thus the ceremony was concluded, and peace restored between the two

Numerous are the anecdotes already related by various authors, which
go to show, that the desire of revenge for an injury or insult is
remarkably permanent with the North American Indian. It would almost
seem, that neither time nor circumstance can utterly eradicate it, and
it is certain that it is not always extinguished with the life of the
offended individual, but that it sometimes descends as an inheritance
to his posterity.

A Puncaw warrior was killed in a quarrel, over the carcass of a bison,
by a noted desperado of his own nation. The deceased left two sons, the
elder of whom, in the course of a few years, became of sufficient age
to hunt, and had the good fortune, in his first essay, to kill a fine
bison. Whilst he was occupied in taking off the skin from his prey,
he espied the murderer of his father approaching, who took his stand
near the young hunter, and regarded him with a stern aspect. "Look up,"
said the intruder; the young man proceeded with his occupation. "I
say, look at me;" reiterated the other, "do you know who I am? begone
from this carcass, it is mine." The young hunter then raised his eyes
to the countenance of him, whom he had long been taught to consider
as his enemy, and fiercely retorted the dark malignant scowl which
was concentrated there; then gathering his bow and arrows, he slowly
retired a short distance, and turning, perceived that the warrior had
already taken possession of his prize. "Yes," he exclaimed, bending his
bow, "I do know you well; you are the murderer of my {40} father, and
are the cause of my being an orphan." As he spoke, he discharged an
arrow, which pierced the heart of his enemy, who fell dead; the victor,
however, continued to feather his body with arrows, until his quiver
was exhausted. He then returned to the village and related his story
to the people, who rejoiced at the death of a common disturber of the
peace, and no one was found who wished to revenge his death.

Vengeance is sometimes transferred from an immediate to a remote
object. The Otoes being on one occasion encamped near Mr. Lisa's
trading establishment, many of their number became intoxicated with
whiskey, and troublesome to the traders. But in order that the latter
might not receive personal injury, two warriors were appointed by
the chiefs to stand guard at the door of the house, with orders to
repel all drunken individuals. Having consumed all the whiskey that
had been given them, they clamorously demanded more, but the trader
persisted in refusing it to them. Incensed at this denial, the grand
chief Shongatonga, who was himself slightly intoxicated, went into
the house, and meeting one of the traders near the door, he gave him
a slight push with his hand, unobserved by Hashea, the Cut-nose, who
was then on guard. The act, however, was perceived by an Indian who
reclined against an outhouse, at a little distance, smoking his pipe.
He advanced, apparently with perfect indifference, and taking up a
keg, the only weapon which presented, he approached Shongatonga, and
discharged it with all his strength, full upon the head of that chief,
who was knocked down senseless by the violence of the blow.

The Little Soldier, a brother-in-law of Shongatonga, who was present
at this assault, immediately seized his tomahawk, and making a threat,
rushed out of the house, his silver armbands and other ornaments, with
which he is usually profusely decorated, {41} sounding as he passed; he
halted for an instant at the door, in order to distinguish some object
on which to wreak his vengeance; espying amongst the crowd of Otoes,
one from whom he had received an injury fifteen years before, which
deprived him of the sight of one eye, he pursued him, and with a blow
of his tomahawk brought him to the ground; this unfortunate individual,
like his victor, had also lost an eye, and in this rencontre the
remaining one was destroyed.

Hashea, the guard, observing that the Indians were becoming very
disorderly, drew his knife, declaring that he would kill the first
individual of them he could meet with, and pursuing the canaille,
they fled in every direction. During this interval an inferior Indian
entered the store, and pointing with his finger near to the face of
Mr. Lisa, said in a threatening tone, "You are the cause of all this
disturbance;" the latter immediately kicked him out of the house; on
which the Indian in a rage, declared he would revenge himself for an
injury so gross. Seeking some object to destroy, he encountered a sow
and pigs, and appeased his rage by putting them all to death. The
Little Soldier now returned, and found that his relative had recovered.
Order was at length restored by the mediation of Mr. Dougherty.

But instances are not rare, in which an Indian is unwilling to punish
an injury inflicted on himself, even when retaliation is amply in
his power. As the troops were ascending the river, as usual, by the
aid of the cordelle, several Oto Indians were sitting on the river
bank at the establishment of the Missouri fur company, quietly
smoking their pipes, and apparently much interested in the movements
before them. One of them was accosted by a soldier, who had left his
cordelle for the purpose, with an offer to purchase the pipe he was
then using; but the Indian would not part with it, saying, he had
no other to bear him company in his hunting excursions. {42} The
soldier requested permission to examine it, but as soon as the Indian
put the pipe into his hands, he twisted the bowl from the handle
and ran off with it. The Indian in company with one of the traders,
immediately pursued the thief to his boat, and demanded the pipe;
but obtaining no satisfaction, he came to Engineer Cantonment, and
stated the circumstance to Major O'Fallon, who assured him that his
influence should not be wanting to procure the pipe again, and to have
the offender punished by a very severe whipping. The Indian, however,
with more mercy than justice, replied, that he would extremely regret
the infliction of any punishment whatever upon the soldier, and he
desired it might not be done; all he wished for was the recovery of his

The Omawhaws consider themselves superior, in the scale of beings, to
all other animals, and appear to regard them as having been formed for
their benefit. They will sometimes say, when speaking of a bad person,
"he is no better than a brute." It is true that a magician tells his
auditors that "a grizzly bear whispered in my ear, and gave me this
medicine:" but his meaning is that the Wahconda, in the shape of that
animal, had communicated with him.

Neither do they seem to suppose that the inferior animals accompany
them to the other world, though they expect to pursue their occupation
of hunting there.

In their opinion, the Wahconda has been more profuse in his
distribution of gifts to the white people, than to the red-skins;
particularly in imparting to us the knowledge of letters, whereby the
result of experience is so readily transmitted from one person to
another, so as to seem like the operation of some great mystic medicine.

But they claim a superiority in natural intelligence, and readily
perceive that they are more {43} active, have a greater capacity for
undergoing, with fortitude, the many evils to which they are subject
in every situation and season, such as exposure to great heat and
cold, hunger, thirst, and pain. They appear to esteem themselves more
brave, more generous and hospitable to strangers than the white people;
and these beneficent virtues with them, like the mental operations of
faith, hope, and charity of the Christians, mark the perfect man.

They regard the white people, as very deficient in one of these
cardinal virtues. They have been told by Indians, who have visited our
settlements, that on entering the lodge of a white man, they will be
informed that he has eaten his dinner, he will not, at least, set any
food before them, and if they remain in the house, nothing is offered
them until night, and even then, probably, but a stinted portion. The
meanness of such demeanour they despise.

If a white man, or any stranger, enters the habitation of an Indian,
he is not asked if he has dined, or if he is hungry, but independently
of the time of the day or night, the pot is put upon the fire, and if
there is but a single pound of meat in the possession of the family,
that pound is cooked and set before him, and even if he has but just
arisen from a feast, he must taste of the food, or offence is given.
History has recorded, with high commendation, the name of a dethroned
Christian monarch, who shared his last loaf of bread with a suppliant
stranger; and surely a similar act in the Indian, although it be
influenced by education and custom, is entitled to respect and applause.

They look upon the traffic in the necessaries of life, such as meat
and maize, amongst the individuals of a nation, as contemptible. Such
commerce they consider as a very unfavourable trait in the character of
the white man; they, however, avail themselves of it in their dealings
with him, provided he wants a considerable supply of those necessaries.

{44} The food which is set before a guest, is, in every respect,
considered as exclusively his own; he may give it to whom he may think
proper, either within or without the lodge; he may even take it with
him to his own lodgings, but the including vessel, must, in either
case, be returned.

Much more food is usually served up to a guest than he can possibly
eat, and when he has satisfied his hunger, if he return the remainder
to the host, the latter thanks him for it, as if he had received a

So exemplary is their hospitality, that every stranger, even an enemy,
is protected in the habitation of an Omawhaw, as far as the power and
influence of the owner extends; he is immediately invited to sit down,
and no questions are put to him. The master of the house is evidently
ill at ease, until the food is prepared for eating, he will request
his squaws to expedite it, and will even stir the fire himself. When
the guest has finished his meal, the pipe is handed to him to smoke,
after which the conversation begins either vocally or by signs. As soon
as it is known that a stranger is in the village, he is invited to
various feasts, at each of which he must reciprocate the politeness of
the host, by partaking of his fare; the stranger is not unfrequently
followed from lodge to lodge by several persons, who wish to secure him
as a guest in their turn.

In the kindest spirit of hospitality, they are always careful to treat
their guests in the manner which they suppose will be most agreeable to
them. A trader was invited to a feast, and the food being prepared, a
squaw who was about to serve it up, in order to clean a bowl to contain
it, began to scoop it with her curved finger. Her husband observing
this usual mode of depuration, reprimanded her, saying, "I have told
you that the white people do not like to see bowls cleaned in that
manner, give me the vessel, and I will show you how they clean {45}
them." He then drew out one corner of his breech-clout, and substituted
it for a towel, wiped the bowl thoroughly, and returned it to the
squaw. The trader, as in duty bound, tasted of the contents, but he
would have preferred the agency of the finger of the squaw, to that of
the old breech-clout of the husband.

An unknown stranger is led to the lodge of the principal chief, where
the inhabitants collect to see him, and do not hesitate to gratify
their curiosity, by looking steadfastly in his face. The stranger, if
an Indian, appears perfectly at his ease, not seeming to notice the
crowd that surrounds him, in order that he may not encounter their
eyes. After he has eaten and smoked, he delivers his message, states
his business, or tells the news. If he is seated in a small skin lodge,
which contains but few persons, one of these will repeat his words
aloud, that the crowd without may hear.

They are pleased with the society of the Canadian French, but they
do not appear to respect them highly, because they permit too much
familiarity, and are not forward in revenging an insult. The Spaniards,
probably from the representations of the Pawnees, who war against
them, are held in but little esteem. But it is readily perceivable,
as well from their own deportment as from the representations of the
French, that they respect the character of the Americans (citizens of
the United States) above that of any other nation, because, they are
pleased to say, we are the bravest of the white people. Previously
to the late war between the United States and Great Britain, the
British are said to have been deemed most valorous. But, say they, the
Ioways have informed us, that, at the commencement of the war, the
British promised to give the Indians who took part with them in the
contest, all the territory that lies westward of a great river, (the
Ohio,) over which they declared they would drive {46} the Americans.
Their subsequent inability to comply with this promise, together with
an indistinct idea of some of the conflicts, both by land and water,
on our Canadian frontier, lead them to suppose that the Americans
conquered in that war, and that they are now the most powerful of the
nations of the earth.

Like the ancients the Indians have no rhymes in their poetry. They
imitate the sounds of the voice of various animals, and of some, with
so much success, as to deceive even such persons as are familiar with
the animals thus imitated. This mimicry extends to the voices of the
bear, bison, deer, wolves, prairie dog, turkey, owl, &c. together with
those of some smaller birds, the notes of which are simple. But in
these imitations we knew of no individual, whose art enabled him to
execute so great a variety of notes, and with so much melody, as we
have heard from civilized performers, who have publicly exhibited their
talents in this way, in our cities.

An Indian at his temporary night encampment, hearing the unexpected
cry of an owl, wolf, &c., is generally suspicious of its proceeding
from a human enemy, who is thus endeavouring to lull him into fancied
security; such sounds being often made by war parties, on their
nocturnal approach to their victims, to induce a belief that the
animals around them are undisturbed.

They also imitate the motions of different animals, playfully,
sometimes grotesquely, in their dances.


    Tribes and Bands—Fabulous Legends—Wit—Ninnegahe, or Mixed

THE Omawhaw nation is divided into two principal sections or tribes,
which are distinguished by the names Honga-sha-no and Ish-ta-sun-da;
the latter means Grey Eyes.

The first-mentioned tribe is subdivided into eight bands, viz.

1. _Wase-ish-ta._—This band is interdicted from eating the flesh of
male deer or male elk, in consequence of having their great medicine,
which is a large shell, enveloped in the prepared skin of those
animals. The chief of this band is the Big Elk, Ongpatungah; and it is
more powerful and numerous in individuals than either of the others.

The shell, which is regarded as an object of great sanctity and
superstitious reverence, by the whole nation, has been transmitted from
the ancestry of this band, and its origin is unknown. A skin lodge
or temple is appropriated for its preservation, in which a person
constantly resides, charged with the care of it, and appointed its
guard. It is placed upon a stand, and is never suffered to touch the
earth. It is concealed from the sight by several envelops, which are
composed of strands of the proper skins, plaited and joined together in
the form of a mat. The whole constitutes a parcel of considerable size,
from which various articles are suspended, such as tobacco and roots of
certain plants.

No person dares to open all the coverings of this sacred deposit, in
order to expose the shell to view. {48} Tradition informs them, that
curiosity induced three different persons to examine the mysterious
shell, who were immediately punished for their profanation, by instant
and total loss of sight. The last of these offenders, whose name is
Ish-ka-tappe, is still living. It was ten years since that he attempted
to unveil the sacred shell, but, like his predecessors, he was visited
by blindness, which still continues, and is attributed by the Indians,
as well as by himself, to his committing of the forbidden act.

This shell is taken with the band to all the national hunts, and is
transported by means of a hoppas on the back of a man.

Previously to undertaking a national expedition against an enemy, the
sacred shell is consulted as an oracle. For this purpose, the magi of
the band seat themselves around the great medicine lodge, the lower
part of which is then thrown up like curtains, and the exterior envelop
is carefully removed from the mysterious parcel, that the shell may
receive air. A portion of the tobacco, consecrated by being long
suspended to the skin mats, or coverings of the shell, is now taken
and distributed to the magi, who fill their pipes with it, to smoke to
the great medicine. During this ceremony, an individual occasionally
inclines his head forward, and listens attentively to catch some sound
which he expects to issue from the shell. At length some one imagines
that he hears a sound like that of a forced expiration of air from
the lungs, or like the noise made by the report of a gun at a great
distance. This is considered as a favourable omen, and the nation
prepare for the projected expedition with a confidence of success.
But, on the contrary, should no sound be perceived, the issue of the
expedition would be considered doubtful.

2. _Enk-ka-sa-ba._—This band will not eat red maize. They ascribe to
their family the greatest antiquity, and declare that their first man
emerged {49} from the water, with an ear of red maize in his hand. The
principal chief is Ishkatappe.

3. _Wa-sa-ba-eta-je_; or, those who do not touch bears.—This band
refrains from eating the flesh of bears.

4. _Ka-e-ta-je_, or those who do not touch turtles or tortoises.

5. _Wa-jinga-e-ta-je_, or those who do not touch any kind of bird,
excepting the war-eagle.

6. _Hun-guh._—This band does not eat white cranes, as the down of that
bird is their medicine.

7. _Kon-za._—This band must not touch the green clay, or even
verdigrise, both of which are used as pigments by the other bands, for
ornamenting their persons.

8. _Ta-pa-taj-je._—This band must not touch deers' heads, neither must
they wear deer-skin mockasins. Many of the individuals of this band are
partially gray haired. This change of the hair, which they consider as
a deformity, is attributed to a violation of the abovementioned laws
prescribed by their medicine.

The second division, or tribe _Ishtasunda_, is subdivided into five

1. _Ta-pa-eta-je._—This band does not touch bison heads.

2. _Mon-eka-goh-ha_, or the earth-makers.—Of this band was the
celebrated Black Bird. They are not forbidden the use of any aliment;
and are said to have originated the present mode of mourning, by
rubbing the body with whitish clay.

3. _Ta-sin-da_, or the bison tail.—This band does not eat bison calves,
in the first year of the age of that animal.

4. _Ing-gera-je-da_, or the red dung.—This name is said to have
originated from the circumstance of this band having formerly
quarrelled, and separated themselves from the nation, until, being
nearly {50} starved, they were compelled to eat the fruit of the wild
cherry-tree, until their excrement became red.

5. _Wash-a-tung._—This band must not touch any of the reptilia class of

Each of these animals, or parts of animals, which the bands
respectively are forbidden to touch or eat, is regarded as the
particular mysterious medicine of the band collectively, to which it

This singular, and, to us, absurd law, of interdiction, is generally
rigidly observed; and a violation of it, they firmly believe, will
be followed by some signal judgment, such as blindness, gray hairs,
or general misfortune. Even should the forbidden food be eaten
inadvertently, or but tasted through ignorance, sickness they believe
would be the inevitable consequence, not only to the unfortunate
individual himself, but involving his wife and children also.

The name of one of the bands of the Puncaw nation is _Wa-jaja_,
corresponding to the name which the Osages acknowledge, which is

We have before observed, that they take great pleasure in relating and
hearing the narration of fabulous legends. The following specimen will
serve to exemplify their taste in this way.

A bison bull, an ant, and a tortoise, agreed to undertake a joint war
excursion, against the village of a neighbouring nation. As the latter
associate was a slow walker, it was mutually decided in council, that
he should set out on the journey immediately, to be followed in a
short time by his more active companions. The tortoise accordingly
departed alone, making his way through the grass, with as much rapidity
as possible. After a proper interval had elapsed, the bull also set
out; and lest he should lose his fellow traveller, he consented to
take him on his back. On their way the two champions were obliged to
cross a miry place, in the midst of which they overtook the tortoise,
struggling onward with {51} the utmost labour, and apparently almost
exhausted. They did not fail, as they passed gaily by the sluggish
reptile, to express their surprise at his unusually tardy movements,
and at the circumstance of his being apparently almost subdued by the
first obstacle that presented itself. The tortoise, however, not at all
discouraged, requested them to continue their journey, and expressed
his confident expectation of being able to extricate himself from the
mire, without the aid which they did not seem forward in offering to
him. The two companions arrived at the village of the enemy, and were
so incautious in their approaches to it, as to be discovered by the
inhabitants, who sallied out upon them, and succeeded in wounding
them both. The tortoise at length reached the village, and was also
discovered, but had the additional misfortune of being taken prisoner.

To punish him for his presumption, the enemy resolved to put him
to death in such a manner as would be most painful to him. They
accordingly threatened him successively with a number of different
forms of torture, such as baking in hot embers, boiling, &c., with each
of which the captive artfully expressed his entire satisfaction. They
finally proposed to drown him; and this mode of punishment being so
earnestly protested against by the tortoise, they determined to carry
it into immediate execution.

With this view, several of the enemy carried him out into a deep part
of the river, and threw him in.

The tortoise, thus released, and, through the ignorance of the captors
in the art of torturing, abandoned to an element in which he could act
freely and with much power, dived down from their view, and rising
again, dragged two or three of them under water successively, and
scalped them. Then rising above the surface of the water, he exhibited
the scalps triumphantly to the enemy, who stood in {52} crowds upon the
bank of the river, unable to injure him. Content with his fortunate
achievement, the tortoise now journeyed homeward; and on arriving at
his lodge, he found there the bull and ant, both in bed, groaning
piteously with their wounds.

Upon the reality of such stories, many of the auditors seem to rely
with implicit faith, particularly as their occurrence is referred to
the chronology of former times, by such a prefatory notice as "once
upon a time." The narrator proceeds with a degree of gravity of feature
suitable to the nature of the events of his story; and notes a variety
of little circumstances in detail, which contribute much to give the
whole an air of truth to his auditors, who listen with an undivided
attention, uttering occasionally an interjection, as their feelings are

That the inferior animals did, in ancient times, march to battle
with simultaneous regularity, that they conversed intelligibly, and
performed all the different actions of men, many of them appear to
admit, with as much faith as many equally absurd doctrines are believed
in Christendom. But these qualities are supposed to be no longer
inherent; and if an animal should now speak with the voice of man, it
is either the effect of the immediate inspiration of the Wahconda, or
the apparent animal is no other than the Wahconda himself incarnate.

The Indians sometimes indulge in pleasantry in their conversation; and
Shaumonekusse seemed to be eminently witty—a quality strongly indicated
by his well-marked features of countenance. Their wit, however, is
generally obscene, particularly when in conversation with the squaws.

Washingguhsahba, conversing familiarly with a Frenchman, who had
long resided in the Omawhaw village, observed that the white people,
being in the habit of reading books with the desire of acquiring
knowledge, probably knew the cause of the difference of colour which
exists between themselves and {53} the Indian; he therefore requested
information from the Frenchman on this subject. The latter, assuming an
air of great gravity, assured him that the cause was very well known,
and was no other than that the Indian was formed of red horse-dung.
The chief, with every appearance of candour, which, however, he did
not feel, instantly placed his hand on the arm of his companion, and
replied that this observation was a convincing proof of the great
knowledge of the white people, and that they were perfectly familiar
with the early operations of the Master of Life. He had no doubt, he
said, that they were equally well informed as to the matter out of
which they were themselves formed; but if he, a poor ignorant Indian,
with no knowledge but his own, might venture to give his opinion, he
would say, that they were formed of the excrement of the dog, baked
white in the prairie.

They sometimes employ an indirect method of communicating information,
and of explaining some particular acts of their own, which may have
been erroneously construed by others.

Several Omawhaws, accompanied by a Frenchman, one day passed our
cantonment, on their way to the trading house, with a considerable
quantity of jerked meat. On their return they visited us; when one of
them, who amused himself by turning over the leaves of a book in search
of pictures, being asked by a squaw, in a jocular manner, what the book
said, replied, "It tells me, that when we were taking our meat to the
trading house, we wished to present some of it to white people on the
way, but that the Frenchman would not permit us to do so." This remark
explained the reason of their having offered us no meat.

An Indian, observing that one of our men, when cutting wood, uttered
the interjection _hah!_ at each blow with the axe, smiled; and asked if
it assisted him, or added force to the blow.

{54} The Kinnecanick, or, as the Omawhaws call it, _Ninnegahe_, mixed
or made tobacco, which they use for smoking in their pipes, is composed
partly of tobacco, and partly of the leaves of the sumack (rhus
glabrum); but many prefer to the latter ingredient, the inner bark of
the red willow (cornus sericea); and when neither of the two latter can
be obtained, the inner bark of the arrow wood (viburnum) is substituted
for them. These two ingredients are well dried over the fire, and
comminuted together by friction between the hands.

Their pipes are neatly made of the red indurated clay, which they
procure from the red pipestone branch of the Sioux river.[26] The mass
is readily cut with a common knife.

[26] The pipestone quarry is in Pipestone County, Minnesota, on
Pipestone Creek, a branch of the Big Sioux. See J. Long's _Voyages_, in
our volume ii, note 43.—ED.

They frequently eject the smoke through the nostrils, and often inhale
it into the lungs, from which it is gradually ejected again as they
converse, or in expiration.

An Omawhaw, after an eructation of wind from the stomach, is often
heard to say, "_How-wa-ne-ta_," thank you, animal; which they explain
by saying, that some animal has presented itself to the hunter. The
exclamation, however, has but an obscure meaning, and may be compared
as somewhat similar to the "God bless you" of the French, after the
convulsion of sneezing.

They indulge much in the pleasures of dancing, and their dances are of
various denominations; of which the following may be particularized.

The calumet dance, _nin-ne-ba-wa-wong_, is a very favourite dance.
It is usually performed by two individuals, in honour, and in the
presence, of some one of their own or of a neighbouring nation,
with the expectation of receiving presents in return. A person who
intends to perform this dance sends a messenger, bearing a small skin
containing tobacco to fill a pipe, to the individual whom he intends to
honour. If the proposed compliment should not be {55} acceptable, it is
refused in the most courteous manner, with excuses based upon poverty,
and with many thanks for the honour intended. If, on the contrary, the
tobacco should be accepted and smoked, the act shows that the visit
also will be acceptable; and a time is fixed for the performance of
the ceremony. At the appointed time, the dancers, with two selected
companions, repair to the place of their destination, and are invited
into the lodge of the person whom they addressed. After a short time,
the calumet is placed upon a forked support, which is driven into the
soil in the back part of the lodge. Notice is then given to the bearer
of the calumet respecting the time when it will be convenient for the
dance to take place. The bearer of the calumet is now considered as the
_father_, and addresses the individual whom he is about to honour by
the title of _son_, presenting him with some valuable articles; such as
a gun, kettle, blankets, and clothing and ornaments for his youngest
child, who is destined to represent the father, or the adopted son, at
the ensuing ceremony.

At sunset the calumet is taken from the forked stick, or support,
enveloped like an infant in swaddling clothes, and placed carefully in
a bed, prepared for its reception; a lullaby is then sung, accompanied
by the music of the rattle, for its quiet repose. On the following
morning it is _awakened_ by a song, with the same music, and again
consigned to its forked support. The appointed day having arrived, a
space of sufficient diameter, is enclosed by a skreen of skins for
the dance, and a post is fixed in the earth, near the entrance to the
area. Around this area the principal men of the nation seat themselves;
the adopted son leads in his youthful representative; and the two
dancers, decorated with paint, and entirely destitute of clothing, with
the exception of the breech-cloth, commence the dance. They are each
provided with a decorated calumet stem, and a rattle {56} of dried
skin, or a gourd, containing pebbles, with which to keep time to the
music of the gong, and to the vocal chanting of the musicians of the
village. They dance in the ordinary manner of the Indians, and pass
backwards and forwards between the entrance and back part of the area,
endeavouring to exhibit as much agility as possible in their movements,
throwing themselves into a great variety of attitudes imitative of the
actions of the war eagle, preserving at the same time a constant waving
motion with the calumet in the left hand, and agitating the gourd in
the right, more or less vehemently, agreeably to the music.

Warriors and braves will now bring forward presents of horses, guns,
&c. The bridle of the horse is attached to the post, by the donor, who
receives the thanks of an old crier, stationed there to perform that
duty. The music now ceases, whilst the donor _strikes the post_, and
recounts his martial deeds, and boasts of the presents which he has
made at different times on similar occasions. Sometimes during the
ceremony, a warrior will take the gong from the performer, and strike
upon it as many times as he has achieved brave and generous actions; he
then sets it down, and no one must dare to touch it, but such as can
strike upon it more frequently than the first; if this is done, the
gong is returned to the performer.

The calumet dance sometimes continues two or three days; but each
night the calumet is consigned to its repose in the bed, with the same
ceremonies as those of the first night.

When all the presents have been made which the dancers have reason to
expect, they depart immediately with them to their own nation or lodge.

Instead of striking the post, the donors sometimes strike lightly upon
the persons of the dancers themselves.

The presents sometimes made at these dances are very considerable.
Ongpatunga once danced the {57} calumet to Tarrarecawaho, the grand
Pawnee chief, and received from him between eighty and ninety horses.
The Pawnees are indeed distinguished both for their liberality and
dexterity at this ceremony. They gave one hundred and forty horses
last autumn to the Otoes, who performed this dance at their village.
A party of Pawnees once danced at the Omawhaw village, and gave so
much satisfaction to many individuals of this nation, as to receive
extraordinary presents from them. On this occasion, one person, in the
warmth of his feelings, brought forth his child, and presented it to
them, as the most precious gift in his power to bestow. The Pawnees
accepted this gift; but on their departure, they returned the child to
its parent, accompanied by the present of a fine horse, upon which it
was mounted.

The dance of discovering the enemy.—This dance is sometimes performed
in honour of strangers; at other times, chiefs are invited by the
warriors, who wish to exhibit their generosity in presenting them
with horses, and to detail their own warlike feats in the ceremony of
striking the post. The chiefs, on this occasion, seat themselves in a
circle, on the outside of which the warriors are also seated in a ring
or circle, concentric with that of the chiefs.

These arrangements being completed, the music strikes up, and a warrior
advances, who takes a war-club and _crow_, provided for the purpose;
the latter of which he belts around his waist. He then dances with a
slow, shuffling motion, around the exterior circle, exhibiting at the
same time a pantomimic representation of his combats with the enemy.

By and by the music beats a quicker time, and calls for corresponding
movements on the part of the dancer, until at length both cease
simultaneously. The warrior then advances to the post, which he strikes
with his club, and proceeds to detail one of his deeds of war. This
done, the music recalls him {58} to the dance, and after a short time
again ceases, that he may continue his chivalric history.

This alternate dance and recitation continues until the tale of the
warrior is told; when he resigns his crow and war-club to another, who
continues the amusement in like manner. Most of the dancers present
horses to the chiefs, after the performing of their respective parts;
and it is generally the case, that each chief invited is rewarded with
one of those animals in return for the honour of his attendance.

The bear dance, _Mot-chu-wat-che_.—This is a _medicine_ dance, not
distinguished by any very remarkable traits. The dancers, however,
imitate the motions of the bear; and songs, in which there are many
words, are sung.

The beggar dance.—This has been already described in our account of the
visit of the Otoes, at our cantonment last autumn. This is probably the
dance mentioned by Carver, in page 158. of his work; the performance of
which, on his landing near Lake Pepin, by a party of Chippeways, was
the cause of much alarm to his party.[27]

[27] For sketch of Jonathan Carver, see J. Long's _Voyages_, in our
volume ii, note 5.—ED.

The bison dance, _Ta-nuguh-wat-che_.—The performers in this dance are
painted black, and are naked from the waist upward, with the exception
of the head dress, which is composed of the skin of the head of a
bison, the face of which is cut off and rejected; so adapted to the top
of their head as to resemble a cap, the horns projecting forward in
such a manner as to correspond with their appearance when on the head
of the bison. Attached to this head dress, is a strip of the skin from
the back of the bison, which hangs down behind to the buttocks, like a
tail. In the evolutions of the dance, they imitate the actions of the

Amongst the Minnetarees, is a ceremony called the corn dance; which,
however, has but little claim to the title of a dance. Notice being
given of this ceremony, by the village criers, the squaws repair to
{59} the medicine lodge, in which the magi are seated, performing
their incantations, carrying with them a portion of each kind of seed
which they respectively intend to plant the ensuing season; as an
ear of maize, some pumpkin, water-melon, or tobacco-seed. These are
attached to the end of small sticks, which are stuck in the ground, so
as to form a right line in front of the magi. The squaws then strip
themselves entirely of their garments, and take their seats before the
spectators. The magi then throw themselves into a violent agitation,
singing, leaping about, pointing to the sky, the earth, the sun, and
the north star, successively. After these paroxysms have subsided, the
squaws arise; and each one taking her respective sticks, holds them up
with extended arms.

One of the magi being provided with a large bunch of a species of
bitter herb, dips it in a vessel of water, and sprinkles copiously the
seeds and persons of the squaws, with much grotesque gesticulation.
This concludes the ceremony; when the seeds are supposed to be
fertilized, and to be capable of communicating their fertility to any
quantity of their kind.

The women then assume their clothing, and return home, being careful
to deposit the fertilized seed with their stock; after which they may
proceed to planting as soon as they please.

We were informed that on some particular occasion, a large enclosure
was constructed in the village of the Minnetarees, which was covered
with jerked meat, instead of skins. The distinguished warriors who
were concerned in the ceremony about to take place, deputed some
of their party to summon a certain number of the handsomest young
married squaws of the village, who immediately repaired to {60} the
meat-covered lodge, with the consent of their husbands. The squaws were
then disrobed in the midst of a considerable number of the bravest of
the Minnetaree warriors; and after the conclusion of some ceremonies a
_brave_ entered, leading by the halter a very fine horse. He selected
a squaw, whose beauty struck his fancy; and advancing to her, he laid
the cord of the halter in her hand. She accepted the present, and
immediately admitted him to her favour. Other warriors appeared in
succession, leading horses, all of which were very readily disposed of
in the same manner. This ceremony occurred during the day, and in the
presence of the whole assembly.

In the same nation a singular night dance is, it is said, sometimes
held. During this amusement an opportunity is given to the squaws
to select their favourites. A squaw, as she dances, will advance
to a person with whom she is captivated, either for his personal
attractions, or for his renown in arms, she taps him on the shoulder,
and immediately runs out of the lodge, and betakes herself to the
bushes, followed by the favourite. But if it should happen, that he
has a particular preference for another, from whom he expects the same
favour, or if he is restrained by a vow, or is already satiated with
indulgence, he politely declines her offer, by placing his hand in her
bosom. On which they return to the assembly and rejoin the dance. It is
worthy of remark that in the language of the Omawhaws the word _watche_
applies equally to the amusement of dancing, and to sexual intercourse;
but to avoid being misunderstood in speaking of the former they
sometimes add the word gaha, _to make_.[28]

[28] This paragraph, found in the Philadelphia edition, is replaced by
asterisks in the London issue.—ED.

What length of time the Omawhaws have resided on the Missouri is
unknown; but it seems highly probable that they were not there when
Mr. Bourgmont[29] performed his journey to the Padoucas, in the
year 1724, as he makes no mention whatever of them. It would seem,
indeed, that they had separated from the great migrating nation, that
we shall further notice below, on or near the Mississippi, and that
they had since passed slowly across the country, or perhaps up the
St. Peter's,[30] until they finally struck {61} the Missouri at the
mouth of the Sioux river. This is rendered highly probable by the
circumstance of Carver having met with them on the St. Peter's in the
year 1766, associated with the Shienne and others, all of whom he
represents as bands of the Naudowessie nation.[31]

[29] Etienne Vényard, Sieur de Bourgmont (Bourmont, Boismont,
Bournion), the builder of Fort Orleans, just below the mouth of Grand
River, the first post established on the Missouri (1722 or 1723),
undertook an expedition therefrom during the summer of 1724, under
instructions from the government of Louisiana, for the purpose of
making treaties of friendship with the tribes of the plains. For his
journal, see Margry, _Découvertes et Etablissements des Français_, vi,
pp. 398-448.—ED.

[30] St. Peter's was the former name of the Minnesota River.—ED.

[31] See Dorsey, "Migrations of Siouan Tribes," in _American
Naturalist_, xv, p. 211; also Nuttall's _Journal_, in our volume xiii,
note 84.—ED.

The Oto nation of Indians is distinguished by the name of
_Wah-toh-ta-na_. The permanent village of this nation is composed of
large dirt lodges, similar to those of the Konzas and Omawhaws, and
is situate on the left bank of the river Platte, or Nebraska, about
forty miles above its confluence with the Missouri. Although this
nation distinguish themselves by the name of Wahtohtata, yet when
questioned respecting the signification of the word, they say it ought
to be pronounced Wah-toh-ta-na, or Wa-do-tan, which means those who
will copulate. This singular designation which they have adopted, was
applied to the nation in consequence of their chief, at the period of
their separation from the Missouries on the Mississippi, having carried
off a squaw from that nation. The nation is, however, only known to the
white people by the name of Oto, Otto, or Othouez.

It thus appears, that their name has been adopted subsequently to
the migration and partition of the great nation of which they were
formerly but a band. This great nation, they say, originally resided
somewhere to the northward of the great lakes; and on their emigration
southwardly, after performing a considerable journey, a large band of
them, called Ho-ro-ge, or Fish Eaters, from their fondness of fish,
separated from the main body, and established their residence on the
margin of a lake. This band is now known by the name of Winnebagoe.[32]

[32] On the Winnebago, see J. Long's _Voyages_, in our volume ii, note

During the journey of the great nation, another band separated from
them on the Mississippi, and received the name of _Pa-ho-ja_, or Gray
Snow, which they still retain; but are known to the white people by the
name of Ioways, or Aiaouez. They have, {62} however, been distinguished
by the name of _Pierced-noses_, as this was erroneously believed to
be the meaning of the word Pahoja; and it will be confessed that the
distinction is somewhat nice, when we learn that the true word for
pierced nose is _pa-o-ja_.

Another band seceded from the migrating nation, and established a
village at the mouth of the Missouri river; from which circumstance
they received the name of _Ne-o-ta-cha_ or _Ne-o-ge-he_, signifying
_those who build a town at the entrance of a river_; they have been
known to us only by the name of Missouries.

The Otoes also separated from the nation on the Mississippi; and
pursuing their journey across the country from that river, struck the
Missouri near the confluence of the Great Nemawhaw. Here the Otoes
remained a considerable time for the purpose of hunting; and it seems
probable, from the name of the creek, that they also reared maize, and
cultivated the soil after their rude manner, as the word Nemawhaw, in
their language, signifies _water of cultivation_; _ne_, water, and
_maha_, planting or cultivating. From this locality the Otoes proceeded
up the river to the Platte; and after hunting for some time near its
confluence, they moved still further up the Missouri, and established
a village on its bank, about fourteen miles below Council Bluff. In
this position they remained several years, during which time a band of
the Ioways took up their residence about one year, on the bank of the
river nearly opposite to them, and within about thirty miles of the
present site of the Omawhaw village. The Otoes subsequently removed
to the river Platte, about twenty miles above their present village;
but finding the latter situation to be a more eligible one, they
permanently established themselves there, and have already occupied it
nearly half a century.

The Ioways, after having resided in a village on {63} the lower part
of the Missouri a considerable space of time, were rejoined by the
band above mentioned; when they abandoned their position, and returned
to the waters of the Mississippi and erected a village on the
_Moyene_,[33] where it still remains.

[33] The Moyene River is the present Des Moines. See preceding volume,
note 123.—ED.

The Missouries in process of time abandoned their village near the
mouth of the river Missouri, and gradually moving up the river, at
length constructed a town on the left bank, near the entrance of Grand
river. In this position they were found by the French, who built a fort
on an island of the Missouri, in their immediate vicinity, about the
beginning of the last century. The garrison of this fort was entirely
destroyed, according to Du Pratz, soon after its commander, the
enterprizing Bourgmont, left it.[34]

[34] This was Fort Orleans, referred to _ante_, note 29. For further
details, see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v, note 26. Notice
of Du Pratz will be found in Nuttall's _Journal_, volume xiii of our
series, note 89.—ED.

The author whom we have just mentioned further informs us respecting
this nation, that "the Spaniards, as well as our other neighbours,
being continually jealous of our superiority over them, formed a
design of establishing themselves among the Missouries, about forty
leagues from the Illinois, in order to limit our boundaries westward.
They judged it necessary for the security of their colony, entirely
to cut off the Missouries; and for that purpose they courted the
friendship of the Osages, whose assistance they thought would be of
service to them in the enterprise, and who were generally at enmity
with the Missouries. A company of Spaniards, men, women, and soldiers,
accordingly set out from Santa Fe, having a Dominican for their
chaplain, and an engineer for their guide and commander. The caravan
was furnished with horses, and all other kinds of beasts necessary;
for it is one of their prudent maxims, to send off all those things
together. By a fatal mistake the Spaniards arrived first amongst
the Missouries, whom they mistook for the Osages; and imprudently
discovering their hostile intentions, they were themselves surprised
and cut off by those whom they intended for destruction. {64} The
Missouries some time afterwards dressed themselves with the ornaments
of the chapel; and carried them in a kind of triumphant procession to
the French commandant among the Illinois."[35] A terrible but just
revenge! The Missouries continued to dwell in the same locality,
until, about twenty years since, they were conquered and dispersed, by
a combination of the Sauks, Foxes, and some other Indians; when they
united their destiny with other friendly nations. Five or six lodges
joined the Osages; two or three took refuge with the Konzas; and the
chief part of the remainder amalgamated with the Oto nation, with whom
they still reside. Thus connected, their manners, habits, and language
being very closely allied, the Otoes and Missouries may be considered
as one nation. They are probably the bravest of the native inhabitants
of the Missouri; and there are but few males who have arrived at
the age of maturity, that have not fleshed their arms in battle.
Indeed, many of them can _strike_ upon individuals of almost all the
neighbouring nations, not excepting the distant Indians of Mexico, and
the Spaniards themselves.

[35] The reference is to the English edition of Du Pratz, _History of
Louisiana_ (London, 1763), ii, p. 157. See Charlevoix's account in
_Wisconsin Historical Collections_, xvi, pp. 413, 414.—ED.

In vain should we seek among the nations of the Missouri for an
individual whose daring deeds have been more numerous than those of
the Little Soldier, or for more brave and generous combatants than
Shaumonekusse, Hashea, Nahojeningya, and Wasacaruja. It is not fear,
but probably a generous forbearance, that has restrained them from
killing more than two white men within the memory of the present
generation. Of these, one, a Frenchman, was killed by A-kira-ba during
the Spanish government; and the other, a Spaniard, by Shaumonekusse,
more recently, at the sources of the Arkansa; an act, which, although
attended by an extraordinary display of bravery, was declared by this
young warrior to be the only martial act of his life that he was
ashamed of.

{65} The hunting grounds of the Oto nation extend from the Little
Platte up to the Boyer creek, on the north side of the Missouri, and
from Independence creek to about forty miles above the Platte, on the
south side of that river. They hunt the bison between the Platte and
the sources of the Konza rivers.

A few years since, their numbers were very much diminished by the

The language of the Otoes, Missouries, and Ioways, although the same,
is somewhat differently pronounced by these respective nations or
tribes. The dialect of the Ioways is more closely allied to that of the
Oto than to the Missouri dialect; the former differs chiefly in being
pronounced more sharply, as in the word In-ta-ra, _friend_, which in
the Oto is In-ta-ro. The Missouri dialect differs in being more nasal;
the children, however, of this nation being, from their residence among
the Otoes, in constant habits of association with the Oto children, are
gradually assuming the pronunciation of that nation.

Originally the same, and still very similar to the above dialects, are
those of the Osages, Konzas, Omawhaws, and Puncaws, the individuals
of each of which nations can make themselves reciprocally understood,
after a very little practice. The two latter dialects are so very
closely allied, as not to be distinguishable from each other, by
persons who are not very critically acquainted with the language. The
Omawhaw and Puncaw pronunciation is more guttural than that of the two
former, of which, particularly the Osage, the pronunciation is more
brief and vivid.

The free and independent spirit of the Indian is carried even into
their language, and may be recognised there by its absolute destitution
of a single word drawn from the language of a civilised people. Thus,
notwithstanding their constant familiarity with {66} certain traders,
and with various articles of the manufacture of the white people,
they universally, and in every instance, reject the names which they
originally hear for such men and things, and apply others, which they
readily invent.


    Boyer's Creek—Visit to the Pawnees—Human Sacrifices—Anecdote of

ON the 12th, Lieutenant Graham, Lieutenant Talcott of Camp Missouri,
Mr. Seymour, and I, accompanied by a soldier, departed in our
small row-boat, for the purpose of ascending Boyer creek,[36] and
ascertaining the point at which that stream discharges from the bluffs.
The rapidity of the Missouri current soon transported us to the mouth
of the creek, and we encamped, after ascending it the distance of
a few miles. From this point Messrs. Graham and Talcott crossed the
bottom lands, to the base of the bluffs, and by trigonometrical
observation, ascertained the altitude of the highest point to be
three hundred and fifty feet above low water mark of the Missouri.
The next day we continued our voyage, but about noon, perceiving that
some necessaries had inadvertently been omitted in our loading, we
despatched the soldier to the cantonment to procure them.

[36] For Boyer Creek, see preceding volume, note 174.—ED.

The following morning we were awakened by the loud cries of the
sandhill crane, performing evolutions in the air, high over their
feeding grounds. This stately bird is known to authors by the name of
grus canadensis. It is mentioned by the enterprizing and excellent
traveller, Bartram,[37] in his work, and is very distinct from the grus
Americanus of authors, or hooping crane, although many persons have
supposed it to be no other than the young of that gigantic species. The
sandhill crane, in the spring of the year, removes the surface of the
soil by {68} scratching with its feet, in search of the radical tubers
of the pea vine, which seem to afford them a very palatable food. Near
our present encampment, and in many other situations bordering on
streams of water, where this plant vegetates in the greatest profusion,
we have frequently had occasion to observe that the surface of the soil
was removed in small and irregular patches, by the industry of this
bird in seeking for its favourite food.

[37] For sketch of Bartram, see André Michaux's _Travels_, in our
volume iii, note 177.—ED.

This crane is a social bird, sometimes assembling together in
considerable flocks. They were now in great numbers, soaring aloft
in the air, flying with an irregular kind of gyratory motion, each
individual describing a large circle in the air independently of
his associates, and uttering loud, dissonant, and repeated cries.
They sometimes continue thus to wing their flight upwards, gradually
receding from the earth, until they become mere specks upon the sight,
and finally altogether disappear, leaving only the discordant music of
their concert to fall faintly upon the ear.

Mosquitoes have already made their appearance in small numbers.

April 14th. The messenger returned and the voyage was continued. The
creek was found to be very tortuous, and the navigation much impeded
by fallen trees, extending in various directions across the stream,
obliging us to resort to the use of the axe in many places, to obtain
a passage for our boat. In the evening we arrived at the bluffs. The
water had now become so shallow as not to admit of our further passage
with the boat, which was left under the care of our man, and having
made the necessary observations for ascertaining the latitude, on the
following day we took our blankets on our backs, and proceeded on
foot, intending to travel one day's journey further along the stream.
At the distance of about five miles, the high grounds closely bounded
the creek, and the valley, which below is extensive {69} and fertile,
disappears. We saw numbers of the smaller species of rattle-snake,
which had, no doubt, but lately left their winter dwelling. The creek,
as observed this afternoon, although still about thirty feet wide, is,
in some places, not more than six inches deep, whilst in other parts
it is two or three feet. As we went forward, the timber gradually
decreased in quantity, until finally it was interrupted into remote
small assemblages of trees, under one of which we spread our blankets,
after a sultry day's march over a tolerably fertile country. Numbers
of ant hills are dispersed over the soil, and in many places are
abundant; we could not choose but admire the assiduous industry of the
little inhabitants, who were now engaged in repairing the structures
for the approaching season of activity. The autumnal conflagration,
which had comprehended within its destructive range almost the whole
surface of the country, had consumed a large portion of the fragments
of wood, which, intermixed with earth, forms the exterior wall of their
mounds; these the emmets were now unremittingly employed in replacing,
with half-burned sticks, which were sought for in every direction.
Verdure was appearing in favourable situations, and the ash was in full
bloom, which tree, associated with the elm and willow, comprehends the
chief portion of the few trees that were here seen. In the night we
were awakened by a heavy fall of rain, and our attention was directed
to personal safety by tremendous thunder and lightning, directly in the
zenith, and we abandoned our guns and blankets to take refuge in the
open prairie. This situation was peculiarly uncomfortable; we had been
languid and oppressed by the heat of the sun during the afternoon's
walk, and we were now shivering under the effects of cold and moisture.
In the intervals we kindled our fire, and became alternately, partially
dry, and wet, as the fall of rain intermitted and recurred.

{70} At the dawn of day we retraced our path, and found the tent
pleasantly situate in an embowered spot, where three rattle snakes
had been killed by the soldier pitching it. On the following day we
descended the creek.

18th. The creek was rapidly subsiding, so that a bridge constructed by
the Omawhaws, which we had passed almost unobserved, was now two feet
above the surface of the water, and rendered it necessary to unload
the boat in order to drag her over. This structure is very simple; a
double series of stout forked pieces of wood are driven into the bottom
of the creek, upon these, poles are laid transversely, crossed by
numerous smaller pieces, which form a support for dried grass covered
by a proper quantity of earth. What necessity gave rise to the building
of this bridge we know not, and we are inclined to believe, that
bridge-building is a rare effort in our aboriginal architecture.

On the 20th, Major O'Fallon set out on a visit to the Pawnee villages,
accompanied by Captain Riley, Adjutant Pentland, Lieutenants Talcott
and Graham, Mr. Dougherty and myself, together with a guard of
twenty-seven men, and with seventeen pack and riding horses.[38] In
recording the events of this journey, it would be superfluous to note
the appearance of the country over which we passed, or to describe the
magnitude and direction of the water courses that intersect the route,
as this will be detailed in another part of the work; our attention
in the few following pages will be more particularly directed to our
transactions and interviews with the natives. In the course of the two
following days, we met with several Oto and Omawhaw Indians, who were
occupied with hunting and trapping. On the 23d we halted a short time
with a party of the latter nation, headed by a man of much note, known
to the traders by the name of the _Voleur_,[39] the relics of whose
former village, we had previously observed on Shell Creek.[40] {71}
Near this stream of water we examined a great excavation in the brow
of a bluff, to which the name of _Pawnee Medicine_ has been applied,
in consequence of its being an object of superstitious reverence to
the people of that nation. It is evidently an artificial work, and
the product of much labour, being about two hundred feet long, one
hundred and thirty feet wide, and thirty feet deep. The origin and
object of this effort of savage labour is involved in mystery, and
the Pawnees cannot, at this day, give any rational history of it; the
only advantage which we can suppose people to have derived from such a
work, is security from the attack of a powerful enemy. An entire nation
may have here defied the efforts of some allied army of an extensive
coalition. We are inclined to conjecture, that the nation that has left
us this monument of a primitive military art, is no other than the
Rickarees,[41] who now reside on the banks of the Missouri, between
the Sioux (Dacota) and Mandan nations, and who are, beyond a doubt, a
branch of the Pawnee stock, and probably are more immediately descended
from that branch of it, now known as Pawnee Loups. We are led to this
conjecture, however, only from the fact, that ruins of their former
village, apparently coeval with the excavation, exist within two miles
of Beaver Creek.[42] In this vicinity, several antelopes (Cervicapra
Americana, Ord) were seen by the party, but they were so shy and
swift, that it was not possible to kill one of them.

[38] Bennett Riley, of Maryland, began his army career in 1813, as
ensign in the rifles, attaining a captaincy in 1817. In 1821 he was
transferred to the infantry, in which he attained successively the rank
of major (1837), lieutenant-colonel (1839), and colonel (1850). He died
in 1853.

Andrew Talcott entered West Point in 1815, from Connecticut, and on
graduation (1818), was promoted into the army with the brevet rank of
second-lieutenant in the corps of engineers. He resigned his commission
in 1836, being then captain, and was engaged until 1860 chiefly on
railroad and mining enterprises; he was a member of the Northwest
Boundary Commission (1840-43). He died in 1883, aged eighty-six.—ED.

[39] Meaning "The Thief."—ED.

[40] Shell Creek is a tributary of the Platte, flowing from the
northwest across Platte and Colfax counties.—ED.

[41] The Arikara; see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v, note

[42] Beaver Creek is a northern tributary of Loup River, which it joins
in Nance County.—ED.

On the succeeding day, a large body of Indians was observed in the
distance moving towards us, which proved to be the principal portion
of the Oto nation, who were now returning to their own village, from a
trading visit to the Pawnees. We here met with numerous acquaintances,
who saluted us cordially, although they appeared somewhat jealous
of our visit to the Pawnees. The Little Soldier rode up with great
animation, and communicated to some {72} of us, by means of signs, an
intimation that a glorious battle had been fought by a party of Pawnee
Loups, in which the greater part of them had been killed, and nearly
all the remainder of them wounded.

We resumed our journey, and at the distance of two or three miles
observed numerous horses grazing over the plain, squaws occupied in
pitching skin lodges, and men advancing to meet us; they were soon
recognized for Omawhaws, and informed us that they were engaged in
hunting. We were soon joined by the Big-horse, Crenier, and other
chiefs and warriors of the Oto and Omawhaw nations, who remained a
considerable time, and received a small present of tobacco at parting.

At Willow Creek,[43] several Pawnees were observed on the opposite
side at a distance, who avoided us, and as we continued on during the
afternoon, many of them appeared at different times and places, on the
bluffs, which, at a little distance, bounded our route to the right;
but, like the first we had seen, they would not approach our party, but
retired on our advancing towards them.

[43] Willow (now Cedar) Creek rises in Garfield County and flows
southeast to the Loup; Fullerton, seat of Nance County, is at
its mouth. Willows grew on its banks and cedars on the bluffs a
little farther from the water; hence both names were applied by the

The evening encampment was pitched at a favourable position, on the
bank of the Loup Fork, where we found a boy guarding horses; he had
a melancholy air, and his appearance interested us much; a number of
squaws had fled at our approach, but he remained unmoved. He invited us
to continue onward to the village, stating the probability of a fall of
rain on the coming night. "Are you not afraid," we asked, "to remain
here all day, at such a distance from your village?" "No," said he,
with the utmost indifference; "the Sioux have not been here this long
time past, but I saw a great many men and horses to-day on the opposite
side of the river: they may have been Sioux: I don't know." Being
presented with a biscuit, he ate part of it, and put the remainder in
his belt for his parents, that they might taste of the food of the
white people.

{73} In the evening Semino, a Canadian interpreter residing with the
Pawnees, arrived with a letter from Mr. Papan,[44] (a trader in the
nation,) stating, that as some misunderstanding had occurred amongst
the chiefs, Tarrarecawaho had declined meeting the party, to escort us
into the village, as he had previously intended to do.

[44] I gladly avail myself of the opportunity of noticing the many
attentions which we received from this gentleman. At this time
particularly, he rendered us essential services, in which he appeared
to take much pleasure.—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ Laforce Pappan (Papin, Papan) was probably the
grandson of Joseph Pappan, a Canadian fur-trader who came to St. Louis
about 1770, and was for many years a trader among the Pawnee. He died
of cholera (1848) while on his way to St. Louis. Emily, his daughter by
a Pawnee woman, married Henry, son of Lucien Fontenelle (see preceding
volume, note 196).

This conduct of the chief was altogether unexpected, inasmuch as he
had invited the agent, at the autumnal council, to visit his village,
and requested him to halt his party at some distance, and inform him
of his proximity, that he might be received with due ceremony. Major
O'Fallon, immediately perceiving the necessity of supporting the
dignity of his mission in the eyes of these Indians, in order the more
effectually to command their respect, directed the messengers to return
forthwith and tell that chief, that "he must consider well whom he is
about to receive; if he will not meet me in a proper manner, I will
pass through his village, without looking at him or his people, and
visit the next village, and so on to the third; and if I shall not be
properly treated at either, I will return to Camp Missouri to count
the graves of the soldiers whom he has heard died there." No further
communication was received respecting the intentions of the great
chief, and early on the succeeding morning our journey was resumed.

After riding a considerable distance over a beautiful plain, we came in
view of the village of the Grand Pawnees, and saw in every direction
great numbers of horses and mules, and a few asses attended by men
and boys. At some distance on the left, the Loup Fork meandered,
on the bank of which stream was a long line of squaws bearing {74}
heavy burdens of fuel towards the village. A chief was soon observed
advancing with rapidity; he was received by our cavalcade with music
playing, and flags displayed, and was recognized to be Sharitarish,
eldest son of the chief of that name commemorated by Lieutenant Pike,
and now second chief of the Grand Pawnees; the interpreters being
absent, no particular communication was interchanged, and we moved
on.[45] A short time, however, only elapsed before Tarrarecawaho
approached in full dress. We could not choose but admire the lofty
dignity of his appearance; but his extreme hauteur became manifest
when he halted at the head of our line, by not offering his hand, or
even deigning to look at us. This deportment was reciprocated, and we
moved onward again without particularly noticing him, excepting by
the short intermission of movements which had taken place, we were
soon informed from the rear, that the Grand Chief was making signs to
induce us to halt; but finding that his imperious deportment gained no
respect, and that his present request was altogether disregarded, he
at once relinquished the high grounds which he had seemed anxious to
maintain, and riding forward, he condescended to offer his hand to each
of us in succession.[46] The interpreters having rejoined the party,
Major O'Fallon was enabled to communicate with the chief and principal
men, such as Taritiwishta, chief of the Tappage band, Ishcatappa,
brother of Sharetarish, and others, who successively arrived. He then
addressed Tarrarecawaho briefly thus: "Long Hair, I have come to
visit you agreeably to your invitation, and desire to know whether or
not you are glad to see me." The chief answered, "That I am glad to
see you, the display of these medals on my dress, and those flags of
your nation which are waving in my village, will amply testify." He
concluded by inviting us to his lodge, but we informed him that we had
brought our own lodges {75} and provisions; we would, however, accept
of his hospitality by partaking of his food. We then performed a
half circuit around the village, and entered it with the sound of the
bugle, drum, and fife, with which the commonalty and children seemed
highly delighted, following, or rather walking beside the musicians
obliquely in two extensive wings, exhibiting the form of the letter
V. Of these instruments the bugle was most decidedly the favourite.
We passed by and saluted the mansions of the chiefs, at each of which
an American flag was hoisted, with the exception only of one that
was passed unnoticed, owing to its being distinguished by a Spanish
flag; which, however, was struck as soon as the cause of the procedure
was understood. This ceremony being performed, the men were marched
off to encamp, and we entered the dwelling of the Grand Chief. After
partaking of some excellent boiled bison meat, he requested to know if
we would condescend to eat at the houses of the warriors; but the agent
informed him that we could only accept of the hospitality of chiefs.
We were then conducted to six other feasts, in immediate succession,
after which we retired to the encampment that had been formed in a low
prairie near the town.

[45] The Sharitarish of Pike, whom he calls Characterish, was chief
of the Republican Pawnee, whom he visited in September, 1806. He also
mentions Ishcatappa (Iskatappe). See Coues, _Expeditions of Zebulon M.
Pike_, ii, p. 409. The portrait of the younger Sharitarish is given
in McKenney, _Indian Tribes of North America_ (Philadelphia, 1854),
i, p. 33. He succeeded Tarrarecawaho as grand chief, but died soon
afterwards, aged about thirty.—ED.

[46] The hauteur here ascribed to Tarrarecawaho is in keeping with the
story that he refused an invitation to visit Washington, esteeming the
Pawnee the greatest people in the world, and thinking such a visit
involved condescension. He sent Sharitarish in his stead.

Ishcatappa succeeded Sharitarish in the chieftainship. By the Omaha he
was called "The Wicked."—ED.

During our stay in Tarrarecawaho's lodge, Major O'Fallon spoke at some
length to that chief. He informed him that thus far he was pleased
with the reception he had given us; that he had come to repeat in the
village, the same words that had been uttered at Engineer Cantonment,
&c. The manner as well as the matter of the address, seemed to command
undivided attention; every eye was riveted upon the speaker, and the
most profound silence reigned throughout a crowded audience, that
preserved a respectful distance behind the chiefs that were seated
directly before us.

Instead of an immediate reply, Tarrarecawaho, who alone had remained
standing, addressed his {76} warriors in a loud, fluent, and
impassionate manner: "I am the only individual of this nation, that
possesses a knowledge of the manners and power of the whites. I have
been to the town of the Red Head, (Governor Clarke, at St. Louis,) and
saw there all that a red skin could see. Here sits a chief, (pointing
to the agent,) who controls every thing in this land; if he should
prohibit you from wearing breech-cloths, you could not wear them. You
know that we cannot dispense with powder and balls; you must also know
that we cannot dispense with this chief, as he can prevent us from
obtaining them. I have no personal fear; I only dread the consequence
of improper conduct, to the women and children; take pity on your women
and children, warriors. When he tells you that he is a chief, he speaks
truly; when he says that his soldiers appear like the grass in the
spring, in place of those who die, he speaks truly; you, my nation, are
like the fly in strength, just so easily can his mighty nation crush
you between their fingers. Young men, I have done; to morrow I will
invite the American chief to council, and if any of you wish to speak
to him then, you have my consent. Do as I do; I am not ashamed of what
I have done; follow my example."

He then, in a mild tone and polite manner, informed the agent that he
would consult his chiefs, and would return an answer to his speech

Accordingly, about noon on the 26th, a messenger arrived with
information that the chiefs and warriors were ready to receive the
agent, and we repaired to the lodge in which the assembly was convened.
They formed a circle round the chamber, sitting on grass mats; the
chiefs occupied the back part of the lodge, directly in front of whom
we were invited to be seated, on mats spread for our reception. A
profound silence ensued, during which the eyes of the assembly were
occasionally turned by a glance upon {77} Tarrarecawaho, who at length
arose, and after a short harangue, held his pipe to the Major to smoke,
signifying that he presented a horse. Several speakers succeeded, who
generally presented the pipe in the same manner. After an address from
Major O'Fallon, who concluded by inviting the principal men to our
camp, to present them with "a pipe of tobacco," the council dissolved.

On the expiration of two or three hours, the chiefs and warriors
appeared at our camp, and seated themselves on robes and blankets,
before our tent, whilst several hundred of the people encompassed
us, keeping, however, at a respectful distance. When the agent
had terminated some appropriate observations, he deposited before
Tarrarecawaho, Sharetarish, and the Tappage chief, the presents he
intended to make, in as many separate parcels. A difference having
for some time existed between the two first-mentioned chiefs, the
former, who was in fault, having threatened to chastise the other,
and on being challenged by him, refused to decide the controversy
by single combat, now availed himself of a favourable opportunity
to obtain a reconciliation, by presenting to Sharetarish his entire
parcel of merchandize: Sharetarish then proceeded to parcel out his
double portion, consisting of fusils, powder and ball, strouding,
blankets, calico, &c. amongst the multitude, reserving nothing for
himself. He laid a portion at the feet of Tarrarecawaho, and this chief
again performed the part of a donor, retaining only a United States'
flag, and expressed his satisfaction and thanks to the agent, for the
merchandize they had received. Sharetarish said, that, if agreeable to
his father, (Major O'Fallon,) he would return in a reasonable time,
and bring some of his young warriors, for the purpose of performing a

Towards evening, Sharetarish arrived with his dancers, thirty or forty
in number, who were all accoutred and painted for the occasion. This
exhibition, {78} which would have appeared to us to partake much of the
terrific, did we not feel assured of their pacific disposition, bore
considerable resemblance to that performed by the Otoes at Engineer
Cantonment, already described, excepting that less pantomimic action
was used, and _striking the post_ formed no part of the ceremony. At
the termination of the dance, Sharetarish presented Major O'Fallon with
a painted bison robe, representing several of his own combats with the
enemy, as well as those of his friends, all of which he explained to us.

27th. The tents were struck, and we departed for the village of the
Pawnee Loups. At the distance of four miles, we passed the Republican
village, about a mile on our left; from thence the distance is about
three miles to the Loup village, over a beautiful bottom plain of
the width of a mile and a half, extending along the Loup fork of the
Platte. This plain is nearly thirty feet lower than that over which
we had travelled, and which terminates abruptly at the Grand Pawnee
village. When within two miles of the village of the Loups, a messenger
requested the party to halt, in order to give the chiefs the requisite
time to make their preparations to receive us in a manner suitable to
the representative of a nation "so great and powerful as that of the

After waiting a short time, we observed, at the distance of a mile
before us, a great number of mounted Indians emerging suddenly,
apparently from the plain itself, for we could not then see a ravine
that had previously concealed them from our view. They immediately
began to ride in various directions, and to perform numerous
evolutions, until the whole were arranged in a widely-extended
line. These rapid movements, which attracted our attention from
other objects, having ceased, we perceived a small body of men in
front, whose movements were independent of the others, and who were
advancing at a moderate pace. When all were formed, they set forwards,
{79} slowly at first, but gradually increasing their speed as they
approached, until they surrounded us at a full charge. It is impossible
by description to do justice to the scene of savage magnificence that
was now displayed. Between three and four hundred mounted Indians,
dressed in their richest habiliments of war, were rushing around us in
every direction, with streaming feathers, war weapons, and with loud
shouts and yells. The few whom we had observed in advance of the main
body, and whom, as they came near, we recognized to be the chief men,
presented a perfect contrast to the others in their slow movements,
and simplicity of dress. Courtesy obliged us to shake hands with each
individual, as they came to us in succession for that purpose, nor was
a single soldier of our train forgotten on this occasion by any one
of them. They expressed great satisfaction on account of our visit,
rubbing their breasts in token of the sincerity of this pleasure.
Many remarked that the nation had been mourning for their grievous
losses in a recent battle with an enemy, but that now grief should
give place to rejoicing. Major O'Fallon addressed the Indians as
usual, after which we again moved on towards the village. Latelesha,
the grand chief, perceiving that the division of his warriors that
were on our left, raised some dust on the march, ordered them all to
leeward, that we might not be incommoded. Almost from the beginning
of this interesting fête, our attention had been attracted to a young
man who seemed to be the leader or partizan of the warriors. He was
about twenty-three years of age, of the finest form, tall, muscular,
exceedingly graceful, and of a most prepossessing countenance. His head
dress of war eagles' feathers, descended in a double series upon his
back like wings, to his saddle croup; his shield was highly decorated,
and his long lance was ornamented by a plaited casing of red and blue
cloth. On inquiring of the interpreter, our admiration was augmented by
learning {80} that he was no other than Petalesharoo, with whose name
and character we were already familiar. He is the most intrepid warrior
of the nation, eldest son of Latelesha, destined as well by mental
and physical qualifications, as by his distinguished birth, to be the
future leader of his people. Seeing that his father had taken a place
in our cavalcade on the left of Major O'Fallon, he rode up on his right
to the exclusion of a brave officer who had previously occupied that
situation, and who now regarded him with an apparently stern aspect,
but in which there was perhaps more of admiration than of irritation
at this unexpected intrusion. The young chief caught the look, and
retorted with an eye that seemed never to have been averted through
fear. The name of Petalesharoo is connected with the abolition of a
custom formerly prevalent in this nation, at which humanity shudders.

The Pawnee Loups heretofore exhibited the singular anomaly, amongst the
American natives, of a people addicted to the inhuman, superstitious
rite, of making propitiatory offerings of human victims to Venus, the
_Great Star_. The origin of this sanguinary sacrifice is unknown;
probably it existed previously to their intercourse with the white
traders. This solemn ceremony was performed annually, and immediately
preceded their horticultural operations, for the success of which it
appears to have been instituted. A breach of this duty, the performance
of which they believed to be required by the Great Star, it was
supposed would be succeeded by the total failure of their crops of
maize, beans, and pumpkins, and the consequent total privation of their
vegetable food.

To obviate a national calamity so formidable, any person was at liberty
to offer up a prisoner of either sex, that by his prowess in war he had
become possessed of.

{81} The devoted individual was clothed in the gayest and most costly
attire; profusely supplied with the choicest food, and constantly
attended by the magi, who anticipated all his wants, cautiously
concealed from him the real object of their sedulous attentions, and
endeavoured to preserve his mind in a state of cheerfulness, with the
view of promoting obesity, and thereby rendering the sacrifice more
acceptable to their Ceres.

When the victim was thus sufficiently fattened for their purpose, a
suitable day was appointed for the performance of the rite, that the
whole nation might attend.

The victim was bound to a cross, in presence of the assembled
multitude, when a solemn dance was performed, and after some other
ceremonies, the warrior, whose prisoner he had been, cleaved his
head with the tomahawk; and his speedy death was insured by numerous
archers, who penetrated his body with their arrows.

A trader informed us that the squaws cut pieces of flesh from the
deceased, with which they greased their hoes; but this was denied by
another, who had been present at one of these sacrifices. However this
may be, the ceremony was believed to have called down a blessing upon
their labours of the field, and they proceeded to planting without

The present mild and humane chief of the nation, Latelesha, or Knife
Chief, had long regarded this sacrifice as an unnecessary and cruel
exhibition of power, exercised upon unfortunate and defenceless
individuals, whom they were bound to protect; and he vainly endeavoured
to abolish it by philanthropic admonitions.

An Ietan woman, who was brought captive into the village, was doomed
to the Great Star by the warrior, whose property she had become by
the fate of war. She underwent the usual preparations, and, on the
appointed day, was led to the cross, amidst a {82} great concourse of
people, as eager, perhaps, as their civilized fellow men, to witness
the horrors of an execution. The victim was bound to the cross with
thongs of skin, and the usual ceremonies being performed, her dread of
a more terrible death was about to be terminated by the tomahawk and
the arrow. At this critical juncture, Petalesharoo (son of the Knife
Chief) stepped forward into the area, and in a hurried but firm manner,
declared that it was his father's wish to abolish this sacrifice; that
for himself, he had presented himself before them, for the purpose of
laying down his life upon the spot, or of releasing the victim. He then
cut the cords which bound her to the cross, carried her swiftly through
the crowd to a horse, which he presented to her, and having mounted
another himself, he conveyed her beyond the reach of immediate pursuit;
when, after having supplied her with food, and admonishing her to make
the best of her way to her own nation, which was at a distance of at
least four hundred miles, he was constrained to return to his village.
The emancipated Ietan had, however, the good fortune, on her journey
of the subsequent day, to meet with a war party of her own people, by
whom she was conveyed to her family in safety.[47]

[47] Petalesharoo visited Washington in 1821-22, and the ladies of the
city presented him with a medal for the humanity and bravery he had
displayed in rescuing the Ietan girl. The incident was also made the
theme of a rhymed effusion in the New York _Commercial Advertiser_,
entitled "The Pawnee Brave." This accompanied by a portrait of
Petalesharoo is to be found in McKenney, _Indian Tribes_, i, p. 143.—ED.

This daring deed would, almost to a certainty, have terminated in
an unsuccessful attempt, under the arm of any other warrior; and
Petalesharoo was, no doubt, indebted for this successful and noble
achievement to the distinguished renown which his feats of chivalry had
already gained for him, and which commanded the high respect of all his
rival warriors. Notwithstanding the signal success of this enterprise,
another display of the firmness and determination of the young warrior
was required to abolish this sacrifice, it is to be hoped for ever.
The succeeding spring, a warrior, who had captured a fine Spanish boy,
vowed to sacrifice him to the Great {83} Star, and accordingly placed
him under the care of the magi, for that purpose.

The Knife Chief, learning the determination of the warrior, consulted
with his son, respecting the best means of preventing a repetition of
the horrible ceremony. "I will rescue the boy," said Petalesharoo, "as
a warrior should, by force;" but the Knife Chief, unwilling that his
son should again expose himself to a danger so imminent, as that which
he had once encountered in this cause, hoped to compel the warrior
to exchange his victim for a large quantity of merchandize, which he
would endeavour to obtain with that view. For this purpose he repaired
to Mr. Pappan, who happened to be in the village for the purposes of
trade, and communicated to him his intentions. Mr. Pappan generously
contributed a considerable quantity of merchandize, and much was added
by himself, by Petalesharoo, and other Indians.

All this treasure was laid in a heap together, in the lodge of the
Knife Chief, who thereupon summoned the warrior before him. The chief
armed himself with his war-club, and explained the object of his call,
commanding the warrior to accept the merchandize and yield up the boy,
or prepare for instant death. The warrior refused, and the chief waved
his club in the air towards the warrior. "Strike," said Petalesharoo,
who stood near to support his father; "I will meet the vengeance of
his friends." But the more prudent and politic chief added a few more
articles to the mass of merchandize, in order to give the warrior
another opportunity of acquiescing without forfeiting his word.

This expedient succeeded; the goods were reluctantly accepted, and the
boy was liberated, and was subsequently conducted to St. Louis by the
traders. The merchandize was sacrificed in place of the boy; the cloth
was cut in shreds, and suspended by poles at the place of sacrifice,
and many {84} of the valuables were consumed by fire. It is not
expected that another attempt will be made to immolate a human victim,
during the life of Petalesharoo, or of his benign father.

Our cavalcade performed a circuit round the village, and saluted at
the lodge of Latelesha, upon which the flag of the United States was
hoisted; the soldiers were then marched to a proper encampment place,
and we were feasted as before. Great order prevailed in this village,
and silence reigned throughout, which was attributed to their loss of
friends and kinsmen.

On the following day the council was held, at which eleven horses and
mules were presented in the usual manner. In two instances, however,
the horse was represented by a cord or halter attached to a stick. One
of these cords was drawn by a little Ietan girl, that Petalesharoo had
captured in some battle and adopted as his daughter; she seemed to be
the favourite of his family.

In the afternoon the greater part of the population were observed
coming from the village towards our camp. As they drew near, we
ascertained that many were painted, armed, and decorated as if for
war. Petalesharoo advanced, and gave notice that he had brought some
of his warriors, for the purpose of honouring his American father
with a dance. The dancers were about forty in number, and their
movements and evolutions were similar to those of the Grand Pawnees.
The deep-toned gong was so entirely concealed in the centre of the
mass of dancers, that it was with difficulty we ascertained whence the
wild and measured sound proceeded, which regulated their simultaneous
movements. It was accompanied by other simple instruments, and
occasionally interrupted from the ear by the piercing note of the
whistle, or the sudden discharge of a gun, with the muzzle directed
to the earth. At the termination of the first dance, the partizan
requested {85} the accompaniment of our music for the succeeding
dance. The music accordingly struck up, with the renewed beating of
the gong; but it immediately threw them all into confusion, and after
vainly endeavouring to regain their regularity, they ceased. Again the
experiment was tried, and again it produced inextricable confusion.
This repeated result brought a smile to the countenance of the
partizan, who expressed his conviction, that his party was unable to
dance to the music of the white people.

The principal men having now arrived, agreeably to invitation, they
were introduced into a large skin lodge which had been erected for us
by the orders of Latelesha, as our marquee was too feeble to resist
a strong wind which prevailed during the day. Presents were made to
Latelesha and the Metiff chief. The latter transferred his parcel to
Latelesha, who laid the whole before Petalesharoo, to dispose of as he
thought proper. The young chief appointed two persons to distribute
them; and thus the whole was disposed of, though very unequally. The
chiefs then returned their thanks and withdrew.

I passed the night at the lodge of the Metiff chief, and in the evening
was amused by the exhibition of another dancing party, who concluded by
inviting the chief to partake of a feast, to be given on the following
day, for the purpose of dispelling his grief for the loss of his
brother, in the late contest with the Indians of the Rocky Mountains.

This severe battle was fought by ninety-three Pawnee Loup warriors,
against a large body of Ietans, Arrapahoes and Kiawas.[48]

[48] The Arapaho were a tribe of Algonquian stock, which, with the
kindred Cheyenne, had pushed their way through the country of the
hostile Sioux to the region of the Black Hills; later, they entered
Wyoming and Colorado. Their present number is about seventeen hundred,
half in Oklahoma and half in Wyoming.

The Kiowa are generally regarded as an independent stock (see Bureau
of Ethnology _Report_, 1885-86, p. 84), whose pristine territory was
rather indefinitely located on the upper Arkansas and Platte. The
Comanche were closely associated. There are now about eleven hundred
Kiowa in Oklahoma.—ED.

The party was led by the most distinguished brave of the village, and
half brother of the Metiff chief, but of unmixed blood, and a principal
supporter of the influence of that chief. The party, who were all on
foot, were on their way to capture horses, but they were badly armed
for a contest, and had but {86} twelve guns amongst them. They were
proceeding cautiously along in the prairies between the head waters of
the Arkansa and the Rio del Norte, when one party of their runners, or
discoverers, came in with information that a great body of the enemy
were ahead, and had not seen them; another party of runners soon came
in with the same information. The whole now halted to wait for night
to capture horses, and busied themselves in preparing their ropes
and halters, and in putting themselves in the best order in case of
attack. One of the party ascended a small eminence, and perceived
three of the enemy mounted and coming on in full career; presently
more appeared, and soon after they began to show themselves in every
quarter. It was now evident to the party, that the enemy were the first
discoverers, and that they were now necessitated to contend against a
vastly superior force, better armed than themselves, and possessing
also the advantage of being all mounted on good horses. It was obvious
also that there was no hope for them, but in the display of desperate
valour. Their first wish had been to gain a creek at some distance in
the rear, which was margined with small timber; but as their enemy now
completely surrounded them, this was impossible. The battle commenced
about ten o'clock A. M., and soon raged with great fury. Every muscle
was called into action in our little band, who hung firmly together,
discharging their arrows and occasionally a fusee at the enemy with the
steadiest aim. The dead and wounded were falling in every direction
in both parties. The enemy were so numerous that numbers of their
braves, armed only with a shield, having rejected their offensive
weapons, hovered in front of their companions, intent only' upon the
acquisition of the renown dearest to the heart of the warrior, that of
first striking the body of a fallen enemy; many of them however were
killed, even by their own people, as they rushed along and intercepted
the flight of the {87} arrow or bullet from its destined mark. The
combatants were at very close quarters, and the arrow had its full
effect. They were for some time intermingled, and contended with their
war-clubs and knives. The partizan, who had been wounded severely
early in the action, and had received several more wounds during its
continuance, now was struck by an arrow, which buried itself to the
feathers in his body. He knew the wound was a mortal one, and fell, but
supported himself upon the ground to encourage his men; "My braves,"
said he, "fight whilst you can move a limb, and when your arrows are
expended take your knives." Looking around now upon his companions in
arms, he perceived that nearly all his principal braves were killed
or disabled, and with his dying words he ordered those who were still
on their feet to pierce the surrounding enemy, and endeavour to save
themselves in the timber of the creek. As soon as it was ascertained
that their partizan was dead, his orders were carried into effect;
and the remnant of the party fought their way to the creek, where the
enemy abandoned them, and returned to exult over the slain. One only of
the principal braves was left in this shattered band; he declared he
was ashamed that he had survived, and he immediately ran back to the
enemy, although much wounded, and was seen no more. The party now found
that they had left fifty-three men dead, or disabled, on the battle
ground, amongst whom were all their braves, who had exposed themselves
to danger more than the others. Of their numbers, now diminished to
forty, all were wounded, with the exception of seven only, and some
of these very desperately; one individual had eight different wounds.
As they had thrown off their robes, breech-cloths, and leggings, at
the commencement of the battle, they were now absolutely naked, and
the weather was extremely cold. They made rude cars on which they
drew along those who could not walk; and thus {88} they commenced and
proceeded in their slow and laborious march to their village. During
the journey some of the wounded requested to be killed, or left to die
alone; and one who was wounded in the knee, after soliciting death
from his brother repeatedly in vain, sought an opportunity to die, and
finally plunged his knife in his heart. The party subsisted by killing
a few bisons on the way, and partially clothed themselves with their
raw hides; a miserable defence against the intensity of the cold.

The Grand Pawnees were more successful in war excursions during the
winter. One of their parties encountered a party of Spaniards, who,
my informant asserted, sought safety in flight. But it seems highly
probable that a battle took place, and that many were killed; inasmuch
as the victors returned with much clothing, merchandize, very handsome
figured blankets, many horses, and some silver money. I was almost
confirmed in this belief, by being subsequently informed that the party
had certainly brought with them some scalps which were not those of
Indians; and on passing through the village, I thought that some of the
hair which streamed in the wind from numerous portions of human scalps,
suspended on sticks from the roofs of the lodges, was taken from the
heads of Spaniards.

These three bands or clans of Pawnees, although they harmonize well
together at present, are not exempt from the lot of artificial
distinctions; and party animosity sometimes occurs, which, in one
instance, had nearly produced fatal consequences. The Puncaw Indians,
having conceived themselves injured by the Pawnee Loups, applied to
the Grand Pawnees for aid in obtaining redress. The latter warmly
espoused their cause, and the Grand Chief marched his warriors towards
the Loup village, in avowed hostility. Petalesharoo hastily assembled
his warriors for defence, and sallied out to meet the enemy; but
finding their numerical force to be greatly superior{89} to his own, he
saw that the resistance which his little band could offer, though it
might check their career, would, in all probability, be insufficient to
repel them. He therefore rode forward between the parties, and called
aloud on Tarrarecawaho, who then advanced to meet him. The young chief
immediately challenged him to a single combat; let us, said he, thus
avoid the copious effusion of kindred blood, which otherwise must flow
upon the earth in a general battle. This proposition was peremptorily
refused. Then, said Petalesharoo, I must call you an old squaw, and
a coward; return to your party and select for me the bravest of your
men. This being also refused, Latelesha came forward, and by amicable
negociation adjusted the point in dispute. This village contains about
one hundred and forty-five lodges.

29th. The horses that were _smoked_ yesterday were brought this
morning, and we departed on our return by way of the Republican
village. When within a mile of the latter, we were again halted by
a messenger, in order that the warriors might prepare to receive us
properly. In about an hour they were seen issuing from the village,
with four chiefs in front, who lamented aloud as they came near, in
token of penitence for their offences. They proceeded to shake us by
the hand, whilst about one hundred and fifty mounted, decorated, and
painted warriors were rushing about us in every direction, whooping and
yelling, and exhibiting such gracefulness and safety of riding as we
had never before witnessed, excepting at the Loup village, of which
the present display was nearly a counterpart in miniature. In this sham
attack, the partizan performed the part of our defender, hovering near
us, and as the warriors charged upon us, he intercepted and repelled
them. I expected to recognize amongst these warriors many of the
individuals who had composed the war party that we encountered near the
Konza village. I therefore scrutinizingly examined{90} the countenance
and figure of each one as they successively offered their hands. But
although I had on that occasion particularly noted the features of
several of the war party, for the purpose of identifying them on a
future time, I could now recognize but a single individual. I knew him
immediately, and judging from the Indian character, he knew me equally
well; yet his physiognomy, on presenting me his hand, was not varied
in the slightest degree from the expression with which he regarded my
companions, many of whom he had not before seen.

After saluting at the village as before, we were invited into the
lodge of Fool Robe, the principal chief, an old man of about eighty
years, destitute of any thing remarkable in his appearance. The chief
men being assembled, the council was immediately held. Major O'Fallon
arose, and spoke at considerable length, informing them of the great
power of the United States; he detailed the glaring offences of the
Pawnee Republicans, and concluded by offering them peace or war, though
neither of these was solicited in preference. The chief men, in reply,
manifested a great desire to adjust all differences, and promised to
conduct themselves better in future. Fool Robe spoke well, but with
evident embarrassment. They lamented their poverty, which prevented
them from presenting more than four horses, sixteen bison robes, and
a package of dried meat. A chief of this nation, called Petalesharoo,
who promised, at Engineer cantonment, to chastise the offenders, having
neglected to execute this act of justice, retired from the village on
our approach. The agent, on this account, declared to the council,
that he wished never to see him again; that he did not consider him a
brave man, as he was afraid to comply with his promise; and that if he
ever should meet with him in council, he would compel him to sit with
the young men. The council{91} was further assured, that the offences,
which the young men of this nation had committed against white people,
would be forgiven, but not forgotten. We had to regret the absence of
the son of Fool Robe, a fine intelligent young man, who was engaged on
some predatory excursion, at the head of one hundred and sixty warriors.

During the night a Konza war party carried off one hundred and forty
horses from the village.

The following day we returned to the village of the Grand Pawnees,
and received the horses that had been presented at the council by the
ceremony of the pipe. A quantity of merchandize had been brought with
us from Camp Missouri, to exchange for horses for the service of the
troops. This was put into the hands of Messrs. Pappan and Dougherty for
that purpose; and we retired to our camp, which was upon the same spot
as that we occupied on the night of the 24th instant.

May 1st. Mr. Pappan and Mr. Dougherty arrived from the village, having
purchased nineteen horses and mules. The price of the horses and mules
averaged about the amount of thirty dollars in Indian merchandize,
estimated at the St. Louis valuation.

At each of the villages we observed small sticks, of the length of
eighteen inches or two feet, painted red, stuck in the earth in various
situations, but chiefly on the roofs of the houses, each bearing the
fragment of a human scalp, the hair of which streamed in the wind.
Before the entrance to some of the lodges were small frames, like
painters' easels, supporting each a shield, and generally a large
painted cylindrical case of skin, prepared like parchment, in which a
war dress is deposited. The shield is circular, made of bison skin, and
thick enough to ward off an arrow; but not to arrest the flight of a
rifle ball at close quarters.

Defended by this shield, a warrior will not hesitate to cross the path
of an arrow; he will sometimes {92} dexterously seize the missile after
it has struck, and discharge it back again at the enemy.

The lodges or houses of these three villages are similar in structure,
but differ in size. The description of those of the Konzas will apply
to them, excepting that the beds are all concealed by a mat partition,
which extends parallel to the walls of the lodge, and from the floor to
the roof. Small apertures, or doors, at intervals in this partition,
are left for the different families that inhabit a lodge to enter their
respective bed chambers.

In the evening Major O'Fallon presented each of us with a horse.

Several Indians came to our camp for the purpose of trading with the
men. Major O'Fallon wished to obtain one of their horses, in exchange
for one that he possessed; but the Indian modestly declined, saying,
"My father, the horse you offer was given by my brother, which is the
same as if I had given him myself; I will exchange for almost any other

Early on the following morning we departed on our return to the
Missouri, with a numerous retinue of horses, amounting to more than
sixty. On the way several bisons were killed, and three calves were
taken alive in the chase, by throwing nooses over their heads.

On the 6th we arrived at the Missouri, after an absence of sixteen
days. Much of the information we acquired, respecting the manners, &c.
of the Pawnees, is incorporated in the account of the Indians of the
Missouri, in some of the preceding chapters of this work.


    Journey by Land from St. Louis to Council Bluff—Grand
    River—Plains at the Sources of the Little Platte, the
    Nishnebottona, &c.—Departure of the Expedition from Engineer

WHILE the transactions above detailed were passing, Major Long had
returned from the seat of government.

On the 24th of April 1820, he arrived at St. Louis, on his way from
Philadelphia to Council Bluff, to rejoin the party. He was accompanied
by Captain John R. Bell, attached to the exploring Expedition by order
from the War Department, and by Dr. E. James, who had been appointed to
serve as botanist and geologist, in consequence of recommendations from
the Honourable Secretary of the Navy, from Dr. Torrey and Captain Le

[49] John R. Bell was a New Yorker, who was graduated from West Point
in 1812, and served in the light artillery through the War of 1812-15.
For a short time prior to his departure for the Missouri, he was
commandant of cadets and instructor in infantry tactics at West Point.
Afterwards he was in garrison at Savannah and Fort Moultrie; breveted
major in 1824, he died the succeeding year.

For sketch of Edwin James, the compiler of this account of the
expedition, see preface of volume xiv.

The secretary of the navy at this time was Smith Thompson, of New
York (1768-1843). He succeeded George Crowinshield, of Massachusetts,
in this office (1818), and held the post until 1823. Previous to his
appointment he had been on the supreme bench of New York (since 1802),
and had become chief justice (1814). In 1823 he was made associate
justice on the federal bench.

John Torrey (1796-1873), one of America's greatest botanists, was the
son of a New York Revolutionary officer. Entering the army as a surgeon
in 1824, he taught the sciences at West Point until 1828; from that
time until 1855 he was connected, as professor of chemistry and botany,
with Princeton College, the University of the City of New York, and the
College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He was one of the
founders (1817) of the New York Lyceum of Natural History, which became
the New York Academy of Sciences, and was the preceptor and lifelong
associate of Asa Gray, with whom he also collaborated. Of especial
interest to readers of the present volumes is the fact that Dr. Torrey
undertook the examination of the botanical collections made on Long's
expedition. He also examined the collections made by several later
exploring parties, notably those of Frémont to the Rocky Mountains
(1845) and California (1853).

John Eatton Le Conte (1784-1860) was descended from a Huguenot family
which settled at New Rochelle, New York, about the close of the
seventeenth century. He served in the corps of topographical engineers
from 1818 to 1831, gaining the brevet rank of major. Known as the
author of special botanical and zoological studies, he was also a
member of the New York Lyceum of Natural History, and vice-president of
the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.—ED.

Having procured horses, and equipped ourselves for a journey in the
wilderness, we left St. Louis on the 4th of May, intending to proceed
by the most direct route across the country to Council Bluff.

The lands immediately in the rear of St. Louis, between the Mississippi
and the Missouri, below their junction, have an undulated surface, and
a deep alluvial soil. Since their occupation by permanent inhabitants,
the yearly ravages of fire have been prevented, and a dense growth of
oaks and elms has sprung up.

In this fact we have a satisfactory explanation of the cause of the
present want of forest trees in extensive tracts on the Missouri,
which appear, in every respect, adapted to the growth of timber. If
these lands, called prairies, were at any former period covered with
forests, it may easily be supposed, the {94} yearly devastations of
fires breaking out in dry seasons would destroy many of the trees.
The forests being thus broken, the growth of grasses and annual plants
would be greatly facilitated by the nakedness of the soil, and the free
admission of the rays of the sun. Forests attract rain, and impede
evaporation; while the reverberation from the surface of vast plains,
and deserts, tends to dissipate the clouds and vapours which are driven
over them by the winds. In fertile districts like the alluvial lands
of the Missouri and Mississippi, a heavy annual growth of herbaceous
plants is produced, which, after the autumnal frosts, becomes dry
and peculiarly adapted to facilitate and extend the ravages of fire.
In a country occupied by hunters, who are kindling their camp fires
in every part of the forest, and who often, like the Mongalls in the
grassy deserts of Asia, set fire to the plains, in order to attract
herbivorous animals, by the growth of tender and nutritious herbage
which springs up soon after the burning, it is easy to see these annual
conflagrations could not fail to happen.

In the Autumn of 1819, the burnings, owing to the unusual drought,
continued until very late in the season; so that the weeds in the low
grounds were consumed, to the manifest injury of the forests. Large
bodies of timber are so frequently destroyed in this way, that the
appearance has become familiar to hunters and travellers, and has
received the name of _deadening_.

After the burning of the grass in the open prairies, the wind, which
at that season usually blows with great strength from the north-west,
carries off the ashes from the general surface into the hollows and
small vallies, thus contributing to enrich the latter at the expense of
the former.[50]

[50] See Wells _On the Origin of Prairies_, in the 4th number of
Silliman's Journal.—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ "La Grande Prairie," as the French settlers of St.
Louis called it, began at Fourth Street of the present city.

The prairie appears to have heretofore extended, {95} almost without
interruption, for several miles in the rear of St. Louis. The western
portions of it are yet naked meadows, without trees or bushes. As we
followed the little pathway towards Bon Homme,[51] we passed large
tracts to which the labours of the sand rat[52] had given the aspect
of a ploughed field. From the great quantities of fresh earth recently
brought up, we perceived the little animals were engaged in enlarging
their subterranean excavations; and we watched long, though in vain,
expecting to see them emerge from their burrows. It is probable the
jarring of the earth under the hoofs of our horses, by giving early
notice of our approach, prevented them from appearing at the surface.

[51] Bonhomme (Good Man) is the name of a creek, a township, and a
post-office in St. Louis County, but has never been the name of a town.
The post-office of Bonhomme is of comparatively recent origin, and even
now contains but one store. The name as used in the text apparently
applies collectively to the settlements along Bonhomme Creek.—ED.

[52] Genus _Pseudostoma_.[53] SAY.—Cheek-pouches exterior to the mouth;
incisores naked, truncated; molares sixteen, destitute of radicles;
crown simple, oval; anterior ones double.

Species, _Pseudostoma bursaria_.—Body sub-cylindrical, covered with
reddish-brown hair, which is plumbeous at base; feet white, anterior
nails elongated, posterior ones short, and concave beneath.

_Mus bursarius_, (Shaw, Trans. Lin. Soc. Lond. and Genl.
Zoology.)—_Body_ elongated, sub-cylindrical; _hair_ reddish-brown,
plumbeous at base; _beneath_ rather paler; _cheek-pouches_ capacious,
covered with hair both within and without; _vibrissæ_ numerous,
slender, whitish; _eyes_ black; _ears_ hardly prominent; _feet_
five-toed, white, anterior pair robust, with large, elongated, somewhat
compressed nails, exposing the bone on the inner side, middle nail
much longest, then the fourth, then the second, then the fifth, the
first being very short; posterior feet slender, nails concave beneath,
rounded at tip, the exterior one very small; _tail_ short, hairy at
base, nearly naked towards the tip.

This animal is congeneric with the Tucan of Hernandez, which Buffon
erroneously considers the same as the _Talpha rubra Americana_ of
Seba, or _Talpha rubra_, Lin., an animal which is, however, entirely
out of the question, and which, if we may be allowed to judge from
Seba's figure, is so far from having any specific affinity with the
_bursarius_, that it cannot now be regarded as co-ordinate with it.

The late professor B. S. Barton, in his Medical and Physical Journal,
says, that a species of _Mus_ allied to the _M. bursarius_ of Shaw,
is common in Georgia and Florida; that he examined a living specimen
of this animal, and was convinced that it is no other than the Tucan
of Hernandez, and the Tuza or Tozan of Clavigero. He says nothing of
its size; but on the same page he remarks, "that another species of
Mus, much larger [than] the Tuza, inhabits west of the Mississippi
about latitude 30°, of which very little is known." Dr. Barton was
aware that the cheek pouches, in the figures given by Shaw, are
represented in an inverted position, but not having seen specimens
from the trans-Mississippi country, he was unacquainted with their
specific identity with those of Canada, from which those figures were
drawn. In our zoological reports to Major Long, in the year 1819, the
specimens which we found on the Missouri were recorded under the name
of _bursarius_ of Shaw. Coxe, in his description of "Carolana called
Florida, and of the Meschacebe," 1741, mentions a "rat with a bag under
its throat, wherein it conveys its young when forced to fly."

Several other writers have noticed these animals, of whom Dr. Mitchell,
in Silliman's Journal, 1821, mentions the identity of specimens
obtained beyond Lake Superior, with the M. _bursarius_ of Shaw.

The animals belonging to this genus are distinguished by their
voluminous cheek-pouches, which are perfectly exterior to the mouth,
from which they are separated by the common integument, they are
profoundly concave, opening downwards, and towards the mouth.

The _incisores_ which are not covered by the lips, but are always
exposed to view, are strong and truncated in their entire width at tip;
the superior ones are each marked by a deep, longitudinal groove near
the middle, and by a smaller one at the inner margin. The _molares_,
to the number of eight in each jaw, penetrate to the base of their
respective alveoles, without any division into roots, as in the genus
_Arvicola_, _Lepus_, &c., their crown is simply discoidal, transversely
oblong oval, margined by the enamel, and in general form they resemble
the teeth of a _Lepus_, but without the appearance either of a groove
at their ends, or of a dividing crest of enamel; the posterior tooth
is rather more rounded than the others, and that of the upper-jaw has
a small prominent angle on its posterior face; the anterior tooth
is double, in consequence of a profound duplicature in its side, so
that its crown presents two oval disks, of which the anterior one is
smaller, and in the lower jaw somewhat angulated. All the molares of
the lower jaw incline obliquely forward, and those of the superior jaw
obliquely backward.

The whole animal has a clumsy aspect, having a large head and body,
with short legs, large fore feet, and small hind feet; and although it
walks awkwardly, yet it burrows with the greatest rapidity, so that the
difficulty of obtaining specimens may be, in a great degree, attributed
to the facility with which the animal passes through the soil, in
removing from the vicinity of danger.

They cast up mounds of loose earth, which, like those of the _blind
rat_, (Spalax typhlus) have no exterior opening. These elevations have
been aptly compared, by Lewis and Clarke, to such heaps of earth as
would be formed by the emptying of the loose contents of a flower-pot
upon the soil. The mounds are of various dimensions, from the diameter
of a few inches only, to that of several yards; the quantity of earth
employed consequently varies from a pint to two or three bushels.

So entirely subterranean is the life of this animal, that it is rarely
seen; and many persons have lived for many years surrounded by their
little edifices, without knowing the singular being by whose labours
they are produced.

It is known by the names of _sand-rat_, _goffer_, _pouched-rat_,
_salamander_, _&c._—JAMES.

[53] From ψευδω, false, and στομα, a _mouth_, in allusion to the false
mouths or cheek-pouches.

In our way we passed the large hepatic spring visited by Mr. Jessup,
and described in his report. It rises in the bed of a large brook, and
diffuses a strong sulphurous odour, perceptible at a distance of one
hundred yards. It probably derives its mineral impregnation from some
decomposition in the alluvial substances through which it rises to the

Eight or ten miles west of St. Louis, forests of oak and hickory
begin to occur, and become more frequent towards Chesterfield and Bon
Homme.[54] At evening we descended into the deep cotton-wood forests
of the Missouri bottom, and a little before sunset arrived on the bank
of that majestic river. Here we were politely received and entertained
in the house of a gentleman formerly of New York. A large and splendid
collection of books, several articles of costly furniture, and above
all, manners and conversation like those of the better classes in our
cities, formed here a striking contrast to the rude and solitary cabin,
and the wild features of nature, in a spot where the labours of men had
as yet produced scarce a perceptible change.

[54] Chesterfield was situated on Bonhomme Creek, one mile from the
Missouri River. It was laid out in 1818.—ED.

On the ensuing morning, May 5th, we crossed the Missouri above Bon
Homme. The forests on the {96} north side of the Missouri were here
narrow, and confined principally to the vallies.

Pond Fort, where we halted to dine, was at this time the residence of
a single family. In the late war, the inhabitants of the surrounding
country had collected their families and their cattle at this place,
building their temporary residences in the form of a hollow square,
within which their cattle and horses were enclosed at night.[55]

[55] Pond Fort was one of a half dozen posts erected by the settlers of
St. Charles County during the War of 1812-15, for protection against
the Indians. Boone's Fort, built by a son of Daniel Boone, was the
largest and strongest of the group. Pond Fort was a short distance
southeast of the site of Wentzville.—ED.

In the pond, which lies along the north side of the fort, the nelumbium
was growing in great perfection. Its broad orbicular leaves are
somewhat raised from the water, almost concealing its surface. Its
showy yellow flower, when fully expanded, is larger, as remarked
by Nuttall, than that of any other plant indigenous to the United
States, except the magnolia macrophylla. The nuts, of which there are
several immersed in the receptacle of each flower, have, when ripe,
the size and the general appearance of small acorns, but are much more
palatable. The large farinaceous root is sometimes used by the Indians
as an article of diet, as are also the nuts.

Our path lay through extensive and fertile meadows, stretching away to
the distant horizon, and bounded sometimes by the verge of the sky, and
sometimes by the margin of a forest. The elk, the deer, and the bison,
the indigenous inhabitants of these delightful meadows, had been long
since driven away by the incursions of the white settlers, scattered at
remote intervals on the borders of the forests. The dense and uniform
growth of grass had risen untrodden and uncropped, and was now waving
with ceaseless undulations, as the wind swept lightly over the surface
of the plain. The slender and graceful panicles of the heuchera
americana, rising above the grass, resembled a grove of spears,
bristling above the heads of an embattled host. Along the margins of
the brooks, we noticed the beautiful spiræa opulifolia, and a slender
species of {97} viburnum, bending under their clusters of snowy flowers.

Through the day, the weather had been fine but warm. At sunset a
thunder-storm rose in the west; and the day was succeeded, almost
without any interval of twilight, by the most impenetrable darkness.
The wind soon rose to a tempest; and hailstones of uncommon magnitude
began to fall, accompanied with thunder and lightning. Our first
thought was to dismount from our horses, and shelter ourselves from
the hail on the leeward side of their bodies. We were in the middle of
an extensive prairie, where no other protection could be looked for.
The hailstones, however, diminished in size, and soon ceased to fall;
but such torrents of rain ensued, that the plain became inundated,
and the frequent flashes of lightning were reflected to our eyes from
the surface of a vast lake. The plains in many places having little
inclination, the water of a sudden shower is drained off less rapidly
than it falls. After raging with great violence for a short time, the
storm ceased; but the darkness was so intense, that we did not arrive
at the settlement, where we proposed to lodge, until a late hour in the

Soon after crossing the Missouri, we had ascended so far as to reach
the general level of the great woodless plain; and after travelling a
few miles, we found the surface sloping to the north-east towards the
Mississippi. In the afternoon, we crossed the Darden, which enters the
Mississippi eight miles above the mouth of the Illinois; and on the
following morning the Cuivre, tributary to the same river, ten miles
above the other.[56] The point between the Missouri and Mississippi,
near their confluence, is raised in the highest parts, probably less
than one hundred and fifty feet above the water-table. It is of a deep
and fine soil, which would appear rather to have subsided from the
waters of a quiet ocean, than to have been brought down from above,
and deposited {98} in its present situation by the rivers. Between the
sources of the streams which descend from either side of this narrow
cape, extends an irregular tongue of land, destitute of timber, and
every where nearly of the same elevation; as if it had been a part
of the great plain, left naked at the retiring of the ocean, and in
which the vast vallies of the Missouri and Mississippi had since been
excavated by the operations of those streams. The smaller rivers of
this region appear, both in extent and direction, to have been wholly
independent of any peculiar conformation of the original surface on
which they commenced their course; and their present beds gradually
deepening, and descending in the nearest direction towards the vallies
of the great rivers, are in every respect such as we may suppose to
have resulted from the wearing away of a great and uniform plain. At a
house where we rested in the middle of the day, and which was in the
highest part of the country between the Missouri and Mississippi, here
sixty miles distant from each other, a well had been sunk sixty-five
feet without finding water. This well passes through several strata of
loam, clay, and sand; then through a narrow horizontal bed, of that
peculiar substance called chalk, by Mr. Schoolcraft;[57] which is here
intermixed with numerous angular fragments of flints, and terminates
at the surface of a stratum of blue compact limestone, abounding in
organic remains. We were informed, that among other things brought up
from this well, were masses of carbonized wood, bearing the marks of
the axe; but as these could not be found, we thought it reasonable to
attribute some part of the account to the active imagination of the

[56] On Dardenne Creek, see preceding volume, note 97.

The Cuivre (Copper) River forms part of the northern boundary of St.
Charles County.—ED.

[57] Views of the Lead Mines, pp. 180, 227.—JAMES.

From the _divide_ at the sources of the Cuivre, we overlooked an
extensive tract of undulating meadow; and could distinguish on the
distant horizon, the wide valley, and the extensive forests of Loutre

[58] The Loutre is a Montgomery County stream.—ED.

{99} This stream is the first deserving notice, which enters the
Missouri from the north. Its sources are several miles to the
north-west of those of the Cuivre. In its valley the rocky substrata
of the plain are exposed, for an extent of many miles. Near Van
Babber's,[59] where we arrived a little before sunset on the 6th, there
is, in the middle of the creek, a large brine spring. Over this has
been placed a section of the hollow trunk of a tree, to prevent the
intermixture of the fresh water of the creek.

[59] The correct name of this man was Isaac Van Bibber. His father was
killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant (see Bradbury's _Travels_, in
our volume v, note 156); he was brought up in Daniel Boone's family,
and married Elizabeth Hays, daughter of Boone's eldest daughter, Susan.
Emigrating to Missouri in 1800, he served during the War of 1812-15 as
major of militia. In the autumn of 1815 he settled at the place called
Loutre Lick, on the site of the present village of Mineola, Montgomery
County, and a considerable immigration followed. A man named Massey had
attempted a settlement even earlier, but from fear of the Indians had
retreated. The settlement was sometimes called Van Bibber's Lick. An
effort was made to utilize the spring in the manufacture of salt, but
the brine proved too weak to yield profitably.—ED.

The sandstone, from which this spring issues, is granulated and
glimmering, like that about the old lead mines of St. Michael.[60]
Like that, it is in horizontal strata, and exhibits sufficient
evidence of being a continuation of the same stratum. Perceiving the
same indications of fossil coal, lead, and other minerals here, as
were known to exist in the same range of country on the other side
of the Missouri, we listened with a credulity which seemed rather to
disappoint and surprise our host, to his account of the phenomena that
had appeared from time to time in his neighbourhood. The combustion of
a coalbed, or the decomposition of a mass of pyrites, has, we believe,
given rise to many more astonishing stories than he related.

[60] The old mining district in Madison County, Missouri, centered
around the town of Mine la Motte, named for the Frenchman who
discovered the deposits. Mine la Motte was settled as early as 1722;
its site is about four miles north of Fredericktown. St. Michael
was settled in 1801, by immigrants from North Carolina, Tennessee,
Kentucky, and Virginia, and in 1822 contained fifty dwellings; then
it declined and almost disappeared. Its site is on the north bank of
Saline Creek, opposite Fredericktown.—ED.

He gave an account of several luminous appearances that had been seen
at the breaking up of winter, or in unusually rainy seasons, or at
other times of the year. These had been witnessed by many persons of
unquestionable veracity; but so great had been their terror on the
occasion, that they could never afterwards recollect the precise spot
where the light had appeared to them. He told us of two itinerant
preachers, who had encountered an indescribable phenomenon, at a place
about nine miles east of Loutre lick. As they were riding side by side
at a late hour in the evening, one of them requested the other to
observe a ball of fire attached {100} to the end of his whip. No sooner
was his attention directed to this object, than a similar one began to
appear on the other end of the whip. In a moment afterwards, their
horses and all objects near them were enveloped in wreaths of flame. By
this time the minds of the itinerant preachers were so much confounded,
that they were no longer capable of observation, and could therefore
give no further account of what happened. He also stated as a fact,
authenticated by many credible witnesses, that a very considerable
tract of land near by, had been seen to send up vast volumes of smoke,
which rose through the light and porous soil, like the smoke through
the covering of a coal-pit. This had in one instance been witnessed
by a son of the celebrated Col. Boon, and was at first mistaken for
a prairie on fire. This phenomenon also occurs at the breaking up
of winter, or at such seasons as the earth is drenched by uncommon
quantities of rain.

Within a few miles of the lick, are eight or nine rude furnaces,
disposed in the direction of a straight line, extending about two
miles. He stated, that it was not known by whom, or when they were
built, nor could it be ascertained for what purpose. It was evident
they had been used; but no slag cinders or any thing of the kind had
ever been found, nor was it possible to conjecture for what purpose
the furnaces had been constructed. We regarded all these accounts, and
many others of a similar character, as a sort of traditionary evidence
of the accidental discovery, at some former time, of lead, coal, or
pyrites; and that this discovery, by the ignorance and credulity of the
people, had been magnified into an object, to which they had at length
learned to ascribe a mysterious and indefinite importance.

Immediately about Loutre lick the surface was rocky and uneven; low
cliffs of light gray sandstone, fringed with tufts of the dark green
pteris atropurpurea, and the black striped asplenium, overhung {101}
the margin of the brook, where the inconspicuous flowers of the prinos
lævigatus and zanthoxylon fraxineum, and the blue spikes of the amorpha
fruticosa, were just expanding.

Beyond Loutre lick the road traverses longitudinally that great
woodless plain, thirty miles in length, called the Grand Prairie. It
varies in width from one to ten or fifteen miles. The soil is deep and
fertile, closely covered with grasses, interspersed with a proportion
of gaudy euchromias and lichnedias, with the purple and yellow
pedicularia, the tradescantia, and many beautiful astragali.

At Thrall's settlement,[61] sixty miles above Loutre lick, the floerkea
proserpinacoides[62] is found in great abundance in open fields and
by the road side, reclining its flexile and delicate stem upon the
species of bidens, polygonum, &c. common in such situations. It grows
much larger here than at Albany, the only locality where we have met
with it east of the Mississippi; and its leaves, instead of being
quinate, are usually composed of six leafits. In neither place does
it show any preference to marshy grounds, as the newly-proposed name,
_palustris_, would seem to imply. Our course, inclining considerably
towards the Missouri, made it necessary to leave the elevated region of
the plains, and betake ourselves to the forests, soon after passing the
Grand Prairie. In these forests the linden, the hop-horn beam, maple,
beech, and ash, attain an uncommon magnitude. The blue beech (ostrya
virginica) sometimes occurs, and is of a larger growth than in New

[61] Thrall's settlement was about four miles north of Rocheport, Boone
County. The first settlers arrived as early as 1812, and after the War
of 1812-15 the population grew rapidly. Augustus Thrall, for whom the
place was named, came in 1816. The site was on land granted by the
federal government to sufferers from the New Madrid earthquake.—ED.

[62] Willdenow. F. palustris. Nuttall.—JAMES.

Extensive and very accessible beds of coal have been opened near
Thrall's plantation. The inhabitants assert that, in sinking wells, the
trunks of large trees have been met with at a great depth below the
surface. We could, however, discover no satisfactory {102} confirmation
of this statement. The soil appeared to us to exhibit no evidence of
having been disturbed at any period since the deposition of the coal
beds and the accompanying sandstones.

On the 8th of June we arrived at Franklin. Here we delayed several
days, in the expectation of receiving from Washington some further
instructions, and the supply of funds necessary for the prosecution
of the duties of the expedition. Having anxiously awaited one
weekly arrival of the mail, and being disappointed of the expected
communications, Major Long resolved to continue the journey, and to
proceed in the accomplishment of the services assigned him, as far as
the means then at his command would allow. As the great part of our
proposed route to Council Bluff lay through the wilderness, we now
thought it necessary to procure two horses, in addition to those we
already had; one of them to be loaded with provisions, and the other
for the use of a man whom we had engaged to accompany us.

We left Franklin on the 14th; and proceeding by a rugged and circuitous
road across a tract of hilly forests, arrived at Charaton the same

From Charaton to the mouth of Grand river,[63] _the trace_, as the
paths are here called, passes through a tract of low alluvial lands,
partly covered with forests, but all extremely fertile. Here we were
to take leave of the settlements, and to pursue the remainder of our
journey through the wilderness; after dining in the cabin of a settler,
we crossed Grand river, and betook ourselves to the course we thought
proper to pursue, through a tangled and pathless forest. This brought
us, after a few hours, to the border of an extensive plain. Our horses,
somewhat unaccustomed to travelling in woods, and particularly the
pack-horse, being young and untutored, gave us much trouble.

[63] For Franklin and Chariton, see the preceding volume, notes 116,
122. Grand River is a considerable affluent of the Missouri; it rises
in southern Iowa and flows southeasterly; its lower course forms the
boundary between Chariton and Carroll counties, Missouri.—ED.

After ascending into the prairie, as the night came on, we were
compelled to go a mile or two off {103} from our course, in search
of water and wood for our encampment; at length finding a suitable
place on the bank of a small stream, called Doe creek, discharging
into Grand river, we kindled a fire, cooked, and ate our supper of
bacon, pilot-bread, and coffee; and as we had no tent, spread our
blankets under the shelter of a large tree, and laid ourselves down to
rest. The hooting of owls, together with the howling of wolves, and
the cries of other nocturnal animals, as we were yet unaccustomed to
them, occasionally interrupted our slumbers. On the following morning,
however, we found ourselves well refreshed, and were prepared to resume
our journey at an early hour.

The road known by the name of Field's trace ascends from Charaton
on the east side of Grand river about sixty miles, thence running
nearly north-west through the immense plains of the Little Platte,
the Nishnebottona, and the Mosquito river, to Council Bluff. At the
mouth of Grand river we had learned that the eastern tributaries of
that stream were much swollen, and were therefore difficult to cross;
accordingly, we determined to ascend along the ridge between that
river and the Little Platte, until we should fall in with the trace.

We were detained several hours in searching for a place where we might
cross Doe creek. Though a very inconsiderable stream, its steep muddy
banks were now almost filled, by the reflux occasioned by the freshet
in the Missouri. It was not without great difficulty we at length
effected a passage, at a point three miles distant from our encampment;
thence directing our course by the compass, we travelled north, 45°
west, twenty-two miles. In this distance we crossed three large creeks;
two of them running eastward into Grand river, the other westward to
the Wahconda.[64]

[64] The text does not make clear the route of the party through
Carroll County, especially as Doe Creek cannot be identified. If this
stream was a tributary of Grand River, the party could not have crossed
a branch of the Wahconda in a course north, 45° west; for Big Creek, a
tributary of the Grand, which flows southeasterly through the eastern
half of the county, would have separated them from the Wahconda basin.
It seems likely that they ascended the watershed between Big Creek and
the Wahconda, and that Doe Creek was a small branch of the former. The
two tributaries of the Grand which were crossed may have been Big Creek
and one of its large branches, probably the Little Wahconda, which
flows south through the centre of the county. The journey of twenty-two
miles must have brought them near the northern line of Carroll County.

Wahconda (sometimes Wakanda and Wakenda) is, as the text has explained,
the Indian name for the supreme being (Master of Life). The stream
pursues an eastward course across Carroll County. Its waters abounded
in fish and its banks in game; to the Indians such abundance seemed
to betoken the presence of the deity, and the stream was regarded as
sacred. Another legend concerning the name is, that two Sioux died
while passing a night upon its bank, and as they bore no marks of
violence, the Indians attributed their death to the Master of Life.—ED.

In the plains we met with nothing to obstruct travelling. They had been
perfectly denudated by {104} the burning of the last season; and the
annual growth of grasses and weeds had as yet risen but about a foot
from the ground. Among the grasses are intermixed great numbers of the
legumina, with pinnated leaves; and these are so commonly canescent as
to give their peculiar silvery colour to the whole plain. This effect
is the more striking, when a slight breeze agitates the leaves of the
numerous species of astragalus, psoralea, baptisia, and the beautiful
amorpha canescens, all of which have their inferior surfaces beset with
a shining silk-like down.

In the afternoon of the 14th a storm of rain commenced, which continued
with little intermission for several days. Having no tent, we were much
exposed to the weather; but at night we constructed a partial shelter,
by stretching our blankets over the spot on which we lay down to rest.

As we approached the sources of Grand river, the country became more
hilly. Horizontal limestone, like that about St. Louis, appears in the
sides of the deep vallies.

In the scanty soils along these declivities the ferula fœniculacea
sometimes occurs, diffusing its powerful and peculiar odour,
perceptible after a shower at the distance of several rods.

18th. The rain of the preceding day continued with increased violence
during the night. Our encampment was completely inundated, and the
wind so high as to render our blanket-tent wholly useless. The small
portfolio, in which we had deposited such plants as we wished to
preserve, had been placed for a pillow in the most sheltered part of
the tent, and covered with a coat; but these precautions, and all
others we could adopt, were unavailing; and the collection of plants we
had then made was lost.

Wishing to deviate as little as possible from the course we had
assumed, and which we knew it was necessary to pursue, if we would
follow the most {105} direct route to Council Bluff, we descended on
the 19th, into a broad and densely wooded valley on our left. After
crossing a part of this valley, through heavy forests of ash, sycamore,
and cotton-wood, our progress was checked by a river of some magnitude,
and so swollen and turbulent in consequence of the late rains, that
we thought it advisable not to attempt the passage. We therefore
relinquished our course; and being a long time detained in painful and
fatiguing exertions to extricate ourselves from the forest, regained
towards evening the open plain, and encamped.

We had now ascended about eighty miles from the mouth of Grand river.
The country we had passed is fertile, and presents such an intermixture
of forests and grassy plains, as is extremely pleasing to the eye.
Towards the north the hills became gradually more and more elevated.
The discontinuance of the horizontal limestone, the disclosure in
the deep vallies of the more ancient varieties of sandstone, and the
frequent occurrence in the soil of small round masses of granite,
gneiss, and other primitive rocks, indicate an approach towards the
margin of the secondary basin. In the deepest vallies, about the
sources of Grand river, we observe a very hard semi-crystalline
sandstone, in rather indistinct strata, and containing apparently few
remains either of plants or animals. It is, in almost every respect,
similar to that sandstone, which, in the valley of Lake Champlain,
rests along the skirts of the granitic mountains of Ticonderoga, Crown
Point, and Westport, and supports there a small stratum of compact
limestone. Containing few fragments rounded by attrition, being almost
destitute of cement, and retaining much uniformity of character in
different localities, it has a manifest resemblance to that most
ancient of sandstones, which, in the mountains of New England, is
associated with the granular limestone, and has sometimes been called
{106} granular quartz.[65] Indeed we have no hesitation in believing,
that at some point near the sources of the De Moyen and Grand river,
the primitive rocks approach near the surface. There is here a stratum
of newer sandstone, superimposed upon that above noticed, and bearing
marks of having been contemporaneous to some formation of coal; but it
is not of sufficient thickness, in the parts we examined, to justify an
opinion, that it contains any valuable beds of that mineral. Leaving
the immediate neighbourhood of the river, there is an ascent of several
miles to the level of the great woodless plain. The bottom, and part of
the sides of the vallies, are covered with trees; but in proportion to
the elevation, the surface becomes more unvaried and monotonous. These
vast plains, in which the eye finds no object to rest upon, are at
first seen with surprise and pleasure; but their uniformity at length
becomes tiresome.

[65] Eaton's Index to the Geology of the Northern States. First

For a few days the weather had been fine, with cool breezes, and broken
flying clouds. The shadows of these coursing rapidly over the plain,
seemed to put the whole in motion; and we appeared to ourselves as if
riding on the unquiet billows of the ocean. The surface is uniformly
of the description, not inaptly called _rolling_, and will certainly
bear a comparison to the waves of an agitated sea. The distant shores
and promontories of woodland, with here and there an insular grove of
trees, rendered the illusion more complete.

The great extent of country contemplated at a single view, and the
unvaried sameness of the surface, made our prospect seem tedious. We
pursued our course during the greater part of the day along the same
wide plain, and at evening the woody point in which we had encamped on
the preceding night was yet discernible.

{107} Nothing is more difficult than to estimate, by the eye, the
distance of objects seen in these plains. A small animal, as a wolf or
a turkey, sometimes appears of the magnitude of a horse, on account of
an erroneous impression of distance. Three elk, which were the first
we had seen, crossed our path at some distance before us. The effect
of the _mirage_, together with our indefinite idea of the distance,
magnified these animals to a most prodigious size. For a moment we
thought we saw the mastodon of America, moving in those vast plains,
which seem to have been created for his dwelling place. An animal seen
for the first time, or any object with which the eye is unacquainted,
usually appears much enlarged, and inaccurate ideas are formed of the
magnitude and distance of all the surrounding objects; but if some
well-known animal, as a deer or a wolf, comes into the field of vision
so near as to be recognized, the illusions vanish, and all things
return to their proper dimensions.

Soon after we had left our encampment, on one of the bright sunny
mornings which occurred, when we were in the country near the sources
of Grand river, we discovered, as we thought, several large animals
feeding in the prairie, at the distance of half a mile. These, we
believed, could be no other than bisons; and after a consultation
respecting the best method of surprising them, two of our party
dismounted; and creeping with great care and caution, about one-fourth
of a mile through the high grass, arrived near the spot, and discovered
an old turkey, with her brood of half-grown young, the only animals
now to be seen.

On the evening of the 20th of May, we encamped in a low, muddy bottom,
overgrown with nettles and phacelias; but the only place we could find
combining the three requisites—grass for our horses, and wood and water
for ourselves. Here we were so tormented by the mosquitoes, harassed
and goaded by the wood-ticks, {108} that we were glad to seek relief
by mounting our horses, at the earliest appearance of light on the
following morning. The dew had been so heavy, that it was falling in
drops from the grass and weeds where we had lain, and our blankets were
dripping as if they had been exposed to a shower. We proceeded on our
course about thirty miles, and encamped early in the afternoon. Having
ascended Grand river nearly to the point, where we believed Field's
trace must cross it, we directed our course more to the west, and had
already crossed several streams running to the south, supposed to be
the upper branches of the Little Platte.

The utmost uniformity prevails in the appearance of the country about
the sources of the Little Platte, Nishnebottona, and other northern
tributaries of the Missouri. Near one of these small rivers we
discovered the trace of an Indian war party, which appeared to have
passed very recently towards the Missouri. After our arrival at Council
Bluff, we had farther information of these Indians, who were a war
party of Sauks and Foxes from the Mississippi, and had committed many
depredations upon the Missouri Indians, and some upon the whites. We
were considered very fortunate in not having fallen in with them, as
it was believed, they would not have hesitated to rob, and perhaps
destroy, any party of whites as weak as ours.

Remains of bisons, as bones, horns, hoofs, and the like, are often seen
in these plains; and in one instance, in a low swamp surrounded by
forests, we discovered the recent track of a bull; but all the herds of
these animals have deserted the country on this side of Council Bluff.
The bones of elk and deer are very numerous, particularly about certain
places, which, from the great number of tent poles, scaffolds, &c.
appear to be old Indian hunting camps; and the living animals are still
to be found here in plenty. As we rode along these boundless meadows,
{109} every object within several miles became visible; the smallest
shrub rising a few inches above the surface of the green expanse, could
be seen at a mile distant.[66] Some large agarics, and a gigantic
lycoperdon, peculiar to these regions, are the most conspicuous objects
by which the uniformity of the plains is varied; and these may be seen
sometimes at the distance of two or three miles.

[66] A ceanothus, smaller than C. americana, the amorpha canescens,
and the symphoria racemosa, are almost the only shrubs seen in the

On the evening of the 24th, we arrived on the bank of a beautiful
river, at a grove of ash and cotton-wood trees. We had scarce
dismounted from our horses, when a violent thunder-shower commenced;
the rain fell in such torrents as to extinguish our fire, and the wind
blew so violently that our blanket-tent could afford us no protection.
Many large trees were blown down in the point of woods where we lay,
and one fell a few yards from our camp. As the night was extremely
dark, we thought the danger of moving at least equal to that of
remaining where we were; and spent part of the night in the greatest
anxiety, listening to the roar of the storm, and the crashing of the
timber. As our horses were dispersed about the wood, we had scarce a
hope they could all escape uninjured.

On the day following, after we had rode about eighteen or twenty miles,
we observed the surface of the country to become suddenly hilly; and
soon after were surprised by an unexpected view of the wide valley, the
green meadows, and the yellow stream of the Missouri. A little after
noon we encamped in a meadow on the river bottom, and by ascending one
of the neighbouring bluffs; sufficiently elevated to overlook a large
extent of the surrounding country, we were enabled to discover that we
had arrived at the Missouri, at a point about {110} six miles below the
confluence of the great river Platte.

On the precipitous and almost naked argillaceous hills, which here
bound the Missouri valley, we found the oxytropis lambertii, and the
great flowering pentstemon; two plants of singular beauty. Here,
also, we saw, for the first time, the leafless prenanthes, the yellow
euchromia, and many other interesting plants. It would seem that
several species of plants are distributed along the course of the
Missouri, but do not extend far on either side. Probably the seeds of
these have been brought down from their original localities, near the
sources of the river. That the distribution of plants is sometimes
effected in this way, there can be no doubt, as in the instance of the
portulacca, with pilose leaves,[67] and other natives of the high and
sandy plains of the Arkansa, which are sometimes found transplanted
into the deep forests and fertile soils of the hilly region; but the
agency of rivers in this respect appears much less important, than
without particular examination, we might be inclined to imagine. In
ascending the Missouri, the Arkansa, or any great river, every remove
of forty or fifty miles brings the traveller to the locality of some
plants, not to be seen below. This is perhaps less the case with rivers
running from east to west, or from west to east, than with those
whose course in a different direction, traverses several parallels of

[67] Nuttall's Travels into Arkansa, p. 165.—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ See reprint in our volume xiii, pp. 227-228.

On the 27th, we swam across Mosquito Creek;[68] and after a ride of
near thirty miles along the Missouri bottoms, encamped near the mouth
of the Boyer,[69] about six miles from the wintering place of the
party. Early on the following morning we left our encampment, and were
soon after cheered by the report of guns discharging at the Cantonment.
The sight of the trading establishment, called Fort Lisa, gave us {111}
more pleasure than can easily be imagined, except by those who have
made journeys similar to ours, and have felt the deprivation of all
those enjoyments which belongs to the habitations of men. At ten a.
m. we arrived at the Boyer, which Major Long immediately crossed on a
small raft, leaving Captain Bell and Dr. James, with the horses and
baggage, to wait until some soldiers could be sent out to assist in
crossing. These arrived in a few hours; and before three o'clock we had
crossed the Boyer and the Missouri, and found ourselves surrounded by
our friends at Engineer Cantonment.

[68] For Mosquito Creek, see preceding volume, note 173.—ED.

[69] See preceding volume, note 174.—ED.

In the early part of June, 1820, arrangements were completed for the
departure of the Exploring Expedition from their winter cantonment
near Council Bluff. By an order of the Honourable Secretary of War,
dated 28th February, Major Long had been instructed to explore the
country from the Missouri westward to the Rocky Mountains; and thence,
proceeding southward along the base of these mountains to the Arkansa,
to despatch a division of his party down that river. The following
orders were issued by Major Long, briefly sketching the proposed route,
and assigning appropriate duties to each individual of the party.

  "_Engineer Cantonment, Council Bluff_,

  "_Orders_.       _June 1st, 1820._

"Agreeably to the instructions of the Honourable Secretary of War,
the further progress of the Exploring Expedition up the Missouri
is arrested during the present season. By the same authority, an
excursion, by land, to the source of the river Platte, and thence by
way of the Arkansa and Red rivers to the Mississippi, is ordered.
The expedition will accordingly proceed on this duty as soon as
practicable, and be governed by the order of the 31st March, 1819,
issued at the United States' arsenal, near Pittsburgh, so far as it
may be applicable. The duties therein assigned to Major Biddle will be
performed {112} by Captain J. R. Bell, attached to the expedition by
order of the war department, with the exception of those parts which
relate to the manners, customs, and traditions of the various savage
tribes which we may pass. The duties thus excepted will be performed
by Mr. Say. The duties assigned to Dr. Baldwin and Mr. Jessup, by the
order alluded to, will be performed by Dr. E. James, employed for these
purposes, by the sanction of the secretary of war. In these duties
are excepted those parts which relate to comparative anatomy, and the
diseases, remedies, &c. known amongst the Indians; which will also be
performed by Mr. Say.

"Lieutenant Graham will take charge of the United States' steam-boat,
Western Engineer, and proceed down the Missouri to the Mississippi,
with the remaining part of the crew originally attached to the boat, on
the performance of duties assigned him by special order.

"The detachment from the rifle regiment, attached to the expedition,
by order from the commanding officer of the 9th military department,
will accompany the expedition in their route from this place to Belle
Point, on the Arkansa, under the immediate command of Lieutenant Swift,
who will inspect daily their arms and accoutrements, and report their
condition to the commanding officer. He will receive such instructions
from the commanding officer as occasion may require, in relation to the
discharge of his duties.

"Guides, interpreters, hunters, and others attached to the expedition,
will perform such duties as may be assigned, from time to time, by the
commanding officer.

"The duties of the expedition being arduous, and the objects in
view difficult of attainment, the hardships and exposures to be
encountered requiring zealous and obstinate perseverance, it is
confidently expected, that all embarked in the enterprize will {113}
contribute every aid in their power, tending to a successful and speedy
termination of the contemplated tour.

  "S. H. LONG, _Maj. Engrs._
  _Commanding Exploring Expedition._"

The party, as now arranged, consisted of the following persons:

S. H. Long, Major, U. S. Topographical Engineers, commanding the

J. R. Bell, Captain Lt. Artillery, to act as Journalist.[70]

[70] It will be perceived, that in the following narrative no reference
has been made to the notes or journal of Captain Bell, the reason of
which is, that his journal, in the form of a report, was submitted
to the Secretary of War, and consequently the compiler has had no
opportunity of consulting it.—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ Bell's report was never published.

W. H. Swift, assistant Topographer, commanding guard.

Thos. Say, Zoologist, &c.

E. James, Botanist, Geologist, and Surgeon.

T. R. Peale, assistant Naturalist.

Saml. Seymour, Landscape Painter.

Stephen Julien, Interpreter, French and Indian.

H. Dougherty, Hunter.

D. Adams, Spanish Interpreter.

Z. Wilson, Baggage Master.

Oakley and Duncan, Engagees.

Corporal Parish, and six privates of the U. S. army.

To these we expected an addition, on our arrival at the Pawnee
villages, of two Frenchmen, to serve as guides and interpreters, one of
them having already been engaged.

Twenty-eight horses and mules had been provided; one for each
individual of the party, and eight for carrying packs. Of these,
six were the property of the United States, being furnished by the
commanding officer at Camp Missouri; the remaining sixteen were
supplied by Major Long, and others of the party. {114} Our saddles and
other articles of equipage, were of the rudest kind, being, with a few
exceptions, such as we had purchased from the Indians, or constructed

Our outfit comprised the following articles of provisions, Indian
goods, &c. viz. 150lb. of pork, 500lb. of biscuit, 3 bushels of
parched corn meal, 5 gallons of whiskey, 25lb. of coffee, 30lb.
of sugar, and a small quantity of salt, 5lb. of vermilion, 2lb. of
beads, 2 gross of knives, 1 gross of combs, 1 dozen of fire steels,
300 flints, 1 dozen of gun worms, 2 gross of hawk's bells, 2 dozen of
mockasin awls, 1 dozen of scissors, 6 dozen of looking glasses, 30lb.
of tobacco, and a few trinkets, 2 axes, several hatchets, forage-bags,
canteens, bullet-pouches, powder-horns, tin cannisters, skin canoes,
packing-skins, pack cords, and some small packing-boxes for insects, &c.

The gentlemen of the party were supplied with such instruments as
were deemed indispensably requisite in their several pursuits. The
instruments for topographical purposes were, three travelling, and
several pocket compasses; one sextant, with radius of five inches; one
snuffbox sextant; one portable horizon with glass frame and mercurial
trough; one and a half pounds of mercury, in a case of box-wood; two
small thermometers; several blank books, portfolios, &c.

The hunters, interpreters, and attendants, were furnished with rifles
or muskets; the soldiers were armed exclusively with rifles, and
suitably equipped. Our stock of ammunition amounted in all to about 30
pounds of powder, 20 pounds of balls, and 40 pounds of lead, with a
plentiful supply of flints, and some small shot.

Several of the Indians about Council Bluff, to whom our proposed route
had been explained, and who had witnessed our preparations, affected to
laugh at our temerity, in attempting what they said we should never be
able to accomplish. They represented some {115} part of the country,
through which we intended to travel, as so entirely destitute of water
and grass, that neither ourselves nor our horses could be subsisted
while passing it. Baron Vasquez,[71] who accompanied Captain Pike, in
his expedition to the sources of the Arkansa, assured us there was no
probability we could avoid the attacks of hostile Indians, who infested
every part of the country. The assault which had been recently made
by a party of the Sauks and Foxes, upon a trading boat belonging to
Messrs. Pratte[72] and Vasquez, on the Missouri, above Council Bluff,
in which one man was killed, and several wounded, had at this time
spread considerable terror among those in any degree exposed to the
hostilities of the Indians.

[71] A. F. Baronet Vasquez accompanied Pike as interpreter. He was the
fifth child of Benito Vasquez, a Spaniard, who came to St. Louis in
1770, at the age of twenty, in the capacity of a subordinate military
officer. His mother, Julia Papin, was a French Canadian, daughter of
Pierre Papin. Baronet Vasquez, born in 1783, was in 1808 appointed
ensign in the United States army; he left the service in 1814, at which
time he was a first lieutenant of infantry. Pike usually calls Vasquez
"Baroney," and his name is so given in the army registers.—ED.

[72] Bernard Pratte was engaged in the fur-trade for many years, yet
available information concerning him is scanty. When Astor retired from
the American Fur Company (1834), the business of its Western Department
was sold to the St. Louis firm of Pratte, Chouteau and Co. Pratte
withdrew in 1838, but in 1842 reappeared as the head of the rival firm
of Pratte, Cabanne and Co. In 1819, Pratte and Vasquez had a post above
Council Bluffs, perhaps nearly opposite the site of the present town of
Onawa, Iowa. See Chittenden, _American Fur Trade_, pp. 364, 366, 367,
951. The Vasquez associated with Pratte was a brother of "Baroney,"
probably Benito, Jr.—ED.

With these prospects, and with the very inadequate outfit above
described, which was the utmost our united means enabled us to furnish,
we departed from Engineer Cantonment, at 11 o'clock, on the 6th of

[73] The route followed by the expedition, from Missouri River
to the site of Denver, became later the well-known route of the
overland stage, and is now essentially the line of the Union Pacific

The path leading to the Pawnee villages runs in a direction a little
south of west from the cantonment, and lies across a tract of high and
barren prairie for the first ten miles. At this distance it crosses
the Papillon, or Butterfly creek, a small stream discharging into the
Missouri three miles above the confluence of the Platte. Lieutenant
Graham and Mr. J. Dougherty accompanied us about five miles on our way;
we were also met by Lieutenant Talcott from Camp Missouri, who crossed
the bluffs on foot, to take leave of us. Much delay was occasioned,
as we passed along, by the derangement of the packs, the obstinacy of
the mules, and the want of dexterity and experience in our engagees;
we however arrived early in the afternoon at the Papillon, where we

The Papillon, although it traverses a considerable extent of country,
was at this time but a trifling stream. Its channel is narrow, the
banks steep, and {116} like many other streams which have their whole
course in these arid plains, it is nearly destitute of water, except in
rainy seasons.[74]

[74] For Papillon Creek, see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v,
note 40.—ED.

During the night some rain fell, but as we were furnished with three
tents, sufficiently large to shelter all our party, we experienced
little inconvenience from the storm. Our baggage was also effectually
protected, being laid in heaps, and covered with bear-skins; which were
also spread over it when placed upon the pack-horses, during our march
by day.

We had each two small blankets, which were carried upon our horses, one
being placed under the saddle, and the other upon it. These, with the
addition, in some instances, of a great coat, or a blanket-capot, and a
valise or a pair of holsters, to supply the place of a pillow, were our
only articles of bedding.

On morning of the 7th, a new disposition was made, in relation to the
pack-horses, a man being appointed to attend particularly to each. We
breakfasted, and recommenced our journey at an early hour, and moving
forward at an easy pace, arrived about ten o'clock at the Elk-horn,[75]
a considerable river, tributary to the Platte. On the preceding
evening, we had been joined at our camp by a party of three or four
Frenchmen, on their way to a hunting camp of the Omawhaws to trade.
We purchased of them two small brass kettles, to complete our supply
of camp furniture. One of these men had been of Pratte and Vasquez's
party, at the time of the late attack, and had received, in that
affair, a wound in the back from a rifle ball, which was yet unhealed.
In the morning they accompanied us to the Elk-horn, where the wounded
Frenchman was one of the first to strip and plunge into the river.
Surprising accounts are given of the hardihood, and patience under
suffering, manifested by the Indians; but we have rarely seen one of
them {117} exhibit a more striking instance of insensibility to pain,
than this Frenchman.

[75] See preceding volume, note 182.—ED.

The Elk-horn, called Wa-ta-tung-ya by the Otoes, is, where we crossed
it, about thirty yards wide, and during a great part of the year, too
deep and rapid to admit of being forded. At this time our horses were
barely able to keep their feet, in crossing the deepest part of the
channel. Our heavy baggage was ferried across in a portable canoe,
consisting of a single bison hide, which we carried constantly with
us. Its construction is extremely simple; the margin of the hide being
pierced with several small holes, admits a cord, by which it is drawn
into the form of shallow basin. This is placed upon the water, and is
kept sufficiently distended by the baggage which it receives; it is
then towed or pushed across. A canoe of this kind will carry from
four to five hundred pounds. The squaws, who are exceedingly expert
in this sort of navigation, transport not only their baggage, but
their children, and sometimes adults, across large rivers, in these
canoes, and with the most perfect safety. They place their children
on the baggage, and convey the whole across the stream, by swimming
themselves, and urging their charge before them to the opposite shore.
It is rare that any unpleasant accident occurs in this primitive mode
of ferrying.[76] The Elk-horn enters the Platte about fifty miles
above the confluence of that river and the Missouri. Its whole course
is through a country nearly destitute of timber. The low plains {118}
which extend along its bank have a fertile soil; but the want of timber
opposes a serious obstacle to their settlement.

[76] In Father Venegas' account of California, published at Madrid in
1758, we find a description of a similar method of transportation,
used by the natives of that country. "The inhabitants of the banks of
the Colorado make of the same herbs (a vine called Pita,) little tubs
or bins, called Coritas, which generally hold about two bushels of
maize; and in these they transport their goods from one shore to the
other, without being in the least damaged by the water, they themselves
swimming behind, and shoving these vehicles along before them." Vol. i.
p. 44. London, 1759.—_James._

_Comment by Ed._ See preceding volume, note 44, for sketch of Venegas.

The soil and climate here are so entirely similar to those of the
country about Grand river and the Little Platte, already described,
that no change in the vegetable productions could be expected. A
species of onion, with a root about as large as an ounce ball, and
bearing a conspicuous umbel of purple flowers, is very abundant about
the streams, and furnished a valuable addition to our bill of fare.

Soon after crossing the Elk-horn we entered the valley of the Platte,
which presented the view of an unvaried plain, from three to eight
miles in width, and extending more than one hundred miles along that
river, being a vast expanse of prairie, or natural meadow, without a
hill or other inequality of surface, and with scarce a tree or a shrub
to be seen upon it. The woodlands, occupying the islands in the Platte,
bound it on one side; the river-hills, low and gently sloped, terminate
it on the other.

At about three o'clock, P. M., a party of ten Indians were seen
crossing the plain, towards the Platte, at a great distance before
us. Soon after we arrived at a small creek, where was some scattered
timber: here we determined to halt for the night, being informed by our
guide that we would meet with no wood for twenty miles beyond.

As Indians had been seen in the afternoon, and we were aware of their
being still in our neighbourhood, it was thought proper to stake the
horses as near as possible to the camp, and to station two sentinels,
who were to be relieved during the night.

In our encampment we observed the following order. The three tents were
pitched in a right line, all fronting in the same direction. In advance
of these, at the distance of four feet, our baggage was arranged in
six heaps, one at the right, and one at the left of the entrance to
each tent, and protected from {119} the weather by bear-skins thrown
over them. This disposition was made, not only for the convenience of
the party, but that our baggage, in case of an attack of the Indians,
might serve as a kind of breast-work, behind which we might be, in some
measure, sheltered from danger. At any rate, having our baggage thus
arranged, we should know where to find it, and where to rally, in any
emergency by day or night.

On the ensuing morning, (8th,) we continued our journey along the
north side of the valley of the Platte, at the distance of four or five
miles from the river, the direction of our course south, 85° west,
which we followed near twenty miles.

In all our marches we observed the following order. Capt. Bell, mounted
on a horse whose gait was regular and uniform, and well calculated
for the estimation of distances, preceded the party, attended by our
guide.—The soldiers and attendants, formed into two squads, for the
better management of the pack-horses, followed in single file.—The
scientific gentlemen occupied any part of the line that best suited
their convenience.—Major Long followed in the rear, for the purpose
of superintending the readjustment of deranged packs, and urging any
disposed to linger, to the observance of a close order of march, a duty
attended with no inconsiderable trouble and perplexity. Though our
route lay at the distance of several miles from the Platte, we could
distinctly see the narrow and interrupted line of timber which grows
along its course, and occasionally we had a transient view of the river
itself, spreading like an expansive lake, and embosoming innumerable
islands. About eighteen miles from our encampment, our course led
us into the valley of a small river, called La petite Coquille or
Muscleshell Creek,[77] which we ascended six miles, not deviating from
the course we had taken. In the middle of the day we encountered a
violent thunder-storm without dismounting {120} from our horses. The
plain about us, for a great distance, was destitute of timber, and so
level that our party formed the most prominent object in an extent of
several miles. It is not surprising that, in this situation, we were a
little startled at seeing the lightning strike upon the ground at the
distance of two hundred yards from us. We could not have been deceived,
in relation to this appearance, as we distinctly saw the water and mud
thrown several feet into the air by the shock. The storm was so violent
that, notwithstanding all our care, we could not prevent our baggage
from being wet. We crossed the Coquille six miles above the place
where it enters the valley of the Platte. This we effected with some
difficulty, the banks being steep and muddy, and immediately afterwards
encamped to dry our baggage.

[77] See _ante_, note 40.—ED.

The Coquille is about eight yards across; its bed muddy and the current
moderate. Its course is circuitous, traversing some inconsiderable
tracts of fertile and well wooded bottom land: in one of these our
camp was placed. The night was warm and the mosquitoes swarming in
inconceivable multitudes.

Our baggage had been wet on the preceding day, and again by a heavy
shower in the night: as the morning was cloudy, we remained in camp for
some time, and attempted to dry our clothes and blankets by a large
fire. After breakfasting we again got upon our horses, and travelling
nearly south-west, arrived in the afternoon at the valley of the Wolf
river, or Loup fork of the Platte. This river is called by the Indians
the Little Missouri, on account of its resemblance, in the velocity of
its current, the turbidness of its waters, and other respects, to that

Its sources are in the country of the Poncaras, opposite those of the
Quicurre.[78] Like the Platte, its {121} immediate valley is a broad
and woodless plain, almost without any perceptible unevenness of
surface, and bounded on each side by parallel ranges of low and barren

[78] See Lewis and Clarke, vol. i, p. 67.—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ See _ante_, note 21, for the Quicurre; and preceding
volume, note 200, for Loup River.

During our ride, as we were approaching the Loup fork, we met two
Pawnee Indians, handsomely mounted, and, as they informed us, on
their way to dance the calumet dance with the Omawhaws. We gave them
a small quantity of tobacco, and they departed, appearing highly
pleased. In the fertile grounds, along the valley of the Loup fork,
we observed several plants which we had not before seen: among these
was one belonging to the family of the malvaceæ, with a large tuberous
root which is soft and edible, being by no means ungrateful to the
taste.[79] We observed also the downy spike of the rabbit's-foot
plantain (plantago lagopus, Ph.) intermixed with the short grasses of
the prairie. The long-flowered puccoon, (batschia longiflora, N.) a
larger and more beautiful plant than the B. canescens is here frequent.
As we proceed westward, some changes are observed in the character of
the soil and the aspect of vegetation. The larkspurs and lichnedias,
(species of phlox and delphinium, so common and beautiful in all the
country between St. Louis and Council Bluff,) are succeeded by several
species of milk vetch,[80] some vicias, and the superb sweet pea
(lathyrus polymorphus). Every step of our progress to the west brought
us upon a less fertile soil. We had as yet seen no game except a few
antelopes, too wild and watchful to be taken without much trouble. In
the low prairies we saw several curlews and marbled godwits, with their
young; Bartram's sandpiper was also very frequent.

[79] This plant is destitute of the exterior calyx of the genus malva,
to which, however, it is more closely allied than to sida, into which
it would appear to fall by its artificial characters. It appears to be
a congener to the two new plants lately brought by Mr. Nuttall from
Arkansa, and which have received the name of _Nuttallia_.—JAMES.

[80] Astragalus _carnosus_, N. A. _Missouriensis_, N. A. _Laxmani_, Ph.

Gaura _coccinea_, N. Troximon _marginatum_, Ph. Hymenopappus
_tenuifolius_, Ph. Trichodium _laxiflorum_, Mx. Atheropogon
_oligostachyum_, N. Viola _palmata_, Ph? in fruit. Hedeoma _hirta_, N.
Hordeum _jubatum_, Anemone _tenella_, Ph. and other plants were among
our collections of this day.—JAMES.

{122} A little before sunset we crossed Grape Creek,[81] a small and
rapid stream of clear water, and soon after arrived at the Loup fork,
where we encamped. The banks of this river are of a fine white sand,
and are elevated no more than about eight feet above the surface of the
stream, at a time of low water. It does not however appear that the
low plains, contiguous to the Loup fork, are at any season inundated,
the channel being sufficiently wide, and the current rapid enough to
discharge all the water, which may at any time be brought down from

[81] The description of Grape Creek corresponds to the present Looking
Glass Creek, in Platte County. The Pawnee called the stream "water that
reflects your shadow." With cultivation of the adjoining lands and the
advent of herds of wading cattle, the stream has lost its clearness.—ED.

In the evening, and on the following morning, observations were taken
to ascertain the magnetic variation, which was found to be 13½° east.

On the morning of the 10th, we crossed Beaver Creek,[82] six miles
south-west of our encampment. Here we were compelled to carry across
our baggage by hand, the creek being too deep and muddy to admit
risking it on the pack-horses.

[82] For Beaver Creek, see ante, note 42.—ED.

In fording this difficult stream, we had the misfortune to lose an
important part of the lock of an air-gun, and as there were no means of
replacing the lost article, it was determined to send back the gun from
the Pawnee villages by one of the traders, who was soon to return to
the Missouri.

While we were encamped at this spot, being detained by a heavy shower,
three Frenchmen and two Indians, arrived at the ford, on their way
to the Pawnee villages. They told us they had eaten nothing since
they left the Missouri. One of the Frenchmen brought a letter from
Lieutenant Graham, and a box containing a quantity of vaccine virus,
transmitted to the exploring party, for the purpose of introducing
vaccination among the Indians. The box alluded to had been sent to
the war department, by Mr. Sylvanus Fancher,[83] a gentleman in
Connecticut, and forwarded to the commanding officer of the expedition.
It contained a considerable {123} quantity of virus, carefully enclosed
in a variety of packing apparatus, together with instructions relative
to the disposition and application of it. But as it was not transmitted
till after the departure of the expedition from Pittsburgh, it had
been forwarded by mail to St. Louis, whence it was conveyed up the
Missouri, by a gentleman of the military expedition, under Colonel
Atkinson. Unfortunately, the keel-boat, on board of which it had been
deposited, was wrecked in ascending the river, and the box and its
contents, although saved from the wreck, was thoroughly drenched, and
the virus completely ruined. It was received three or four weeks after
the catastrophe just mentioned, and was still drenched with water.

[83] Sylvanus Fancher (called "Doctor" by courtesy) was a native
of Plymouth, Connecticut. An eccentric, uneducated character, his
notoriety was due to the fact that he embraced the vaccine theory
before it was adopted by regular physicians. His operations in the
unoccupied field of New England were for a few years remunerative;
but his improvidence prevented the accumulation of a competence, and
as medical men took up the practice of vaccination, his means of
livelihood declined. He died in Hartford in abject poverty. See sketch
in Anderson, _Town and City of Waterbury, Connecticut_ (New Haven,
1896), iii, p. 831.—ED.

The Frenchmen had, on their way, caught a horse belonging to Mr. J.
Dougherty, and intended for the use of his brother, who was of our
party. He had escaped several weeks previous, from Engineer Cantonment,
and since that time had been wandering in the prairies. This formed
a valuable addition to our stock of horses, as a number of them were
already unfit for service, on account of sore backs.

The Frenchmen and Indians were supplied with provisions from our packs,
and proceeded immediately on their way, intending to reach the Pawnee
villages the same evening.

At a late hour in the afternoon we resumed our journey, and at the
distance of four miles from Beaver Creek, crossed the Creek of Souls,
a small and muddy stream, in which two of the pack-horses fell, again
wetting our baggage.

At sunset we arrived at a small creek, eleven miles distant from the
village of the Grand Pawnees, where we encamped.[84]

[84] The first creek west of Beaver is Plum, so called from the
abundance of wild plums growing on its banks; it is not shown on most
maps. The name Creek of Souls is prophetic, as a mission station was
established here in 1843. Next to Plum Creek was Council Creek, flowing
south through Boone and Nance counties. Its name commemorates an Indian
council held there some years later by Dougherty. The names of Plum
Creek and Council Creek are sometimes interchanged. Beyond Council
Creek is Cedar Creek (see _ante_, note 43).

The Grand Pawnee village stood about thirty miles above the mouth of
Loup River, which would be between the Loup and Cedar Creek. The other
villages were in the neighborhood (see _ante_, p. 149). Within a few
years the villages were moved to or below the mouth of the Loup.—ED.

On the following morning, having arranged the party according to rank,
and given the necessary instructions for the preservation of order,
we proceeded forward, and in a short time came in sight of {124} the
first of the Pawnee villages. The trace on which we had travelled
since we left the Missouri, had the appearance of being more and more
frequented as we approached the Pawnee towns; and here, instead of
a single footway, it consisted of more than twenty parallel paths,
of similar size and appearance. At a few miles distance from the
village, we met a party of eight or ten squaws with hoes and other
instruments of agriculture, on their way to the corn plantations. They
were accompanied by one young Indian, but in what capacity, whether
as assistant, protector, or task-master, we were not informed. After
a ride of about three hours, we arrived before the village, and
despatched a messenger to inform the chief of our approach.

Answer was returned that he was engaged with his chiefs and warriors
at a medicine feast, and could not, therefore, come out to meet us.
We were soon surrounded by a crowd of women and children, who gazed
at us with some expressions of astonishment; but as no one appeared
to welcome us to the village, arrangements were made for sending on
the horses and baggage to a suitable place for encampment, while Major
Long, with several gentlemen, who wished to accompany him, entered the

The party which accompanied Major Long, after groping about some time,
and traversing a considerable part of the village, arrived at the lodge
of the principal chief. Here we were again informed that Tarrarecawaho,
with all the principal men of the village, were engaged at a medicine

Notwithstanding his absence, some mats were spread for us upon the
ground, in the back part of the lodge. Upon these we sat down, and
after waiting some time, were presented with a large wooden dish of
hominy, or boiled maize. In this was a single spoon of the horn of a
bison, large enough to hold half a pint, which, being used alternately
by each of the party, soon emptied the dish of its contents.

{125} The interior of this capacious dwelling was dimly lighted from
a hole at the top, through which the sun's rays, in a defined column,
fell aslant upon the earthen floor. Immediately under this hole, which
is both window and chimney, is a small depression in the centre of the
floor, where the fire is made; but the upper parts of the lodge are
constantly filled with smoke, adding much to the air of gloominess and
obscurity which prevailed within. The furniture of Long Hair's lodge
consisted of mats, ingeniously woven of grass or rushes, bison robes,
wooden dishes, and one or two small brass kettles. In the part of the
lodge immediately opposite the entrance, we observed a rude niche in
the wall, which was occupied by a bison skull. It appeared to have been
exposed to the weather, until the flesh and periosteum had decayed, and
the bones had become white.

In this lodge we saw a number of squaws of different ages, but all, as
we supposed, the wives of Long Hair. This chief, who is somewhat of a
Turk in his domestic establishment, has eleven wives, nine of whom are
quiet occupants of the same lodge. He has but ten children.

Our visit to this village seemed to excite no great degree of
attention. Among the crowd, who surrounded us before we entered the
village, we observed several young squaws rather gaily dressed, being
wrapped in clean and new blankets, and having their heads ornamented
with wreaths of gnaphalium, and the silvery leaves of the prosalea
canescens. On the tops of the lodges we also saw some display of
finery, which we supposed to have been made on account of our visit.
Flags were hoisted, shields, and bows, and quivers, were suspended in
conspicuous places, scalps were hung out; in short, the people appeared
to have exposed whatever they possessed, in the exhibition of which
they could find any gratification of their vanity. Aside from these, we
received no distinguished marks of attention from the Grand Pawnees.

{126} After spending an hour or two at their village, we retired to our
camp about a mile distant. Here we were shortly afterwards visited by
Long Hair, the Malicious chief,[85] and several others. They had with
them a young Spaniard, who interpreted Pawnee and French, by whose
means we were able to communicate freely with them. They offered some
apology, for not receiving us at their village, saying, they could not
have left their medicine feast, if the village had been on fire. We
caused our intended route to be explained to them, with the objects we
had in view, in undertaking so long a journey. To this they answered,
that our undertaking was attended with great difficulty and danger;
that the country about the head of the Platte was filled with bands of
powerful and ferocious Indians, who would lose no opportunity to attack
and injure us; that in some parts of our route, we must suffer from
want of water, in others there was no game. "In short," said the Grand
chief, "you must have long hearts, to undertake such a journey with so
weak a force; hearts that would reach from the earth to the heavens."
These representations would, it is probable, have had some effect upon
our spirits, had we not supposed they were made entirely for that
purpose. The Pawnees undoubtedly hoped to alarm our fears to such a
degree, that we should be induced to relinquish our proposed journey;
their design being to deter us from passing through their hunting
grounds, and perhaps hoping by these means to possess themselves of a
larger share of the articles we had provided for Indian presents.

[85] Ishcatappa; see _ante_, note 46.—ED.

Finding our determination was not to be shaken, they advised us to
ascend the Loup fork, instead of taking the route by the Platte, which
we had mentioned. This advice, and the statement by which it was
accompanied, that there were no bisons on the Platte, we suspected of
originating from the same motive which had induced them to make the
representation {127} above mentioned; it was not, therefore, allowed in
any manner to influence our determination.

After collecting from them what information we could obtain, relative
to the country to the west, we endeavoured to dismiss them with
some presents. They were not, however, easily to be satisfied—they
importuned us for tobacco, and other articles, which the limited nature
of our supplies would not allow us to give, as we expected soon to meet
with Indians, whose good will it would be more important for us to

Our camp was something more than a mile from the village. The
intervening space, as well as the plain for a great extent on all
sides, was covered with great numbers of horses, intermixed with men,
women, and children. The men having no serious business, pass much of
their time in the open air, either on horseback, or engaged at some
game of hazard.

The Pawnees are expert horsemen, and delight in the exhibition of feats
of skill and adroitness. Many of their horses are branded, but this
is the case with such only as are taken in their predatory excursions
against the Spaniards of New Mexico, or the south-western Indians; the
branded horses all come originally from the Spaniards. It does not
appear that the Indians have any method of affixing distinctive marks
to their animals. Each Indian has usually but a very limited number of
horses, which are as well known, and as universally acknowledged to be
his, as the children or other members of his family. Some of the finest
horses which we observed, were ornamented with gaudy trappings, and
furniture of Spanish manufacture.

We spent some time in attempting to explain to the chiefs the nature
and effects of the vaccine disease, and in endeavouring to persuade
them to influence some of their people to submit to inoculation;
{128} but in this we were unsuccessful. It is now several years since
the ravages of the small pox have been experienced among them, and
it is probable they feel an undue degree of security against its
future visitations. We were, however, by no means confident that they
comprehended what we said on the subject of vaccination; if they did,
it is not probable their confidence in us was sufficient to induce them
to receive it as truth. All we were able to effect, was to persuade the
young Spanish interpreter to allow us to make use of his arm, to show
the Indians that the proposed operation was by no means a formidable
one. With the same intention, the operation was performed upon Major
Long's arm, and that of Mr. H. Dougherty.

We were not very solicitous to make the experiment among them, our
virus, as before remarked, being unfit for use. We were accordingly
afraid of impairing their confidence in the remedy.

In the plain about the village, we noticed several little groups of
squaws, busily engaged in dressing the skins of the bison for robes.
When the processes of tanning and dressing are completed, and the inner
surface of the skin dry, figures are traced upon it with vermilion, and
other showy colours.

These are designed as ornaments, but are sometimes a record of
important facts. The story of a battle is often depicted in this way,
and the robe of a warrior is frequently decorated with the narration,
in pictures, of some of his exploits.

During the afternoon our camp was somewhat thronged by the Indians,
offering to trade horses, and squaws proposing barters, but at night
they withdrew towards their village, and all remained quiet.

As the day began to dawn on the following morning, numerous parties
of squaws, accompanied by their dogs, were seen on their way from the
village to the corn patches, scattered at the distance of several miles.

{129} At sunrise we mounted our horses, and arranging ourselves as
on the preceding day, and carrying a white silk flag with a painted
design, emblematic of peaceable intentions in the front, and the United
States' flag in the centre of our party, we moved forward towards the
second village, distant about three miles from our camp.

The bands which inhabit this village, are called Republican Pawnees.
This name, it is said, has been applied to this band, in consequence of
their having seceded from the parent stock or Grand Pawnees, some years
since, and established themselves under a separate government.

They resided formerly on the Republican fork of the Konzas river, to
which they have given their name; whence they removed a few years since
to their present situation, that they might enjoy the protection of
their more powerful allies, the Grand Pawnees. Their village is distant
four miles from that of the Grand Pawnees, and like it on the immediate
bank of the river. Fool Robe, their chief, received us with a little
more attention than we had met on the preceding day, shaking us each by
the hand. He afterwards conducted us to his lodge, within the village,
but excused himself from feasting us, saying, his squaws were all
absent at the corn fields.

It was a war party from this band which had plundered the detachment
from the steam-boat on the preceding summer near the Konza village.
For this outrage they had been compelled, by the prompt and vigorous
interference of Major O'Fallon, the Indian agent, to make ample
restitution. Whether it was that Fool Robe and his warriors were yet
a little sore on account of this affair, or for some other reason, it
was evident we were not welcome visitants. We had hitherto entertained
exalted ideas of the hospitality of the Pawnees in their manner of
receiving strangers, and were consequently a little {130} disappointed
at the reception we had met. We stayed but a short time with Fool Robe.
Having briefly described to him the outline of our intended journey,
and listened to his remarks and advice respecting it, we remounted our
horses, and proceeded towards the Loup village.

On our way we were met by the Knife-chief, who, having heard of our
intention to visit him, came out on horseback, and met us more than
a mile from the village. He gave us a very cordial and friendly
reception, frequently rubbing his breast in token of the satisfaction
he felt at seeing us. His frank and intelligent countenance, and his
impressive gestures, made him easily understood, without the aid
of an interpreter. As our cavalcade passed by him, he appeared to
examine, with some attention, the physiognomy and appointments of
the individuals composing it; but when his rapid eye alighted upon
Julien, with whom he could use much freedom, he rode up to him, and
eagerly inquired, by means of signs, (v. Nos. 27. and 14.)[86] if we
had brought with us any whiskey, which we were grieved to learn, by
this intimation, that he was acquainted with, and would indulge in;
Julien replied in the negative, by the exhibition of the proper sign,
(No. 65.) with which he did not betray any dissatisfaction, although it
was evident from his subsequent conversation that he believed it to be
false. On the way to the village he pointed out a convenient place for
us to dispose of our horses and establish our camp. Here we dismounted,
leaving our horses in the care of the guard, and followed the chief to
his lodge. Soon after our arrival a large dish was placed before us,
according to the custom of the Indians, filled with boiled sweet corn.
While we were eating, the Knife-chief, with the principal men of his
nation, were sitting silently behind us. Having finished our repast,
we gave the Indians an account of ourselves, the occasion of our visit
to {131} them, our intended journey to the mountains at the head of
the Platte, &c. as in the other villages. To all this the Knife-chief
listened with great attention. He expressed himself satisfied with the
account we had given of the objects of our enterprize, but feared we
should be ill treated by the savages we should meet. "Your heart must
be strong," said he, "to go upon so hazardous a journey. May the Master
of Life be your protector." The same benediction had been given us by
the chiefs of the Republican and Grand Pawnees, probably with nearly
the same degree of ingenuousness and sincerity. The Pawnees are at war
with the Arrapahoes, Kaskaias,[87] and other erratic bands, who wander
about the sources of the Platte and Arkansa. Their war parties are
often sent out in that direction, where they sometimes meet a spirited
reception from their enemies. It may be on this account that the
Pawnees connect the idea of imminent danger to an excursion into those
parts of the country which we proposed to visit. It is, however, highly
probable their unwillingness to have us pass through their hunting
grounds was the most productive cause of all the anxiety, and all the
fears they expressed on our account.

[86] See Appendix B.—ED.

[87] The "Kaskaias" were closely akin to the Comanche, if not identical
with them. The name is rarely used after the date of the present
account, and the term Comanche is extended so as to include the Indians
to which it is here applied. Jedidiah Morse, Indian commissioner,
reckoned their numbers (1822) at three thousand, and located them
along the base of the Rocky Mountains, in the same area over which the
Comanche roamed.—ED.

The chief addressed us for some time with great apparent earnestness,
but his discourse, as it came to our comprehension by the aid of an
interpreter, whom we obtained at this village, seemed directed solely
to one object, the exciting our compassion for his poverty.

"Father,—You see me here; I am very poor; my young men are very poor;
we hope our Great Father will not forget the red skins, his children,
they are poor;" with a great deal more in the same strain. He, however,
returned frequently to the subject of our journey to the west. "I will
tell my young men," said he, (meaning the war parties which should be
sent out in that direction,) "when {132} they meet you, to take you by
the hand, and smoke the peace pipe with you."

The Knife-chief, with his son Petalesharoo, celebrated for his filial
affection, his valour, and his humanity, visited us at our camp in the
afternoon, and we were proud to entertain one whom we thought so worthy
of our admiration. We also received a visit from a _Medicine-man_, who,
having heard there were great medicine men belonging to our party,
requested to be shown some of the mysteries of their profession. We
accordingly displayed before him a pair of bullet-forceps, a small
case of surgeons' instruments, and some similar articles, and began
to explain to him the use of each. He attended for some time to our
discourse, but apparently without comprehending any part of it, and
at length turned abruptly away, with an air of dissatisfaction and

The Canadian, who had been engaged before we left the Missouri as a
guide, now gave us to understand that it was not his intention to
accompany the expedition. Having been informed of other persons in
the village who were qualified for this undertaking, Major Long made
application to several of these, who at first expressed a willingness
to accompany him, but soon afterwards recalled their promises.
Finding them disposed to trifle in this manner, he at length assured
them that, unless some one was immediately procured to attend the
expedition as guide, their refusal, and the breach of engagement on
the part of Bijeau, should be made known to the agent, and the whole
corps of Canadian traders be deprived of the privilege of residing, or
trading among the Pawnees. This representation had the desired effect.
A ludicrous degree of consternation and alarm was depicted upon the
faces of all the traders, and they immediately made a common concern
of a subject which before they had treated with very little attention.
Two were immediately selected {133} from their number, and were in a
short time ready to attend us. It is probable almost any other method
of punishment would have appeared to them less terrible. Having been
long resident among the Indians, they have conformed to their mode of
life, which certainly is not without its charms to the uninformed and
the idle. A tie not less powerful is that of conjugal and paternal
affection, they having among the Indians wives and children relying
upon their exertions for protection and maintenance.

About the village we saw several parties of young men eagerly engaged
at games of hazard. One of these, which we noticed particularly, is
played between two persons, and something is staked on the event of
each game. The instruments used are a small hoop, about six inches
in diameter, which is usually wound with thongs of leather, and a
pole, five or six feet long, on the larger end of which a limb is
left to project about six inches. The whole bears some resemblance to
a shepherd's crook. The game is played upon a smooth beaten path, at
one end of which the gamester commences, and running at full speed, he
first rolls from him the hoop, then discharges after it the pole, which
slides along the path, pursuing the hoop, until both stop together,
at a distance of about thirty yards from the place whence they were
thrown. After throwing them from him, the gamester continues his pace,
and the Indian, the hoop, and the pole arrive at the end of the path
about the same time. The effort appears to be to place the end of the
pole either in the ring, or as near as possible; and we could perceive
that those casts were considered best when the ring was caught by
the hook at the end of the pole. What constitutes a point, or how
many points are reckoned to the game, we could not ascertain. It is,
however, sufficiently evident that they are desperate gamesters, often
losing their ornaments, articles of dress, &c. at play.

{134} This game, like some of those described in a former part of
this work, requires considerable exertion, and is well calculated
for the exhibition of that gracefulness of figure, and that ease and
celerity of motion in which the savages so far surpass their civilized
neighbours. We saw many young men engaged at these diversions, who
had thrown aside their robes, leggins, and all superfluous articles
of dress, displaying a symmetry of proportion, and beauty of form,
which we have rarely seen surpassed. They were so intent upon their
diversion, that in some instances our approach towards them, as we
were rambling about the village, did not for a moment call off their
attention from the game.

The population of the three Pawnee villages was estimated by Captain
Pike, in 1806, at 6,223, and they were at that time supposed to be
able to call into the field 1,993 warriors. At present it is believed
they would fall short of this estimate, particularly in the number
of warriors. They are, however, still numerous, and are said to be
increasing, and are respected by the Sioux, and other neighbouring
nations, as warlike and powerful.[88]

[88] The Pawnee now number about six hundred and fifty souls.—ED.

About the three villages are six or eight thousand horses, feeding
in the plains during the day, but confined at night. These, with a
breed of sharp-eared, meagre, wolf-like dogs, are their only domestic
animals. On the approach of winter they conceal their stores of corn,
dry pumpkins, beans, &c. and with their whole retinue of dogs and
horses desert their villages. This they are compelled to do from the
want of wood, not only for fuel, but for the support of their numerous

They encamp in their lodges of skins wherever the cotton wood is found
in sufficient quantities for their horses, and game for themselves.
The horses, in the country bordering the Missouri, are fed during the
winter, in the extensive wooded bottoms of that river, and are not,
therefore, confined exclusively to {135} the cotton wood, having access
to other timber, also to the rushes and coarse grass which abound in
the bottoms. We are, however, well assured that the Indian horses,
farther to the west, about the upper branches of the Platte, and
Arkansa, subsist and thrive during the winter, with no other article
of food than the bark and branches of the cotton wood. The winter at
the Pawnee villages is said to be uncommonly severe, but is probably
little, if any more so, than at Council Bluff, on the Missouri.
Thermometric observations at Council Bluff, and at St. Peters[89]
on the Mississippi, prove that the climate at these two places does
not very widely differ from that of the corresponding latitudes on
the Atlantic coast, except that it is at times something colder. The
vicissitudes of temperature appear to be equally great and sudden.

[89] The purposes of the Yellowstone expedition included the
establishment of this military post at the mouth of Minnesota River;
during 1819 barracks were erected and fortifications begun.—ED.

The climate at Council Bluff is beyond the influence of the
south-western winds from the Gulf of Mexico, which have been supposed
to have so perceptible an effect to soften the rigours of winter in
the valley of the Lower Mississippi. The three Pawnee villages, with
their pasture grounds and insignificant enclosures, occupy about ten
miles in length of the fertile valley of the Wolf river. The surface is
wholly naked of timber, rising gradually to the river hills, which are
broad and low, and from a mile to a mile and an half distant. The soil
of this valley is deep and of inexhaustible fertility. The surface,
to the depth of two or three feet, is a dark coloured vegetable mould
intermixed with argillaceous loam, and still deeper, with a fine
siliceous sand. The agriculture of the Pawnees is extremely rude. They
are supplied with a few hoes by the traders, but many of their labours
are accomplished with the rude instruments of wood and bone which
their own ingenuity supplies. They plant corn and pumpkins in little
patches along the sides of deep ravines, and wherever by any accident
the grassy {136} turf has been eradicated. Sometimes these little
plantations are enclosed with a sort of wicker fence, and in other
instances are left entirely open. These last are probably watched by
the squaws during the day time, when the horses run at large.

We slept on the night of 12th at our encampment in front of the Pawnee
Loup village. During the night all remained at rest except the dogs,
who howled in concert, in the same voice, and nearly to the same tune,
as the wolves, to whose nightly serenade we were now accustomed.

As soon as the day dawned we observed the surrounding plain filled
with groups of squaws, with their small children, trooping to their
cornfields in every direction. Some, who passed our encampment,
lingered a moment to admire our novel appearance; but the air of
serious business was manifest in their countenances, and they soon
hurried away to their daily labours. Some of the groups of young
females were accompanied by a jolly looking young man as a protector.
Their corn is usually gathered before it is entirely ripe, it is then
boiled, cut from the cob, and dried. Their cookery consists in boiling
it, either with or without the tallow of the bison, according to the
state of their supplies. The pumpkins are cut in slips, which are
dried in the sun, and afterwards woven into mats for the convenience
of carrying. They offered us these articles in exchange for tobacco,
vermillion, beads, looking-glasses, and various other trinkets. Also
jerked bison beef, and the tallow of that animal, of which we purchased
a small quantity. We saw among them the _pomme blanche_, as called by
the Canadian traders and boatmen, which is the root of the Psoralea
_esculenta_. It is eaten either boiled or roasted, and somewhat
resembles the sweet potato.

At ten o'clock, on the morning of the 13th, we commenced crossing
the river, opposite the village. This we found an undertaking of
some difficulty, as {137} the current was rapid, and the bottom
partook something of the nature of quick-sands. Major Long, Mr. Say,
and one or two others, who were riding at the head of our line, had
nearly crossed, and were wading their horses about midsides deep
in the water, when they were suddenly thrown from their saddles by
the sinking of their horses' feet in the sand; the horses, however,
extricated themselves by their own exertion; and those of the party who
had experienced this unexpected immersion, were greeted, upon their
standing up in the water, by the shouts and acclamations of the Pawnees
who lined the shore we had left. Major Long's gun and jacob-staff, as
well as Mr. Say's gun, blanket, and other articles, were dropped into
the river; all of these were, however, recovered except the blanket;
and Mr. Say, having lost the greater part of his furniture at the
river of Souls, by the ill-timed activity of his horse, was now, in a
great measure, unencumbered with baggage. At length, by leading our
horses, we arrived in safety on the opposite shore, where we encamped,
intending to make some further barters with the Pawnees, and to dry
some of our baggage, guns, &c. which had been wet in crossing.

The sand of this river, which in the aggregate, has a very white
appearance, consists principally of minute grains of transparent
quartz, mixed with some which are red, yellow, and variously coloured.
The shore, opposite the Loup village, is covered with shrubs and other
plants, growing among the loose sands. One of the most common is a
large flowering rose, rising to about three feet high, and diffusing a
most grateful fragrance. The Symphoria _glomerata_, common in all the
country west of the Mississippi thus far, is also a beautiful shrub
very frequent at this place; the flowers are white, with a faint
and delicate tinge of red, having the inside of the corolla densely
villous, like the Mitchilla, to which plant it is manifestly allied. On
the hills, at {138} a little distance from the river, we observed the
_Cactus fragilis_. This plant, which was first detected on the Missouri
by Lewis and Clark, has been accurately described by Mr. Nuttall. The
articulations or joints of which it consists, are small, oblong, and
tapering, but separate from each other with great readiness, and adhere
by means of the barbed spines, with which they are thickly set, to
whatever they may happen to touch. This has led to a saying among the
hunters, that the plant grows without roots.

In the afternoon a young Indian belonging to the Arikara nation on the
Missouri, but who resided among the Pawnees, stopped at our camp, on
his return from a solitary excursion to the Arkansa. He had brought
with him, from one of the upper branches of that river, two masses of
salt, each weighing about thirty pounds. This salt is pure and perfect,
consisting of large crystalline grains, so concreted together as to
form a mass about twenty inches in diameter and six in thickness. It
had evidently been formed by the evaporation of water in some pond
or basin, and that surface of the mass, which was its lower in its
original position, was intermixed with red sand, indicating the sort
of soil in which it is found. Mr. Peale procured some specimens in
exchange for tobacco.

This Indian had been many days absent, on his excursion, and as he sat
upon his horse before our encampment we had an opportunity to note a
trait in the Indian character, which has been the subject of remark by
many authors, and which we had previously observed in several instances
ourselves; we allude to the apparent coolness which friends, and
the nearest relatives, observe to each other when they meet after a
long separation. Several of his fellow townsmen, who were about our
encampment, hardly noticed him when he first appeared, and it was only
after the lapse of a considerable interval {139} that one of them spoke
to him, but without any visible ceremony of greeting.

On the morning of the 14th, we left our encampment, opposite the
village of the Pawnee Loups, and proceeded on our journey, taking the
most direct course towards the Platte. Our party had here received
an addition of two men, one named Bijeau, engaged as guide and
interpreter, the other, Ledoux, to serve as hunter, farrier, &c. Both
were Frenchmen, residing permanently among the Pawnees, and had been
repeatedly on the head waters of the Platte and Arkansa, for the
purpose of hunting and trapping beaver. Bijeau was partially acquainted
with several Indian languages; in particular, that of the Crow nation,
which is extensively understood by the western tribes, and, by frequent
intercourse with the savages he had gained a complete knowledge of
the language of signs, universally current among them. The great
number, and the wide dissimilarity of the dialects of the aborigines
render this method of communication necessary to them, and it is not
surprising it should have arrived at considerable perfection among
tribes who, from their situation and manner of life, must often find
occasion to make use of it.

Besides these two men, a young Spaniard, a refugee from some of the
settlements of New Mexico, joined our party, intending to accompany us
as far as his fear of his own countrymen would permit. He had probably
been guilty of some misdemeanor, which made it necessary to avoid his
former acquaintances, and, on this account, he could not be induced
to accompany us into the neighbourhood of the Spanish settlements.
The Frenchmen brought with them three horses and a mule, so that our
party, which was now supposed to be made up for the journey, consisted,
exclusive of the Spaniard, of twenty-two men, thirty-four horses and
mules, and two dogs.

{140} We were well armed and equipped, each man carrying a yauger or
rifle gun, with the exception of two or three who had muskets; most
of us had pistols, all tomahawks and long knives, which we carried
suspended at our belts. We believed ourselves about to enter on a
district of country inhabited by lawless and predatory bands of
savages, where we should have occasion to make use, not only of our
arms, but of whatever share of courage and hardihood we might chance to

The country which we passed on the 14th, lying between the Loup fork
and the Platte, has a moderately hilly surface, except that portion of
it which comprises the bottom lands of the two rivers. The ridges are
of little elevation, destitute of stone of any kind, and irregular in
direction; the soil is sandy and infertile. The high and barren parts
of this tract are occupied by numerous communities of the Prairie dog
or Louisiana marmot.[90]

[90] _Arctomys Ludoviciana._ ORD.—This interesting and sprightly little
animal has received the absurd and inappropriate name of Prairie dog,
from a fancied resemblance of its warning cry to the hurried barking of
a small dog. This sound may be imitated with the human voice, by the
pronunciation of the syllable cheh, cheh, cheh, in a sibilated manner,
and in rapid succession, by propelling the breath between the tip of
the tongue and the roof of the mouth. The animal is of a light dirty
reddish-brown colour above, which is intermixed with some gray, also a
few black hairs. This coating of hair is of a dark lead colour next the
skin, then bluish-white, then light reddish, then gray at the tip. The
lower parts of the body are of a dirty white colour. The head is wide
and depressed above, with large eyes; the iris is dark brown. The ears
are short and truncated; the whiskers of moderate length and black; a
few bristles project from the anterior portion of the superior orbit of
the eye, and a few also from a wart on the cheek: the nose is somewhat
sharp and compressed; the hair of the anterior legs, and that of the
throat and neck, is not dusky at base. All the feet are five-toed,
covered with very short hair, and armed with rather long black nails:
the exterior one of the fore foot nearly attains the base of the next,
and the middle one is half an inch in length: the thumb is armed with
a conic nail, three-tenths of an inch in length; the tail is rather
short, banded with brown near the tip, and the hair, excepting near the
body, is not plumbeous at base.[91]

The length of the animal, from the tip of the nose to the origin of the
tail, is sixteen inches; of the tail, two inches and three-fourths; of
the hair at its tip three-fourths of an inch.

As particular districts, of limited extent, are, in general, occupied
by the burrows of these animals, such assemblages of dwellings are
denominated _Prairie dog villages_ by hunters and others who wander in
these remote regions.

These villages, like those of man, differ widely in the extent of
surface which they occupy; some are confined to an area of a few acres,
others are bounded by a circumference of many miles. Only one of these
villages occurred between the Missouri and the Pawnee towns; thence to
the Platte they were much more numerous.

The entrance to the burrow is at the summit of the little mound of
earth, brought up by the animal during the progress of the excavation

These mounds are sometimes inconspicuous, but generally somewhat
elevated above the common surface, though rarely to the height of
eighteen inches. Their form is that of a truncated cone, on a base of
two or three feet, perforated by a comparatively large hole or entrance
at the summit or in the side. The whole surface, but more particularly
the summit, is trodden down and compacted, like a well-worn pathway.
The hole descends vertically to the depth of one or two feet, whence it
continues in an oblique direction downward.

A single burrow may have many occupants. We have seen as many as seven
or eight individuals sitting upon one mound.

They delight to sport about the entrance of their burrows in pleasant
weather; at the approach of danger they retreat to their dens; or
when its proximity is not too immediate, they remain, barking, and
flourishing their tails, on the edge of their holes, or sitting erect
to reconnoitre. When fired upon in this situation, they never fail to
escape, or if killed, instantly to fall into their burrows, where they
are beyond the reach of the hunter.

As they pass the winter in a lethargic sleep, they lay up no provision
of food for that season, but defend themselves from its rigours
by accurately closing up the entrance of the burrow. The further
arrangements which the Prairie dog makes for its comfort and security
are well worthy of attention. He constructs for himself a very neat
globular cell with fine dry grass, having an aperture at top, large
enough to admit the finger, and so compactly formed that it might
almost be rolled over the floor without receiving injury.

The burrows are not always equidistant from each other, though they
occur usually at intervals of about twenty feet.[92]—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ The scientific name of the prairie-dog is now _cynomys
ludovicianus_; see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v, note 61.

[91] This description is drawn chiefly from a well-prepared specimen
belonging to the Philadelphia museum, the tail of which, if we may
decide from memory, is somewhat too short.

[92] In these villages, where the grass is fed close, and where much
fresh earth is brought up and exposed to the air, is the peculiar
habitat of a species of Solanum approaching the _S. triflorum_ of
Nuttall, which, he says, occurs as a weed "about the gardens of the
Mandans and Minatarees of the Missouri, and in no other situations." It
appears to differ from the S. triflorum in being a little hirsute, with
flat, runcinate, pinnatifid leaves, and the peduncles alternating with
the leaves. The Solanum _heterandrum_ of Pursh, now referred to the new
genus Androcera of Nuttall, is also very common, but is not confined,
like the plant just mentioned, to the marmot villages. We collected
also the Psoralea _cuspidata_, Ph. P. _esculenta_, N. P. _incana_, N.
also a species of Hieracium—H. _runcinatum_. Plant hirsute, leaves
all radical, elliptic-oblong, runcinate; scape few-flowered, somewhat
compressed, and angular; glands on the hairs of the calix, very small
and diaphanous; about one foot high; flower small. Hab. in depressed,
grassy situations along the Platte.

On arriving near the Platte we observed a species of prickly pear
(_Cactus ferox. N._) to become very numerous. It resembles the common
prickly pear of New Jersey, (_C. opuntia._) but is larger, and
protected by a more formidable armature of thorns. Our Indian horses
were so well acquainted with this plant, and its properties, that they
used the utmost care to avoid stepping near it. The flowers are of a
sulphur yellow, and when fully expanded are nearly as large as those of
the garden pæony, and crowded together upon the summits of the terminal
articulations of which the plant consists. These articulations, (or
segments contained between the joints,) are oblong and flattened,
being longer and thicker than a man's hand. A second species, the _C.
mamillaris, N._ occurs on the dry sandy ridges between the Pawnee
villages and the Platte. The beautiful cristaria _coccinea. Ph._ (malva
_coccinea. N._) is very frequent in the low plains along the Platte.
Its flowers {141} have nearly the aspect of those of the common wild
rose, except that they are more deeply coloured.

We arrived at the Platte, a little before sun-set, the distance from
the Pawnees being, according to our computation, twenty-five miles.
After entering the valley of the river, we travelled several miles
across an unvaried plain, and at length passing down by a gradual
descent of a few feet, we came upon a second level tract, extending to
the river.

The soil of the first of these portions is a bed of sand, intermixed
with small water-worn pebbles and gravel; that of the latter is more
fertile, and produces a luxuriant vegetation.

Our guide informed us that the Platte, opposite the point where we
entered its valley, contains an island which is more than one day's
journey across, and about thirty miles in length.[93]

[93] Known as Grand Island. It extends from Buffalo County on the
west through Hall into Merrick County. The dimensions given in the
text are not accurate; it has an average width of only a mile and
three-quarters, but is more than fifty miles in length. Frémont
described it (1842) as well timbered, fertile, and above high water
level; he noted it as the most suitable site on the lower Platte
for a military post. See _Report of Exploring Expedition to Rocky
Mountains in the Year 1842_ (Washington, 1845), p. 78. Fort Kearney
was established in 1848, in Kearney County, near the upper end of the

At no great distance from our camp, which was placed immediately on the
brink of the river, we found the body of a horse lying dead in the edge
of the water. The animal had, in all probability, been recently lost by
a war party of Indians.

15th. Soon after leaving our camp we crossed a small stream, tributary
to the Platte, from the north. It is called Great Wood river, and has
some timber along its banks.[94]

[94] Now Wood River. It rises in Custer County, flows southeast through
Dawson and western Buffalo counties, then turns and flows east by
northeast to central Hall County, where it empties into the channel of
the Platte, which runs north of Grand Island. The timber on its banks,
from which it obtained its name, was consumed in building the Union
Pacific Railroad.—ED.

Our provisions being nearly exhausted, two of the hunters were sent
forward in search of game; but after some time they rejoined the party,
having killed nothing.

Shortly afterwards a single bison was discovered some miles ahead of
the party, and travelling apparently in the same direction. Four of
our hunters, having disencumbered their horses of all their baggage,
spurred forward in the pursuit, but none of them were able to overtake
the animal, except the young Spaniard, who came near enough to wound it
with an arrow; but his horse being exhausted, he {142} was compelled to
desist from the pursuit, and suffer the bison to escape.

Having ascended the Platte about sixteen miles, we halted, to make
such a dinner as the condition of our stores would allow; and here the
Spaniard took his leave of us to return to the Pawnees.

In the scenery of the Platte there is the utmost uniformity; a broad
plain, unvaried by any object on which the eye can rest, lies extended
before us; on our right are the low and distant hills which bound the
valley, and on our left the broad Platte, studded with numerous small
but verdant islands. On these islands is usually a little timber, which
is not met with in other situations. We were fortunate in finding,
towards evening, an old Indian encampment, where were poles, stakes,
&c. which had been brought from the islands, and here we placed our
camp. Some antelopes were seen during the day, but so wild and vigilant
that all our efforts to take them proved unsuccessful. Our supper,
therefore, was not of the choicest kind, and, what was infinitely more
vexatious to us, was limited in quantity.

On the following day we passed a number of prairie dog villages, some
of them extending from two to three miles along the river. Though much
in want of game, most of our exertions to take these animals were
without success. A number were killed, but we were able to possess
ourselves of no more than two of them. These we found to be in good
condition and well flavoured. Their flesh nearly resembles that of the
ground hog, or woodchuck (Arctomys Marylandica.)

In some small ponds near the Platte we saw the common species of
pond weed (Potamogeton _natans_ and P. _fluitans_. Ph.) also the
Utricularia longirostris, of Leconte, and an interesting species of

[95] Among other plants collected along the Platte on the 15th and
16th June, are the Cherianthus _asper_, N., Helianthemum _canadense_,
Atheropogon _apludoides_, N., Myosotis _scorpioides_, Pentstemon
_gracile_. N. The Cherianthus asper is intensely bitter in every part,
particularly the root, which is used as medicine by the Indians. In
depressed and moist places along the river, we observed a species of
Plantago, which is manifestly allied to P. _eriophora_ of Wallich,
Flor. Ind. p. 423, also to P. _attenuata_ of the same work, p. 422.
The base of the scape and leaves is invested with a dense tuft of long
fine wool, of a rusty brown colour. Before the plant is taken up this
tuft is concealed in the soil, being a little below the surface, but it
adheres closely to the dried specimen. Its leaves, which are the size
of those of P. _lanceolata_, are smooth, fine nerved, with a few remote
denticulations. Scape slender, exceeding the leaves; bractæas ovate,
spike slender, few-flowered—P. _attenuata_, Bradbury?—JAMES.

By observations at morning and evening the magnetic variation was found
thirteen and an half degrees{143} east. In the middle of the day the
heat was excessive, and we were under the necessity of halting at a
place where no shade could be found to shelter us from the scorching
rays of the sun, except what was afforded by our tents, which were set
up for this purpose. Here we remained until 4 P. M. when we resumed our
journey. We crossed towards evening a small creek, three miles beyond
which we arrived at an old Indian camp, where we halted for the night.
We had not been long here before a tremendous storm of wind assailed
our tents with such violence, that it was only by stationing ourselves
outside, and holding the margin to the ground, that we were able to
keep them standing.

Two of the hunters who had been sent out during the afternoon, returned
to camp late in the evening, bringing in a buck antelope, a highly
acceptable acquisition to us, as we had been for some time restricted
to short commons. The flesh we found palatable, being very similar in
every respect to that of the common deer.

We had proceeded but a few miles from our camp, on the following
morning, when we perceived a number of antelopes, at a little distance
in the prairie. Being on the windward side of the party, they were not
able, by their sense of smelling, to inform themselves of the nature of
the danger which was approaching. One of them, leaving his companions,
came so near our line as to be within the reach of a rifle ball, and
was killed by Lieutenant Swift.

The antelope possesses an unconquerable inquisitiveness, of which
the hunters often take advantage, to compass the destruction of the
animal. The attempt to approach immediately towards them in the open
plain, where they are always found, rarely proves successful. Instead
of this, the hunter, getting as near the animal as is practicable,
without exciting alarm, conceals himself by lying down, then fixing
a handkerchief or cap upon the end of his {144} ramrod, continues to
wave it, still remaining concealed. The animal, after a long contest
between curiosity and fear, at length approaches near enough to become
a sacrifice to the former.[96]

[96] See Bradbury, p. 113.—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ See reprint in volume v of our series, p. 123.

In the afternoon a single bison was seen at the distance of several
miles, being the second since we had left the Pawnee villages, which
were now about a hundred miles distant, and we were beginning to fear
that the representations of the Indians, in relation to the difficulty
of procuring game to subsist so large a party as ours, would prove
true. We found, however, that every part of the country, which we
had recently passed, had, at no distant period, been occupied by
innumerable herds of bisons. Their tracks and dung were still to be
seen in vast numbers; and the surface of the ground was strewed with
skulls and skeletons, which were yet undecayed.

At 4 o'clock P. M. we arrived at an old Indian encampment, opposite an
island, on which was some wood, and perceiving that none would be met
with for many miles a-head, we determined to halt here for the night.

The 18th, being Sunday, we remained in camp. This indulgence was not
only highly acceptable to the soldiers and men who accompanied us, they
being much harassed and fatigued by their exertions during the week,
but was necessary for our horses, which, not being in good condition
when we left the Missouri, were perceptibly failing under the laborious
services they were made to perform. At our nightly encampments we found
it necessary to confine them, as we had not always a plentiful supply
of grass in the immediate vicinity of our camp, and if left at large
they would wander in search of better pasture, and occasion us great
trouble to collect them again in the morning. Accordingly, long ropes
had been provided, {145} which were carried constantly on the necks
of the horses, and by these they were made fast during the night to
stakes driven into the ground. After having eaten all the grass within
his reach, the horse was removed to another place, and this was done
several times during the night, by a guard kept constantly on duty,
both for the performance of this service, and also to give timely
notice in case of the approach of Indians to the camp. Notwithstanding
this care, on our part, our horses were sometimes but poorly fed,
as we were often compelled to encamp in places where little grass
was to be found. When we remained in camp during the day, they were
suffered to range more at liberty, a watch being kept out to prevent
their wandering too great a distance. Notwithstanding the sabbath was
devoted to the refreshment of our horses, and the relaxation of the
men who accompanied us, some attention was given to the great objects
of the expedition. Astronomical observations for the correction of our
time-piece, and for other purposes, were made. At Engineer Cantonment
we had furnished ourselves with portfolios of paper, to receive
specimens of such plants as we might collect; but we found that the
precautions which had been used to protect these from the weather had
been insufficient, some of our collections being in part wet, and
others having been made during the heavy rains, which fell before we
reached the Pawnee villages, required much attention. The sabbath
also afforded us an opportunity to devote a little attention to the
important objects of personal cleanliness and comfort. The plain about
our encampment was strewed with the bones of the bison, and other
animals; and among the rest we distinguished some of men. We picked up
a number of human skulls, one of which we thought it no sacrilege to
compliment with a place upon one of our pack-horses. Our guides could
give us no satisfactory information of the time and manner in which
the several persons, {146} to whom these bones formerly belonged, had
been compelled to lay them down in this place; it is certain, however,
that at no very distant period, a battle had been fought, or a massacre
committed, on this spot.

We had now arrived at a point about two hundred miles distant from the
confluence of the Platte and Missouri, yet the character of the former
river was but little changed. It was still from one to three miles in
breadth, containing numerous islands, covered with a scanty growth of
cotton-wood willows, the amorpha fruticosa, and other shrubs.


    The Platte—Desert Plains—Mirage—Arrival at the Rocky Mountains.

THE Platte, called by the Otoes Ne-braska, (Flat river, or water,)
is, as its name imports, almost uniformly broad and shoal. It is
fordable at almost any place, except when swollen by freshets, which
occur in the spring season, from the melting of snow, and occasionally
during the other portions of the year, from excessive rain. Its bed is
composed almost exclusively of sand, forming innumerable bars, which
are continually changing their position, and moving downward, till at
length they are discharged into the Missouri, and swept away to the
ocean by that rapid and turbulent river.

The range of the Platte, from extreme low to extreme high water is very
inconsiderable, manifestly not exceeding six or eight feet. This is
about the usual height of its banks above the surface of the sand which
forms its bed. The banks are sometimes overflowed, but evidently to no
great extent. The rapidity of the current, and the great width of the
bed of the river, preclude the possibility of any extensive inundation
of the surrounding country. The bottom lands of the river rise by an
imperceptible ascent on each side, extending laterally to a distance
of from two to ten miles, where they are terminated by low ranges of
gravelly hills, running parallel to the general direction of the river.
Beyond these the surface is an undulating plain, having an elevation of
from fifty to one hundred feet, and presenting the aspect of hopeless
and irreclaimable sterility.

The Missouri, in compliance with the usage of boatmen, hunters, &c.,
has been usually considered under two divisions; the lower extending
from the {148} Mississippi to the confluence of the Platte, and the
upper, comprehending all above that point. As might be expected, the
influx of so large and so peculiar a river as the Platte, gives a new
character to the Missouri below. It is more rapid, more difficult of
navigation, and the water more turbid than above.

Among other plants observed about our encampment, was the wild
liquorice, (glycyrhiza lepidota, N.) which is believed to be the plant
mentioned by Sir A. Mackenzie,[97] which is used as food by the savages
of the north-west. The root is large and long, spreading horizontally
to a great distance. In taste it bears a very slight resemblance to
the liquorice of the shops, but is bitter and nauseous. The leaves are
frequently covered with a viscid exudation.

[97] For sketch of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, see Franchère's
_Narrative_, in our volume vi, note 4.—ED.

We were prevented from continuing our astronomical observations, in the
afternoon, the weather becoming cloudy, and at evening a thunder-storm
commenced, which continued with short intermissions during the night.
The lightning exhibited an incessant glare, and peals of thunder which
seemed to shake the earth to its centre, followed each other in rapid

On Monday the 19th, we moved on, and ascending the Platte about thirty
miles, arrived in the evening at a place where the hills on the north
side close in, quite to the bed of the river. On both sides they
became more broken and elevated, and on the north, they approached
so near to the bed of the Platte, that we were under the necessity of
travelling across them. We were glad, however, of any change of scene.
The monotony of a vast unbroken plain, like that in which we had now
travelled nearly one hundred and fifty miles, is little less tiresome
to the eye, and fatiguing to the spirit, than the dreary solitude of
the ocean.[98]

[98] The Sand Hills begin at about the hundredth meridian, which
crosses the Platte in western Dawson County.—ED.

With this change of the surface, some change is observed in the
vegetable products of the soil. Here {149} we first saw a new species
of prickly poppy,[99] with a spreading white flower, as large as that
of the common poppy of the gardens. The aspect of this plant is very
similar to that of the common poppy, except that the leaves are covered
with innumerable large and strong prickles. When wounded it exudes a
thick yellowish sap, intensely bitter to the taste. On the summits
of some of the dry sandy ridges, we saw a few of the plants called
Adam's needles, (yucca angustifolia) thriving with an appearance of
luxuriance and verdure, in a soil which bids defiance to almost every
other species of vegetation. Nature has, however, fitted the yucca for
the ungenial soil it is destined to occupy. The plant consists of a
large tuft of rigid spear-pointed leaves, placed immediately upon the
root, and sending up in the flowering season, a stalk bearing a cluster
of lilliaceous flowers as large as those of the common tulip of the
gardens. The root bears more resemblance to the trunk of a tree, than
to the roots of ordinary plants. It is two or three inches in diameter,
descending undivided to a great depth below the surface, where it is
impossible the moisture of the earth should ever be exhausted, and
there terminates in numerous spreading branches. In some instances,
the sand is blown from about the root, leaving several feet of it
exposed, and supporting the dense leafy head, at some distance from the

[99] Argemone alba, a large plant, very distinct from A.

[100] Other plants found here, were the great sunflower Helianthus
_giganteus_, Asclepias _obtusifolia_, Ph., A. _viridiflora_, Ph.,
A. _syriaca_, and A. _incarnata_, Amorpha _canescens_, N., Erigeron
_pumilum_, N., A. Veronica approaching V. _deccabunga_ Scuttellaria
_galericulata_, Rumex _venosus_, N., and several which are believed to
be undescribed.—JAMES.

Several bisons and other game, had been seen in the course of the
day, but nothing taken. As our provisions were now exhausted, it was
resolved to remain encamped where we were, while parties were sent out
in different directions to hunt.[101]

[101] In rain water puddles, we remarked a new species of Branchiopode
belonging to the genus Apus; small crustaceous animals, which exhibit
a miniature resemblance to the King or Horse-shoe Crab, (Himulus
polyphemus,) of our sea coast, but which are furnished with about
sixty pairs of feet, and swim upon their back. The basins of water,
which contained them, had been very much diminished by evaporation
and infiltration, and were now crowded to excess, principally with
the apus, great numbers of which were dying upon the surrounding mud,
whence the water had receded. This species is distinguished from the
_productus_ of Bosc, and _montagui_ of Leach, by not having the dorsal
carina prolonged in a point behind; and from _cancriformis_, by the
greater proportional width of the thorax, and more obtuse emargination
behind. The length of the thorax along the middle, is three-tenths of
an inch, and its greatest breadth somewhat more. It may be named _Apus

A very large species of Cypris, also inhabits these small rainwater
pools in great numbers, of which the valves are more than one-fifth of
an inch in length.—JAMES.

Being now at a place where, as our guide informed us, the Pawnees
often cross the Platte, and as it was our intention to ascend on the
other side of the river, Major Long rode across to ascertain the
practicability {150} of fording; but the summer freshet being now
at its height, it was found the river could not be crossed without
swimming, and the design was relinquished. Six of our party, including
the hunters, were sent out in pursuit of game.

At camp, observations were taken for ascertaining longitude and other
purposes. At evening, Mr. Peale returned, having killed an antelope at
the distance of ten miles from the camp, and brought it within about
four, where being fatigued and hungry, he had made a fire, cooked
and ate part of the animal, and left the remainder, suspending a
handkerchief near it, to protect it from the wolves. Soon afterwards
others returned, and when all were collected, it appeared there had
been killed one bison, two antelopes, and a hare, all at a distance
from camp. Horses were accordingly sent out to bring in the meat, a
part of which we attempted to dry during the night, by cutting it in
thin pieces and exposing it over a slow fire, but a storm of wind and
rain, which continued greater part of the night, prevented our success
in this attempt.

21st. The storm continued throughout the night, and the following day
was cold, with a heavy mist from the south-east.

After travelling this day our customary distance, which was about
twenty-five miles, we were compelled to halt at a place where we could
find no poles to set up our tents. We were fortunate in finding part of
a tree which had drifted down the Platte, and which sufficed to make
a fire for the cooking of our supper. An Indian dog, who had made his
appearance at the encampment on the preceding day, had followed us thus
far, but kept aloof, not allowing us to come within one or two hundred
yards of him.

On the following morning, six miles from our camp, we arrived at the
confluence of the north and south fork of the Platte. We had halted
here, and were making preparations to examine the north fork, with a
view of crossing it, when we saw two elk plunge into the river a little
above us on the same {151} side. Perceiving it was their design to
cross the river, we watched them until they arrived on the other side,
which they did without swimming. We accordingly chose the same place
they had taken, and putting a part of our baggage in a skin canoe,
waded across, leading our horses, and arrived safely on the other side;
no accident having happened, except the wetting of such of our baggage
as was left on the horses.

The north fork at its confluence is about eight hundred yards wide, is
shoal and rapid like the Platte, and has a sandy bed. We were informed
by our guide, who had been repeatedly to its sources, that it rises
within the Rocky Mountains, about one hundred and twenty miles north of
the sources of the Platte.

It is probably the river which was mistaken by Captain Pike for the
Yellow-stone, and has been laid down as such on his map, whence the
mistake has been copied into several others. It has its source in
numerous small streams, which descend from the hill surrounding a
circumscribed valley within the mountains, called the Bull-pen. This
basin is surrounded by high and rugged mountains, except at the place
where the north fork passes into the plains. On each side of this
strait, or pass, are high and abrupt rocky promontories, which confine
the river to a narrow channel. The diameter of the circumscribed
valley, called the Bull-pen, is one day's travel, about twenty
miles.[102] The upper branches of the north fork have some timber,
mostly cotton-wood and willow, and abound in beaver.[103]

[102] North Platte River rises in Laramie County, Colorado, in the high
valley called North Park, enclosed by the Park Range and the Medicine
Bow Mountains. It flows north to Natrona County, in central Wyoming,
and thence turns to the southeast.—ED.

[103] _Castor fiber._—Some of the European naturalists appear to
be in doubt, whether or not the beavers of Europe are of the same
species with ours, from the circumstance of the former not erecting
habitations for themselves, thus appearing to differ at least in habit,
from the North American, (which are usually but improperly called,
Canada beaver, as they are not confined to Canada, but are found far
south in the United States, and east to the confluence of the Ohio
and Mississippi,) but it is possible, that the aboriginal manners
of the European beavers, corresponded with those of ours, and that
necessity, resulting from the population of the country by civilized
man, compelled them to resort to a different mode of life, to escape
the certain destruction, with which the great demand for their fur
threatened them. But as the European beaver is smaller than ours, other
naturalists have regarded it as a distinct species. In those districts
of country of North America, from which they have not yet been
exterminated, and which are populated by the whites, as particularly on
the Mississippi, above the Ohio, and below St. Louis, we have not heard
that they build, but it is more than probable, that, as in Europe,
they change their mode of life, in order to be the more effectually
concealed from view. From subsequent observation, we have learned, that
the beaver does not attempt to dam large streams, perceiving at once
the impracticability of the undertaking: his object in damming a stream
appears to be, to preserve a constancy in the height of the water, in
order that the entrance to his habitation in the bank may be concealed,
and that the curious conical edifice may not be destroyed by a sudden
flood, or too much exposed by a deficiency of water.

An Indian informed us, that in his time, he has caught three specimens
of this animal, that had each a large white spot on the breast.
Singular accounts of this animal are given us by the hunters, but which
we had no opportunity of verifying.

Three beavers were seen cutting down a large cotton-wood tree; when
they had made considerable progress, one of them retired to a short
distance, and took his station in the water, looking steadfastly at
the top of the tree. As soon as he perceived the top begin to move
towards its fall, he gave notice of the danger to his companions, who
were still at work, gnawing at its base, by slapping his tail upon the
surface of the water, and they immediately ran from the tree out of
harm's way.

The spring beaver are much better for commerce than those of the autumn
and early winter, as the fur is longer and more dense. But the beaver
taken in the vicinity of the Rocky Mountains is almost equally good
during the year.

Mr. Frazer, a gentleman who has been several years engaged in the fur
trade, in the interior of North America, on the Columbia, and in North
California, in speaking of the beaver, mentioned a circumstance, which
we do not remember to have seen recorded. The lodges are usually so
placed, that the animals ascend the stream some distance to arrive at
the spot whence they procure their food. They make their excursions
under water, and they have, at equal distances, excavations under
the bank, called _washes_, into which they go and raise their heads
above the surface, in order to breathe, without exposing themselves
to be seen. In winter the position of these washes is ascertained, by
the hollow sound the ground returns when beaten; and the beavers are
sometimes taken, by being pursued into these holes, the entrances to
which are afterwards closed.

Otters are frequent on the Missouri. We had an opportunity of seeing on
the ice of Boyer Creek a considerable number of the tracks or paths of
otters; they were the more readily distinguishable, from there being
snow of but little depth on the ice, and they appeared as if the animal
was accustomed to slide in his movements on the ice, as there were, in
the first place, the impressions of two feet, then a long mark clear of
snow a distance of three or four feet, then the impressions of the feet
of the animal, after which the sliding mark, and so on alternately.
These paths were numerous, and passed between the bank and a situation,
where a hole had been in the ice, now frozen over.—JAMES.

From the limited information communicated to the public, on the subject
of Mr. Hunt's Expedition to the mouth of the Columbia, commenced in
the year 1811, it appears that a part of the men engaged in that
undertaking, in their return from the Pacific, crossed the Rocky
Mountains from some one of the upper branches of Lewis' river, and
falling upon the sources of the north fork of the Platte, descended
thence to the Missouri.

{152} On the 28th of June, 1812, Mr. Robert Stewart, one of the
partners of the Pacific Fur Company, with two Frenchmen, M'Clellan, and
Crooks, left the Pacific ocean with despatches for New York.

Having proceeded about seven hundred miles, they met Mr. Joseph Miller,
on his way to the mouth of the Columbia. He had been considerably to
the south and east, and had fallen in with the Black-arms, and the
Arrapahoes, who wander about the sources of the Arkansa. By the latter
of these he had been robbed, in consequence of which he was now reduced
to starvation and nakedness.

Mr. Stewart and his companions had fifteen horses, but soon afterwards
met with a band of the Crow Indians, near the Rocky Mountains, who
behaved with the most unbounded insolence, and finally stole every
horse belonging to the party.

They now found themselves on foot, with the Rocky Mountains, and a
journey of two thousand miles before them; fifteen hundred of which was
through a country wholly unknown, as their route lay considerably to
the south of that of Lewis and Clarke.

Putting the best face upon their prospects, they pursued their journey
towards the Rocky Mountains, travelling east-south-east, until they
struck the "head waters of the great river Platte," which they followed
to its mouth, having spent the winter upon it, six hundred miles from
the Missouri.[104]

[104] The narrative from which this sketch is taken, was published in
the Missouri Gazette.—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ The article in the _Missouri Gazette_ is reprinted in
Bradbury's _Travels_, volume v of our series, Appendix III, p. 224.
An account of Hunt's expedition and sketches of the partners of the
Pacific Fur Company, mentioned in the text, will be found in the same
volume, notes 2, 3, 72, 119.

The confluence of the north fork and the Platte is, according to our
estimate of distances, one hundred and forty-nine miles by our courses,
from the Pawnee Loup village.

Some of the upper branches of the Wolf river head about thirty miles to
the north of this point.

After fording the north fork, we crossed a narrow point of low prairie
to the Platte, where, as it was {153} now near night, we resolved to
encamp, and attempt the passage of the river on the following day.[105]

[105] The town of North Platte is now situated on this tongue of land
between the forks of the Platte; and recently a family named Peale,
relatives of T. R. Peale of Long's party, were among the residents.—ED.

Our view of the opposite margin of the Platte, during this day's march,
had been intercepted by an elevated swell of the surface, which
extended along, parallel to the river, that we were now approaching.
Immediately upon surmounting this undulation we saw before us, upon
the broad expanse of the left margin of the river, immense herds of
bisons, grazing in undisturbed possession, and obscuring, with the
density of their numbers, the verdant plain; to the right and left,
as far as the eye was permitted to rove, the crowd seemed hardly to
diminish, and it would be no exaggeration to say, that at least ten
thousand here burst on our sight in the instant. Small columns of dust
were occasionally wafted by the wind from bulls that were pawing the
earth, and rolling; the interest of action was also communicated to the
scene, by the unwieldy playfulness of some individuals, that the eye
would occasionally rest upon, their real or affected combats, or by the
slow or rapid progress of others to and from their watering places. On
the distant bluffs, individuals were constantly disappearing, whilst
others were presenting themselves to our view, until, as the dusk of
the evening increased, their massive forms, thus elevated above the
line of other objects, were but dimly defined on the skies. We retired
to our evening fare, highly gratified with the novel spectacle we had
witnessed, and with the most sanguine expectations of the future.

In the morning we again sought the living picture, but upon all the
plain which last evening was so teeming with noble animals, not one
remained. We forded the Platte with less delay and difficulty than we
had encountered in crossing the north fork.

It is about nine hundred yards wide, and very rapid, but so shoal that
we found it unnecessary to dismount from our horses, or to unpack the
mules. {154} We found the plains on the south side of the Platte more
closely depastured than those we had before seen. The grass is fine and
short, forming a dense and matted turf, as in the oldest pastures.

Meeting with wood at about three o'clock P. M., we resolved to encamp.
On the two preceding evenings, we had found it difficult to collect as
much wood as sufficed to kindle a fire, which was afterwards kept up
with the dung of the bison, though not without some difficulty, as the
weather was rainy.

The dung of the bison is used as fuel in many parts of the woodless
country southwest of the Missouri, by the Indians, and by hunters, who
often encamp where no wood is to be found. We learn from Sonnini[106]
and others, that the excrement of the camel, mixed with chopped straw
and afterwards dried, is similarly used in the woodless parts of Egypt.

[106] Charles Nicholas Sigisbert Sonnini de Manoncourt was a French
naturalist and traveller, who visited Egypt, Greece, and Asia Minor
during the years 1777-80. He lost his fortune by the Revolution, and
spent the remainder of his life in writing and editing scientific
works. The book here referred to is _Voyage dans la haute et dans le
basse Egypt_ (Paris, 3 vols., 1799). It was twice translated into

The hills on the south side of the Platte, above the confluence of the
north fork, become more abrupt and elevated, approaching in character
those of the Missouri which are destitute of stone. There is here the
same transcript of Alpine scenery, in miniature, which constitutes so
striking a feature in the Missouri landscape, when viewed from the
river bottom.

We had no sooner crossed the Platte, than our attention was arrested by
the beautiful white primrose (œnothera pinnatifida, N.) with its long
and slender corolla reclining upon the grass. The flower, which is near
two inches long, constitutes about one-half of the entire length of
the plant.[107]

[107] Considerable additions were made, about the forks of the Platte,
to our collections of plants. We found here, among others, the
Pentstemon cristatum, N. Coronopus dydima, Ph. Evolvulus Nuttallianus,
Roemer, and Shultz. Orobus dispar, Cleome tryphilla, Petalostemon
candidum, Ph., and P. violaceum. Aristida pallens, N. two species of a
genus approximating to Hoitzia, several species of Astragalus, and many

The valley of the Platte, above the forks, is much narrower, and a
little more irregular in direction than below, and is frequently
interrupted by small hills running in towards the river. On ascending
these hills, we found them of a coarse sand, and containing more gravel
and small pebbles than below. Among the gravel stones, small fragments
of flesh-coloured {155} felspar are distinguished. About the summits of
the hills we saw some detached pieces of fine carnelion, with agates
and calcedony.

We had often examined, with some anxiety, the turbid waters of the
Platte, hoping thereby to gain information respecting the predominating
rock formations of the mountainous district, from which that river

It had been a received opinion among some of the geologists of the
United States, that the Rocky Mountains were not of primitive rocks; we
had hitherto observed nothing which could either confirm or invalidate
this opinion.

The great alluvial formation, which occupies the country on both
sides of the lower portion of the river Platte, is an almost unmixed
siliceous sand, in no manner distinguishable from the _débris_ of the
sandstones of transition mountains. Near the forks of the Platte, we
first observed that the waters of that river bring down, among other
matters, numerous small scales of mica. This also is a constituent of
the sandstones of the lower secondary or transition formations. The
fragments of unmixed and crystalline felspar, which now began to be of
frequent occurrence, were considered as the first convincing evidence
of the primitive character of the Rocky Mountains. These fragments
of felspar, we believed, could have been derived from no other than
primitive rocks.

During all the day on the 23d we travelled along the south side of the
Platte, our course inclining something more towards the south-west than

Intermixed in the narrow fringe of timber, which marks the course of
the river, are very numerous trees, killed by the action of the beaver
or by the effects of old age; their decorticated and bleached trunks
and limbs strongly contrasting with the surrounding objects, many of
them rendered doubly {156} interesting by affording a support to the
nests of the bald eagle, elevated like a beacon in the horizon of the

Large herds of bisons were seen in every direction; but as we had
already killed a deer, and were supplied with meat enough for the
day, none of the party were allowed to go in pursuit of them. Prickly
pears became more and more abundant as we ascended the river; and here
they occurred in such extensive patches as considerably to retard our
progress, it being wholly impracticable to urge our horses across them.
The cactus ferox is the most common, and, indeed, the only species
which is of frequent occurrence. It has been stated by a traveller
to the Upper Missouri,[108] that the antelope, which inhabits the
extensive plains of that river and its tributaries, finds means to
make this plant, notwithstanding its terrific armature of thorns,
subservient to its necessities, "by cutting it up with his hoofs."
We were able to discover no confirmation of this statement; it may,
however, be applicable to some plains more arid and sterile than any we
have passed, where the antelopes may be driven by necessity to the use
of this hard expedient.

[108] Nuttall's Genera of North American Plants, vol. i. p. 296.—JAMES.

On the following day we saw immense herds of bisons, blackening the
whole surface of the country through which we passed. At this time they
were in their summer coat. From the shoulders backwards, all the hinder
parts of the animal are covered with a growth of very short and fine
hair, as smooth and soft to the touch as a piece of velvet. The tail is
very short, and tufted at the end, and its services, as a fly-brush,
are confined to a very limited surface.

The fore parts of the body are covered with long shaggy hair,
descending in a tuft behind the knee, in a distinct beard beneath the
lower jaw, rising in a dense mass on the top of his head as high as
the tip of the horns, matted and curled on his front so {157} thickly
as to deaden the force of the rifle-ball, which rebounds from the
forehead, or lodges in the hair, causing the animal only to shake his
head as he bounds heavily onward. The head is so large and ponderous,
in proportion to the size of the body, that the supporting muscles,
which greatly enlarge the neck, form over the shoulders, where they are
imbedded on each side of elongated vertebral processes, distinguished
by the name of hump ribs, a very considerable elevation called the
hump, which is of an oblong form, diminishing in height as it recedes,
so as to give considerable obliquity to the line of the back. The
eye is small, black, and piercing; the horns, which are black, and
remarkably robust at base, curve outward and upward, tapering rapidly
to the tip. The profile of the face is somewhat convexly curved;
and the superior lip, on each side, papillous within, is dilated and
extended downward, so as to give a very oblique appearance to the
lateral rictus, or gape of the mouth, considerably resembling in this
respect the ancient architectural bas-reliefs representing the heads of
the ox. The physiognomy is menacing and ferocious, and the whole aspect
of the animal is sufficiently formidable to influence the spectator
who is, for the first time, placed near him in his native wilds, with
certain feelings which indicate the propriety of immediate attention to
personal safety.

The bison cow bears the same relation, as to appearance, to the bull,
that the domestic cow does to her mate; she is smaller, with much less
hair on the anterior part of her body, and though she has a conspicuous
beard, yet this appendage is comparatively short; her horns also are
much less robust, and not partially concealed by hair.

The dun colour prevails on the coat of the bison; but the long hair
of the anterior part of the body, with the exception of the head, is
more or less tinged with yellowish or rust colour. The uniformity of
{158} colour, however, amongst these animals is so steadfast, that any
considerable deviation from the ordinary standard is regarded by the
natives as effected under the immediate influence of the Divinity.

A trader of the Missouri informed us that he had seen a grayish-white
bison, and that another, a yearling calf, was distinguished by several
white spots on the side, and by a white frontal mark and white fore

Mr. J. Dougherty saw in an Indian hut a bison head, very well prepared,
which had a white star on the front; the owner valued it highly,
calling it his great medicine; he could not be tempted to part with it;
"for," said he, "the herds come every season into the vicinity to seek
their white-faced companion."

They are the skins of the cows almost exclusively that are used in
commerce; those of the bulls being so large, heavy, and difficult to
prepare, that this is comparatively seldom attempted.

That the bison formerly ranged over the Atlantic states there can
be no doubt; and Lawson informs us that even in his time some were
killed in Virginia; and Cumming, in his Sketches of a Tour to the
Western Country, informs us that, "long after the country (Kentucky)
began to be generally settled, and ceased to be a hunting ground by
the Indians," the "buffaloes, bears, and deer, were so plenty in the
country that little or no bread was used," and "the facility of gaining
them prevented the progress of agriculture, until the poor innocent
buffaloes were completely extirpated, and the other wild animals much
thinned."[109] This process of extirpation has not since been relaxed,
and the bison is now driven beyond the lakes, the Illinois, and
southern portion of the Mississippi rivers, their range extending from
the country west of Hudson's bay to the northern provinces of Mexico.
They have not yet crossed the entire breadth of the mountains at the
{159} head of the Missouri, though they penetrate, in some parts, far
within that range, to the most accessible fertile valleys, particularly
the valley of Lewis' river. It was there that Mr. Henry and his party
of hunters wintered, and subsisted chiefly upon the flesh of these
animals, which they saw in considerable herds; but the Indians affirmed
that it was unusual for the bisons to visit that neighbourhood.[110]

[109] John Lawson, a Scotchman, came to North Carolina about 1700, as
surveyor-general; he was killed by the Indians in 1712. His book, _A
New Voyage to Carolina_, etc., originally published at London in 1709,
ran through several editions, and was reprinted at Raleigh in 1860. "He
[the bison] seldom appears amongst the _English_ Inhabitants ... yet
I have known some kill'd on the Hilly Part of _Cape-Fair_-River, they
passing the Ledges of vast Mountains ... before they can come near us."
[In margin.] "_Two killed one year in_ Virginia _at_ Appamaticks." (See
edition of 1714, in Stevens's _Collection of Voyages_, p. 115.)

Cuming's _Tour_ is reprinted as volume iv of our series. See p. 177 for
passage quoted.—ED.

[110] Andrew Henry was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, between
1773 and 1778, and died in Washington County, Missouri, in 1832. He
was one of the original incorporators of the Missouri Fur Company in
1809 and the next year built the first post established by an American
trader beyond the crest of the Rockies; this was Fort Henry, on Snake
River, probably near the present village of Egin, Fremont County,
Idaho. It was abandoned the succeeding spring, but furnished shelter
for a few days to the party under Hunt, bound overland to Astoria. (See
Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v, note 2). Little is known of
Henry from 1811 to 1822; at the latter date he entered into partnership
with General W. H. Ashley (congressman from Missouri, 1831-37), and for
a time prospered in the fur-trade, but lost his fortune by becoming a
surety for others.

Lewis River was the name given by Lewis and Clark to Salmon and Snake
rivers. Fort Henry was not far from the headwaters of the former.—ED.

All the mountains which we ascended were more or less strewed with the
dung of these animals about the lower parts; a conclusive evidence that
this portion of the range had been traversed by the bisons.

The cows remain fat from July to the latter part of December. The
rutting season occurs towards the latter part of July, and continues
until the beginning of September, after which month the cows separate
from the bulls, in distinct herds, and bring forth their calves in
April. The calves seldom separate themselves from the mother under the
age of one year; and cows are often seen accompanied by the calves of
three seasons.

The meat of the bison has often been compared with that of the domestic
ox, and the preference yielded to the latter, as an article of food.
This decision, however, we cannot, from our experience confirm; it
appeared to us that although of a somewhat coarser fibre, yet, after
making due allowance for the situation in which we were placed, our
appetites often increased by hunger and privation, that the flesh of
the bison is in no degree inferior in delicacy and sweetness to that
of the common ox. But that the flesh of those which we were accustomed
to eat was more agreeably sapid than that which formed a subject of
comparison to the authors alluded to, is altogether possible, as the
grass upon which they usually fed was short, firm, and nutritious,
considerably differing in its nature from the luxuriant and less solid
grass nourished by a fertile soil. It was {160} preferred by the party
to the flesh of the elk or deer, which was thrown away when it could be
substituted by the bison meat.

To the fat of the bison we conceded a decided superiority over that of
the common ox, as being richer and sweeter to the taste.

As our stock of provision was nearly exhausted, permission was given,
when we had arrived near a suitable place for our mid-day halt, to
the hunters to go out in pursuit of bisons, and in a short time two
were killed. The choice parts of these were taken and placed upon
pack-horses, to be carried forward to our next encampment, where some
of it might be _jerked_ on the ensuing day, which was Sunday.

Aside from the vast herds of bisons which it contains, the country
along the Platte is enlivened by great numbers of deer, badgers,[111]
hares,[112] prairie wolves, eagles, buzzards,[113] ravens, and owls:
these, with its rare and interesting plants, in some measure relieved
the uniformity of its cheerless scenery. We found a constant source of
amusement in observing the unsightly figure, the cumbrous gait, and
impolitic movements of the bison; we were often delighted by the beauty
and fleetness of the antelope, and the social comfort and neatness of
the prairie dog.

[111] Meles labradoricus.—JAMES.

[112] Lepus variabilis? possibly it may prove to be L. glacialis of

[113] Vultur aura.—JAMES.

This barren and ungenial district appeared, at this time, to be filled
with greater numbers of animals than its meagre productions are
sufficient to support. It was, however, manifest that the bisons, then
thronging in such numbers, were moving towards the south. Experience
may have taught them to repair at certain seasons to the more luxuriant
plains of Arkansa and Red river. What should ever prompt them to return
to the inhospitable deserts of the Platte, it is not perhaps, easy to
conjecture. In whatever {161} direction they move, their parasites and
dependants fail not to follow. Large herds are invariably attended by
gangs of meagre, famine-pinched wolves, and flights of obscene and
ravenous birds.

We have frequently remarked broad shallow excavations in the soil, of
the diameter of from five to eight feet, and greatest depth from six
inches to eighteen. These are of rare occurrence near the Missouri,
as far as Engineer cantonment, and in other districts where the bison
is seldom seen at the present day; and when they do exist there, they
are overgrown by grass and nearly obliterated. As you approach the
country, still the constant residence of these animals, the excavations
become more numerous, and are less productive of grass. They now are
so numerous as to be of constant recurrence, offering a considerable
impediment to the traveller, who winds his way amongst them, and are
entirely destitute of grass, their surface being covered with a deep
dust. Until recently, we had no opportunity to observe the cause which
gives rise to these appearances; but we were now convinced that they
were the result of the habit which the bulls have, in common with the
domestic bull, of scraping up the earth with their fore feet, in the
process of dusting themselves: they serve also as places for rolling
and wallowing; a gratification which the bison bull indulges in as
frequently, and in the same manner as the horse.

Some extensive tracts of land along the Platte, particularly those
portions which are a little elevated, with an undulating or broken
surface, are almost exclusively occupied by a scattered growth of
several species of wormwood, (artemisia) some of which are common
to this country, and that on the lower Missouri: we may enumerate
the following—A. ludoviciana, A. longifolia, A. serrata, A.
columbiensis,[114] {162} A. cernua, A. canadensis; most of these
species have simple or finely divided compound leaves, which are long
and slender, and canescent, like those of the A. absynthium, the common
wormwood of the gardens. The peculiar aromatic scent, and the flavor
of this well known plant, is recognized in all the species we have
mentioned. Several of them are eaten by the bisons, and our horses were
sometimes reduced to the necessity of feeding upon them.

[114] A. columbiensis. This is said to be the plant known to the party
of Lewis and Clarke, by the name of "wild sage." It occurs abundantly
in the barren plains of the Columbia river; where it furnishes the
sole article of fuel or of shelter to the Indians who wander in those
woodless deserts. See Nuttall's Genera, vol. ii. p. 142.—JAMES.

The intense reflection of light and heat from the surface of many
tracts of naked sand, which we crossed, added much to the fatigue
and suffering of our journey. We often met with extensive districts
covered entirely with loose and fine sand blown from the adjacent
hills. In the low plains along the river, where the soil is permanent,
it is highly impregnated with saline substances, and too sterile to
produce any thing except a few stinted carices and rushes.

On the evening of the twenty-fourth, after we had encamped, several
bull bisons, being on the windward side, came so near us as to create
a disturbance among our horses, who were not yet so familiarized to
the formidable appearance of those animals, as to regard their near
approach with indifference. The bulls at length became troublesome,
approaching so near to smell at the horses, that some of the latter
broke the cords by which they were fastened, and made their escape.
A man was then sent to frighten away the bisons, who, in their turn,
exhibited as much terror as they had occasioned to our horses.

On Sunday, the twenty-fifth, we remained encamped, and some of the men
were employed in drying a part of the meat killed on the preceding day.
{163} This was done that we might be able to carry constantly with us
a small supply of provisions, in reserve against any occasion when we
might not meet with game.

The magnetic variation equated from two sets of observations, was found
to be 14° east. Observations for longitude were made; it was also
attempted to take the meridian altitude of Antares for ascertaining the
latitude, but the observation was commenced a few minutes too late, we
having been longer occupied in making the preceding observations than
we had anticipated.[115]

[115] There is a considerable error in the longitude of points in
western Nebraska and Colorado as given on the map of the expedition.
For example, the longitude of the town of North Platte, at the
confluence of the forks of the Platte, is 100° 45' 53"; while on the
accompanying map the one hundred and second meridian runs but little
west of the spot. For this reason, and because of the few landmarks
described, the location of the camps of the expedition can only be
approximated; but that of June 26 must have been quite near the
Nebraska-Colorado boundary. The South Platte leaves Colorado almost
exactly at the northeastern corner of the state.—ED.

26th. The weather had now been for some days fair. As we approached the
mountains, we felt or fancied, a very manifest change in the character
of the weather, and the temperature of the air. Mornings and evenings
were usually calm, and the heat more oppressive than in the middle of
the day. Early in the forenoon, a light and refreshing breeze often
sprung up, blowing from the west or south-west, which again subsided
on the approach of night. This phenomenon was so often observed that
we were induced to attribute it to the operation of the same local
cause, which in the neighbourhood of the sea, produces a diurnal
change in the winds, which blow alternately to and from the shore. The
Rocky Mountains may be considered as forming the shore of that sea of
sand, which is traversed by the Platte, and extends northward to the
Missouri, above the great bend.

The rarefaction of the air over this great plain, by the reverberation
of the sun's rays during the day, causes an ascending current, which is
supplied by the rushing down of the condensed air from the mountains.
Though the sun's rays in the middle of the day were scorching and
extremely afflictive to our eyes, the temperature of the air, as
indicated by the thermometer, had hitherto rarely exceeded 80° Fah.

{164} In the forenoon we passed a range of hills more elevated than
any we had seen west of the Missouri. These hills cross the Platte
from north to south, and though inconsiderable in magnitude, they can
be distinguished extending several miles on each side of the river.
They consist principally of gravel, intermixed with small water-worn
fragments of granite and other primitive rocks, but are based on a
stratum of coarse friable sand-stone, of a dark gray colour, which has
been uncovered, and cut through by the bed of the Platte.

This range may perhaps be a continuation or spur from the black hills
mentioned by Lewis and Clarke, as containing the sources of the
Shienne, and other tributaries to the Missouri, at no great distance to
the north of the place where we now were.[116]

[116] The name "Black Hills," which is now associated with the
mountains of southwestern South Dakota, has also been applied somewhat
indefinitely to hills in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado. Lewis and
Clark's map places hills so named along the eastern side of the North
Platte, running well into Nebraska. The name is sometimes given
to the hills enclosed by the circular course of the North Platte,
in southeastern Wyoming; while Frémont (1842) applies it to the
hills through which Cache la Poudre River cuts its way to the South

At evening we arrived at another scattering grove of cotton-wood trees,
among which we placed our camp, immediately on the brink of the river.
The trees of which these insulated groves are usually composed, from
their low and branching figure, and their remoteness from each other,
as they stand scattered over the soil they occupy, revived strongly
in our minds the appearance and gratifications resulting from an
apple orchard; for which from a little distance they might readily be
mistaken, if seen in a cultivated region. At a few rods distant on our
right hand, was a fortified Indian camp, which appeared to have been
recently occupied. It was constructed of such broken half-decayed logs
of wood as the place afforded, intermixed with some skeletons of bisons
recently killed. It is of a circular form, enclosing space enough for
about thirty men to lie down upon. The wall is about five feet high,
with an opening towards the east, and the top uncovered.

At a little distance in front of the entrance of this breastwork, was
a semicircular row of sixteen bison skulls, with their noses pointing
down the river. Near the centre of the circle which this row would
{165} describe, if continued, was another skull marked with a number of
red lines.

Our interpreter informed us that this arrangement of skulls and other
marks here discovered, were designed to communicate the following
information, namely, that the camp had been occupied by a war party
of the Skeeree or Pawnee Loup Indians, who had lately come from an
excursion against the Cumancias, Ietans, or some of the western tribes.
The number of red lines traced on the painted skull indicated the
number of the party to have been thirty-six; the position in which
the skulls were placed, that they were on their return to their own
country. Two small rods stuck in the ground, with a few hairs tied in
two parcels to the end of each, signified that four scalps had been

A record of facts, which may be important and interesting to others, is
thus left for the benefit of all who may follow. For our part we were
glad to be informed, that one lawless and predatory band of savages
had lately left the country we were about to traverse. We were never
without some anxiety on the subject of Indian war-parties; who are
known frequently to remunerate themselves for any discomfiture or loss
they may have sustained, by making free booty of the property and the
scalps of the first weak or unguarded party they may meet.

At a late hour in the night, after our camp had become quiet, we were
suddenly awakened by a loud rushing noise, which in a moment seemed to
reach the centre of our encampment; immediately a piercing exclamation
of terror was heard from one of our interpreters, which, from the
peculiarity of its tone, seemed to have escaped from a throat under
the grasp of death. It became immediately apparent that the cause of
the alarm proceeded from our horses, all of whom had broken loose from
their stakes, near the Indian fort, and had run in a state of fright
through our camp, with the apparent desire to gain our protection {166}
against something in their rear. We proceeded in a cautious manner to
reconnoitre the environs of the camp, stooping low, in order that the
eye might be directed along the level of the top of the grass, which
was here of a very luxuriant growth, in order to detect in the gloom,
any inimical object that might rise above it; having thus convinced
ourselves that nothing dangerous to our safety remained very near to
us, the horses were again secured, and we betook ourselves to our beds,
with the reflection, that they had probably been alarmed by the too
near approach of bisons.

We had scarce fallen asleep, when we were aroused the second time, by
the discharge of a gun close to our tent. This was the signal which
we had all understood was to be given by the sentinel, in case of
the hostile approach of Indians to the camp. We therefore bestirred
ourselves, being well assured we had other business at hand, than the
securing of horses. Several of the party went to reconnoitre the old
fort above mentioned, but nothing was discovered and they returned.

After all were assembled at camp, Major Long informed us the alarm had
been given by his order, and was intended to test the coolness and
self-possession of the party, and to prepare us in some measure for an
unpleasant occurrence, we all thought too likely to happen, which was
no other than a serious attack from the Indians, to be made according
to their custom at that highly unseasonable hour of the morning.

Since leaving the Missouri, we had never indulged a disposition to
sluggishness, accustoming ourselves to rise every morning long before
the sun; but we still found we left that small spot of earth, on which
we had rested our limbs, and which had become warm and dry by the heat
of our bodies, with as much reluctance as we have felt at quitting
softer beds.

{167} The mode of rallying now prescribed was the following;
immediately after an alarm should be given, the party should seize
their arms, and form in front of the tents, in the rear of the line
of packs, and await any orders that might be given. The sentinel
giving the alarm should proceed to the tent of the officers, in order
to acquaint them with the cause. Major Long and Captain Bell should
reconnoitre about the encampment, and if practicable ascertain the
real occasion of the alarm. Farther movements to be regulated as the
emergency might require.

This alarm was the occasion of our starting on the morning of the
26th at an earlier hour than usual. We rode on through the same
uninteresting and dreary country as before, but were constantly amused
at observing the motions of the countless thousands of bisons, by which
we were all the time surrounded. The wind happening to blow fresh
from the south, the scent of our party was borne directly across the
Platte, and we could distinctly note every step of its progress through
a distance of eight or ten miles, by the consternation and terror it
excited among the buffaloes. The moment the tainted gale infected their
atmosphere, they ran with as much violence as if pursued by a party of
mounted hunters, and instead of running from the danger, turned their
heads towards the wind; eager to escape from the terrifying scent, they
pushed forward in an oblique direction towards our party, and plunging
into the river they swam and waded, and ran with the utmost violence,
in several instances breaking through our line of march, which was
immediately along the left bank of the Platte.

It is remarked by hunters, and appears to be an established fact,
that the odour of a white man is more terrifying to wild animals,
particularly the bison, than that of an Indian. This animal, in the
course of its periodic migrations, comes into the immediate {168}
neighbourhood of the permanent Indian villages, on the Missouri and
the Platte. One was seen by our hunters within six miles of the Grand
Pawnee village, and immediately about the towns we saw many heads
and skeletons of such as had been killed there the preceding spring.
They had come in while the Pawnees were absent on their winter's
hunt, and at their return, we were informed, they found the bisons
immediately about their villages. They disappeared invariably from the
neighbourhood of the white settlements within a few years. We are aware
that another cause may be found for this than the frightful scent of
the white man, which is, the impolitic exterminating war which he wages
against all unsubdued animals within his reach.

It would be highly desirable that some law for the preservation of game
might be extended to, and rigidly enforced in the country where the
bison is still met with; that the wanton destruction of these valuable
animals, by the white hunters, might be checked or prevented. It is
common for hunters to attack large herds of these animals, and having
slaughtered as many as they are able, from mere wantonness and love
of this barbarous sport, to leave the carcasses to be devoured by the
wolves and birds of prey; thousands are slaughtered yearly, of which no
part is saved except the tongues. This inconsiderate and cruel practice
is undoubtedly the principal reason why the bison flies so far and so
soon from the neighbourhood of our frontier settlements.

It is well known to those in the least degree conversant with the
Indians, that the odour which their bodies exhale, though very strong
and peculiar, is by no means unpleasant,[117] at least to most persons.
A negro in the employment of the Missouri Fur Company, and living at
Fort Lisa, was often heard to complain of the intolerable scent of
the squaws; in like manner, the Indians find the odour of a white man
extremely offensive. In the language of the {169} Peruvian Indians, are
three words to express their idea of the smell of the European, the
aboriginal American, and the negro. They call the first _Pezuna_, the
second _Posco_, and the third _Grajo_.[118]

[117] We may add on this subject the testimony of Lawson, the early
historian of North Carolina. After describing the huts of the native
inhabitants, he adds, "These dwellings are as hot as stoves, where the
Indians sleep and sweat all night; yet I never felt any ill unsavory
smell in their cabins, whereas should we live in our houses as they
do, we should be poisoned with our own nastiness; which confirms the
Indians to be, as they really are, some of the sweetest people in the
world." New Voyage to Carolina, p. 177. London, 4to. 1709.—JAMES.

[118] See Humboldt's New Spain, vol. i. p. 184.—JAMES.

After passing the range of hills above mentioned, the surface subsides
nearly to a plain, having, however, manifestly a greater inclination
than below. The velocity of the current of the river is much increased,
the bed narrower, and the banks more precipitous. We passed several
extensive tracts nearly destitute of vegetation. The surface of these
consisted entirely of coarse sand and gravel, with here and there an
insulated mass of clay, highly impregnated with salt, and gnawed and
licked into various singular shapes, exhibiting the forms of massive
insulated columns, huge buttresses, prominent angles, and profound
excavations, fortuitously mingled, and which are now gradually
diminishing, under the action of the cause which produced them. The
present surface upon which they repose, seems to be a stratum of a
different earth, which does not afford the condiment so attractive
to the animals; the consequence is, that the licking and chewing,
principally, heretofore, affecting the surface on which the animal
stood, is now directed against the upright portions of this singular
grand excavation, and most remarkable of all known salt-licks.

Some extensive portions of the immediate bottom land, along the river,
were white with an effloresced salt, but this being impure and but
imperfectly soluble, did not appear to have been licked.

Towards evening we passed two springs of transparent, but impure and
brackish water. They were the first we had met with on the Platte.[119]
Among a considerable number of undescribed plants collected on the
27th, are three referable to the family of the rough-leaved plants
(asperifoliæ), one of them belonging {170} to a genus not heretofore
known in the United States. It has a salver-form corolla, with a large
spreading angular, plaited border. Another plant very conspicuously
ornamental to these barren deserts, is a lactescent annual,
belonging to the family of the convolvulacæ, with a bright purple
corolla, as large as that of the common stramonium. We also observed
the white-stalked primrose, (œnothera albicaulis, N.) a very small
white-flowered species of talinum, and some others. We observed, in
repeated instances, several individuals of a singular genus of reptiles
(chirotes, Cuv.) which in form resemble short serpents, but are more
closely allied to the lizards, by being furnished with two feet.
They were so active, that it was not without some difficulty that we
succeeded in obtaining a specimen. Of this (as was our uniform custom,
when any apparently new animal was presented) we immediately drew out
a description. But as the specimen was unfortunately lost, and the
description formed part of the zoological notes and observations, which
were carried off by our deserters, we are reduced to the necessity of
merely indicating the probability of the existence of the chirotes
lumbricoides of naturalists, within the territory of the United States.

[119] There are a number of springs in the ravines south of the Platte
between Ogallala, Nebraska, and Julesburg, Colorado. During this day's
march, the party doubtless crossed the Nebraska-Colorado line.—ED.

At night we were again alarmed by a disturbance among our horses,
of which we were not able to ascertain the cause. Some of the party
had, on the preceding day, reported that they had seen Indians at a
distance, that they were on horseback, &c. but of this there could be
no certainty, the imagination often representing a herd of antelopes,
or other animals, seen at a distance, and perhaps distorted by the
looming of the prairie, as so many mounted Indians. We had often found
ourselves more grossly abused by our eye-sight, than is supposed in
this instance, having mistaken turkies for bisons, wolves for horses,

28th. We breakfasted, and left our encampment {171} before five
o'clock. We had not proceeded far when we discovered about thirty
wild horses at a distance before us. They had taken our scent, and
run off in a fright, when we were a mile distant. Their activity and
fleetness surpassed what we had expected from this noble animal in
his savage state. In the course of the day we saw other herds, but
all at a distance. The country south of the Platte contains, as we
are informed, vast numbers of horses. They are of the domesticated
stock introduced by the Spaniards, but they multiply rapidly in their
present state of regained freedom, and are apparently wilder than any
of the native occupants of this country. They are of various colours,
and of all sizes, there being many colts, and some mules, among them.
Their playfulness, rather than their fears, seemed to be excited by our
appearance, and we often saw them, more than a mile distant, leaping
and curvetting, involved by a cloud of dust, which they seemed to
delight in raising.

About some sandy ridges, which we passed in the middle of the day,
several miliary rattle-snakes were seen, two of which were killed.
These had been occasionally met with all along the Platte, but were by
no means numerous. Mr. Peale killed a female antelope, without leaving
our line. The animal had not been able to satisfy its curiosity, and
stood at a little distance gazing at us, until it was shot down.

During the day we passed three small creeks discharging into the Platte
from the north-west. One of these, called by the Indians Bat-so-ah, or
Cherry creek, heads in the Rocky Mountains.[120] On these creeks are a
few small cotton-wood and willow trees. These trees, as well as all
those along the Platte, are low, with very large and branching tops, as
is the case with all trees which grow remote from each other.

[120] Cherry Creek is probably the modern Pawnee Creek, of Logan
County, Colorado. The statement in the text relative to its source is
misleading, as no stream debouching in this vicinity heads so far west;
the heads of the several branches of Cherry Creek are all in eastern
Weld County, many miles from the mountains proper. Frémont camped near
Cherry Creek on July 7, 1843.—ED.

In the afternoon hunters were sent forward, but it was not without some
difficulty that a single bison {172} was killed, those animals having
become much less frequent.[121]

[121] A small fox was killed, which appears to be the animal mentioned
by Lewis and Clarke, in the account of their travels, under the name
of the _burrowing fox_, (vol. ii. p. 351.) It is very much to be
regretted, that although two or three specimens of it were killed
by our party, whilst we were within about two hundred miles of the
mountains, yet from the dominion of peculiar circumstances, we were
unable to preserve a single entire skin; and as the description of
the animal taken on the spot was lost, we shall endeavour to make the
species known to naturalists, with the aid of only a head and a small
portion of the neck of one individual, and a cranium of another, which
are now before us.

In magnitude, the animal is hardly more than half the size of the
American red fox, (_Canis Virginianus_, of the recent authors,) to
which it has a considerable resemblance. But, that it is an adult, and
not the young of that species, the presence of the large carnivorous
tooth, and the two posterior molar teeth of the lower jaw, on each
side, sufficiently attest; these teeth, as well as all the others,
being very much worn down, prove that the milk teeth have been long
since shed.

The teeth, in form, correspond to considerable exactness with those
of our red fox; but the anterior three and four false molares of both
these species are sufficiently distinguished from the corresponding
teeth of the gray, or tri-coloured fox (C. cinereo-argenteus) by being
wider at base, and less elongated perpendicularly, and by having the
posterior basal lobe of each, longer and much more distinctly armed
with a tubercle at tip.

Besides this disparity of dentition in the red and gray foxes, the
general form of the cranium, and its particular detailed characters,
as a less elevated occipital, and temporal crest, more profoundly
sinuous junction of the malar with the maxillary bone, the absence
of elevated lines bounding the space between the insertions of the
lateral muscles, passing in a slightly reclivate direction between the
orbital processes, and the anterior tip of the occipital crest, and
in particular the want of an angular process of the lower jaw beneath
the spinous process in the cranium of the red fox, are sufficiently
obvious characters to indicate even by this portion of the osseous
structure alone, its specific distinctness from the gray fox. In these
differences the osteology of the burrowing fox equally participates,
and although besides these characters in common with the red fox, we
may observe a correspondence in many other respects, yet there are
also many distinctions which the cranium of this small species will
present, when more critically compared with that well known animal,
which unequivocally forbid us from admitting their identity. The
common elevated space on the parietal bones between the insertions
of the lateral muscles is one-fourth wider, and extends further
backward, so as to embrace a notable portion of the anterior angle of
the sagitto-occipital crest; the recipient cavity in the inferior jaw
for the attachment of the masseter muscle is more profound, and the
coronoid process, less elevated than the top of the zygomatic arch, is
more obtusely rounded at tip than that of the red fox.

The dimensions of the cranium, as taken by the calipers:

The entire length from the insertion of the superior incisores to
the tip of the occipital crest, is rather more than four inches
and three-tenths. The least distance between the orbital cavities,
nine-tenths. Between the tips of the orbital processes less than one
inch and one-tenth. Between the insertions of the lateral muscles, at
the junction of the frontal and parietal bones, half an inch. Greatest
breadth of this space on the parietal bones thirteen-twentieths of an

The hair is fine, dense, and soft. The head above is fulvous,
drawing on ferruginous, intermixed with gray, the fur being of the
first-mentioned colour, and the hair whitish at base; then black; then
gray; then brown. The ridge of the nose is somewhat paler, and a more
brownish dilated line passes from the eye to near the nostrils, (as in
the C. corsac). The margin of the upper lip is white; the orbits are
gray; the ears behind are paler than the top of the head, intermixed
with black hairs and the margin, excepting at tip, white; the inner
side is broadly margined with white hairs; the space behind the ear
is destitute of the intermixture of hairs; the neck above has longer
hairs, of which the black and gray portions are more conspicuous;
beneath the head pure white.

The body is slender, and the tail rather long, cylindrical, and black.

It runs with extraordinary swiftness, so much so, that when at full
speed, its course has been by the hunters compared to the flight of a
bird skimming the surface of the earth. We had opportunities of seeing
it run with the antelope; and appearances sanctioned the belief, that
in fleetness it even exceeded that extraordinary animal, famed for
swiftness, and for the singularity of its horns. Like the corsac of
Asia it burrows in the earth, in a country totally destitute of trees
or bushes, and is not known to dwell in forest districts.

If Buffon's figure of the corsac is to be implicitly relied upon, our
burrowing fox must be considered as perfectly distinct, and anonymous;
we would, therefore, propose for it the name of _velox_.—JAMES.

Our small stock of bread was by this time so nearly exhausted, that
it was thought prudent to reserve the remainder as a last resort,
in case of the failure of a supply of game, or other accident. A
quantity of parched maize, equal to a gill per day, to each man, was
daily distributed to each of the three messes into which the party
was divided. This was thrown into the kettle where the bison meat was
boiled, and supplied the place of barley in the soup, always the first
and most important dish. Whenever game was plenty we had a variety
of excellent dishes, consisting of the choice parts of the bison, the
tongue, the hump ribs, the marrow-bones, &c. dressed in various ways.
The hump ribs of the bison, which many epicures prefer to any other
part of the animal, are the spinous processes of the backbone, and
are from eighteen to twenty-four inches in length. They are taken out
with a small portion of the flesh adhering to each side, and whether
roasted, boiled, or stewed, are certainly very far superior to any part
of the flesh of the domestic ox.

29th. We had proceeded but a few miles from our camp when it was found
that Mr. Say's horse was so far exhausted as to be unable to proceed
at the same pace as the other horses. Mr. Say accordingly dismounted,
and by driving his horse before him, urged the animal along for a few
miles; but this being found too laborious, and as several of the horses
were near failing, it was determined to halt, which we did at ten
o'clock, and remained in camp during the day.

The country, for several miles to the west of the range of hills
mentioned above, is as uniformly plain as that on any part of the
Platte. It differs from that further to the east only in being
of a coarser sand, and in an aspect of more unvaried sterility.
The cactus ferox reigns sole monarch, and sole possessor {173} of
thousands of acres of this dreary plain. It forms patches which
neither a horse nor any other animal will attempt to pass over. The
rabbit's foot plantation, and a few brown and withered grasses, are
sparingly scattered over the intervening spaces. In depressed and
moist situations, where the soil is not so entirely unproductive, the
variegated spurge (euphorbia variegata), with its painted involucrum
and party-coloured leaves, is a conspicuous and beautiful ornament.
The lepidium virginicum, distributed over every part of northern and
equinoctial America, from Hudson's Bay to the summit of the Silla of
Caraccas,[122] is here of such diminutive size that we were induced to
search, though we sought in vain, for some character to distinguish it
as a separate species.

[122] See Humb. Pers. Nar. vol. iii. p. 500.—JAMES.

At three o'clock P. M. the planet Venus was distinctly visible. Its
distance from the sun at 3h. 45m. was east 36° 15[']. There were a few
broken cumulostratose clouds from the south-west, otherwise the sky
was clear, and near the zenith, where the star was seen, of a deep and
beautiful azure. Our actual elevation, at this time, must have been
considerable, and might be supposed to effect, in some degree, the
transparency of our atmosphere.

Several magpies were seen about the islands in the river, where it is
probable they rear their young.

On the 30th we left the encampment at our accustomed early hour,
and at eight o'clock were cheered by a distant view of the Rocky
Mountains. For some time we were unable to decide whether what we saw
were mountains, or banks of cumulous clouds skirting the horizon, and
glittering in the reflected rays of the sun. It was only by watching
the bright parts, and observing that their form and position remained
unaltered, that we were able to satisfy ourselves they were indeed
mountains. They were visible from the lowest parts of the plain, and
{174} their summits were, when first discovered, several degrees above
our horizon. They became visible by detaching themselves from the sky
beyond, and not by emerging from beneath the sensible horizon, so
that we might have seen them from a greater distance had it not been
for the want of transparency in the atmosphere. Our first views of
the mountains were indistinct, on account of some smokiness of the
atmosphere, but from our encampment, at noon, we had a very distinct
and satisfactory prospect of them. A small part only of the intervening
plain was visible, the convexity of the surface intercepting the view
from the base of the mountains, and that portion of the plain adjacent
to it.

Snow could be seen on every part of them which was visible above our

The thermometer immersed in the water of the river fell from 80°, the
temperature of the atmosphere, to 75°. Observations had been made
daily to ascertain the temperature of the water of the Platte.[123]
Notwithstanding there were only about five degrees of difference
between the temperature of the air and that of the water, it was
remarked by several of the party, that a sensation of extreme cold was
felt on passing from the one to the other.

[123] The results of several observations are as follows:

  Temperature of the water.     Temperature of the air.
    June 27,     68°                      83°
         28,     70                       79
         29,     74                       82
         30,     75                       80
    July 1,      71                       60

At eleven, A. M.

Before sunrise the mercury fell usually as low as 60°.—JAMES.

It is possible, that at the elevation we had now attained, the
rapidity of evaporation, on account of the diminished pressure of the
atmosphere, might be something greater than we had been accustomed
to. For several days the sky had been clear, and in the morning we
had observed an unusual degree of transparency in every part of the
atmosphere. As the day advanced, and the heat of the sun began to
be felt, such quantities of vapour were seen to ascend from every
part of the plain, that all objects, at a little distance, appeared
magnified, and variously distorted. An undulating or tremulous motion
in ascending lines was manifest over every part of the {175} surface.
Commencing soon after sunrise it continued to increase in quantity
until the afternoon, when it diminished gradually, keeping an even
pace with the intensity of the sun's heat. The density of the vapour
was often such as to produce the perfect image of a pool of water in
every valley upon which we could look down at an angle of about ten
degrees. This effect was several times seen so perfect and beautiful
as to deceive almost every one of our party. A herd of bisons, at the
distance of a mile, seemed to be standing in a pool of water; and what
appeared to us the reflected image was as distinctly seen as the animal
itself. Illusions of this kind are common in the African and Asiatic
deserts, as we learn from travellers, and from the language of poets.
They are called by the Persians _sirraub_, "water of the desert;" and
in the Sanscrit language, _Mriga trichna_, "the desire or thirst of the
antelope." Elphinstone relates,[124] that at Moujgur, in the kingdom of
Caubul, towards evening many persons were astonished at the appearance
of a long lake enclosing several little islands. Notwithstanding the
well known nature of the country, which was a sandy desert, many were
positive that it was a lake, and one of the surveyors took the bearings
of it. "I had imagined," says he, "this phenomenon to be occasioned
by a thin vapour which is spread over the ground in hot weather in
India, but this appearance was entirely different, and on looking
along the ground no vapour whatever could be perceived. The ground was
quite level and smooth, and the weather very hot. It is only found
in level, smooth, and dry places; the position of the sun, and the
degree of heat, are not material, for it was afterwards seen in Damaun,
when the weather was not hotter than in England." On the frontier
of Caubul, Elphinstone saw what he calls a most magnificent mirage,
{176} which looked like an extensive lake, or a very wide river. The
water seemed clear and beautiful, and the figures of two gentlemen,
who rode along it, were _reflected as distinctly as in real water_.
"It is common in our own country," says the London Monthly Review,
"for ground-mists to assume the appearance of water, to make a meadow
seem inundated, and to change a valley into a lake; but these mists
never reflect the surrounding trees and hills. Hence, the _mirage_
must consist of a peculiar gas, of which the particles are combined
by a stronger attraction of cohesion than the vapours of real water;
the _liquor silicum_ of the alchymists is described as exhibiting,
in some circumstances, this glassy surface, yet as being equally
evanescent."[125] It is afterwards suggested, in the same paper, that
the gas which occasioned these extraordinary reflections, may probably
be the substance of the pernicious wind called Simoom. The explanation
here offered will not probably be thought satisfactory. It seems to
belong to the epoch of great and brilliant discoveries in pneumatic
chymistry, when "a peculiar gas" was thought the agent of every

[124] Mission to Caubul, p. 179. 4to. Lond.—JAMES.

_Comment by Ed._ Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859), fourth son of
the eleventh Baron Elphinstone of the Scottish peerage, was a notable
official in the East Indian service, which he entered in 1796. In
1808 he was placed at the head of an embassy sent to Cabul to secure
the alliance of the Afghans against a threatened French invasion.
The work referred to, _An Account of the Kingdom of Cabul and its
Dependencies in Persia and India_ (London, 1815), was one result of
the mission. Elphinstone returned to England about 1830, declining the
governor-generalship of India.

[125] See Monthly Review for May 1817. p. 3.—JAMES.

The images of pools of water, which we saw in the deserts of the
Platte, appeared to us similar to those mentioned by Elphinstone,
likewise to those observed by Nieburgh[126] in Arabia, where inverted
images were seen.

[126] Karsten Niebuhr (1733-1815) was a Danish scientist and traveller,
who visited Egypt, Arabia, India, Palestine, and Syria during the years
1761-67. The first volume of his travels, _Beschreibung von Arabien_
(Copenhagen, 1772), was published by the Danish government; the
second and third volumes appeared in 1774 and 1778, bearing the title
_Reisebeschreibung von Arabien und anderen umliegenden Ländern_; while
a fourth was brought out in 1837, by Niebuhr's daughter.—ED.

To the more common effects of light passing through a medium charged
with vapours, we had become familiar. We had, for many days, seen the
low bluffs of the valley of the Platte suspended over the verge of
our apparent horizon, as distant capes are suspended over the sea;
but in viewing these perfect images of lakes, we could scarce believe
they were occasioned by _refraction_, to which the phenomena of mirage
have usually been attributed.[127] {177} The circumstance that these
pools could only be seen when we looked down at a considerable angle
upon some valley; the perfect manner in which the image of the sky was
returned from the surface, and the inverted position of the objects
seen, induced us to inquire whether the effect might not be produced
by reflection from the lower stratum of watery vapour.[128] These
appearances are sufficient to justify the conclusion that the quantity
of evaporation is much greater here than in less elevated districts
of country, where such things are not seen.

[Illustration: Distant View of the Rocky Mountains]

[127] See Humb. Pers. Nar. vol. ii. p. 196. vol. iii. pp. 358,

[128] Rays of light, falling with any degree of obliquity upon the
particles of that portion of watery vapour which lies near the surface
of the earth, may be reflected, and pass off at an equal corresponding
angle; so that if the eye be raised a few feet above the reflecting
surface, an image of the corresponding arc of the sky is produced, as
in the case of a sheet of water where the image, seen by the reflected
light, is not that of the water, but the sky. Hence any object, which
obstructs the rays of light in their passage from the parts of the
atmosphere beyond the reflecting surface to that surface, is returned
to the eye in a darkened image as from water.—JAMES.

Towards evening the air became more clear, and our view of the
mountains was more satisfactory, though as yet we could only
distinguish their grand outline, imprinted in bold indentations upon
the luminous margin of the sky. We soon remarked a particular part of
the range divided into three conic summits, each apparently of nearly
equal altitude. This we concluded to be the point designated by Pike as
the highest peak. Its bearing was taken a short time before we halted
for the evening, and found to be south, 73° west.[129] As we were about
to encamp, some of the party went in pursuit of a herd of bisons, one
of which they killed, and returned to camp a little before sunset.

[129] The party mistook this "highest peak" for Pike's Peak. This
mountain, called by the French trappers _Les deux Oreilles_ (Two Ears),
is the one now known as Long's Peak, being named for Major S. H. Long,
the leader of our party. Frémont found in 1842 that this name had been
adopted by the traders, and had become familiar in the country. The
elevation of Long's Peak is 14,271 feet, exceeding that of Pike's Peak
by one hundred and twenty-four feet.—ED.

July 1st. Although the temperature indicated by the thermometer for
several days had been about 80°, in the middle of the day, the heat,
owing to the cool breezes from the mountain, had been by no means
oppressive. On the night of the 30th of June, the mercury fell to 55°,
and on the following morning the air was chilly, and a strong breeze
was felt before sunrise, from the south-east. We left our camp at a
very early hour, and travelled over a tract differing in no respect but
its greater barrenness from that passed on the preceding day. We halted
to dine at the distance of sixteen and a half miles. Many acres of this
plain had not vegetation enough to communicate {178} to the surface the
least shade of green; a few dwarfish sunflowers and grasses, which had
grown here in the early part of the summer, being now entirely withered
and brown. In stagnant pools near the river, we saw the common arrow
head, (sagittaria sagittifolia,) the alisma plantago, and the small
lemna growing together, as in similar situations in the eastern states.

A striking feature of that part of the plain country, we were now
passing, is formed by innumerable ant-heaps, rising from twelve to
eighteen inches above the common level of the surface. They occur with
some uniformity, at intervals of about twenty feet, and are all similar
in size and dimensions. They consist so entirely of small grains of
flesh-coloured felspar, that they have, all of them, an uniform reddish
aspect, and it is not without careful examination, that any other kind
of gravel can be detected in them. The entrance to the interior of each
of these little mounds is uniformly on the eastward side, and very
rarely occurs beyond the boundaries of N. E. and S. E. It is never at
the top, nor on a level with the surface of the soil, but is a little
elevated above it. It seems highly probable, that the active little
architects thus place the entrance of their edifice on the eastward
side, in order to escape the direct influence of the cold mountain

At three o'clock, as we were about to resume our journey, there came
on a gentle shower of rain, with wind at east, and low broken clouds.
In the afternoon we passed some small ridges of sandstone crossing
the river from north to south, but very inconsiderable in point of
elevation and extent. We travelled this day twenty-seven miles,
directly towards the base of the mountains, but they appeared almost
as distant in the evening as they had done in the morning. The bearing
of the high peak above mentioned, from our encampment, was south, 75°

{179} The ensuing day being Sabbath, was devoted to rest. About our
camp, which was in the most fertile spot we could select, in a ride
of several miles, there was but a very insufficient supply of grass
for our horses. A species of cone flower, (rudbeckia columnaris, N.)
was here beginning to expand. The showy R. purpurea, very common on
the Missouri, and the lower part of the Platte, does not extend into
the desolate regions. The common purslane (portulacca oleracea) is one
of the most frequent plants about the base of the Rocky Mountains,
particularly in places much frequented as licks by the bisons and other

From this encampment, we had a plain but still distant view of the
mountains. No inequality occurs in the surface of the subjacent country
on the east of the mountains, so that our view was wholly unobstructed.
They stretched from north to south like an immense wall, occupying
all that portion of the horizon lying to the north-west, west, and
south-west. We could now see the surface of the plain, extending almost
unvaried to the base of the first ridge, which rises by an abrupt
ascent above the commencement of the snow.

A set of observations for longitude was commenced in the morning, but
the weather becoming cloudy, we were prevented from completing them.
In the afternoon a storm came on from the north, which continued
during the night. Much rain fell, accompanied with thunder and high
but variable winds. Between twelve o'clock and sunset, the mercury in
Fahrenheit's thermometer fell nineteen degrees, from 89° to 60°.

3d. Breakfast was despatched, and we had mounted our horses before
five o'clock. We were enabled to have our breakfast thus early, as the
sentinel on duty during the night, was directed to put the kettles
over the fire at three o'clock, all the processes preparatory {180} to
boiling having been finished on the preceding evening.

As we approached the mountains, wood became much more abundant along
the Platte. We had often heard our guide, in speaking of the country,
two or three days' journey from the mountains, mention the Grand
Forest, and were a little surprised on arriving at it, to find no more
than a narrow but uninterrupted stripe of timber, extending along the
immediate banks of the river, never occupying the space of half a mile
in width.

For several days the direction of our course in ascending the Platte,
had inclined considerably to the south, varying from due west to south,
20° west.

In the course of the day, we passed the mouths of three large creeks,
heading in the mountains, and entering the Platte from the north-west.
One of these, nearly opposite to which we encamped, is called Potera's
creek, from a Frenchman of that name, who is said to have been
bewildered upon it, wandering about for twenty days, almost without
food. He was then found by a band of Kiawas, who frequent this part of
the country, and restored to his companions, a party of hunters, at
that time encamped on the Arkansa.[130]

[130] At this point it becomes difficult to follow exactly the
movements of the party, as the nomenclature of the region has in the
interim changed almost entirely. Moreover, the itinerary is carelessly
recorded and the map of the expedition is inaccurate. The journey of
twenty-seven miles on July 1, reckoned from the camp of June 30, near
the Bijeau, as shown on the map, brought the party nearly to the Cache
la Poudre River, which flows from the northwest, reaching the South
Platte below the bend where its course turns eastward. Cache la Poudre
is shown but not named on the map, which, apparently erring, places
the camp of July 1 and 2 above its mouth; for it is evidently the
first of the large creeks passed on the third. At the bend is Thompson
Creek, also unnamed on Long's map; and just above is St. Vrain Creek.
Both of these flow from the west and the latter evidently corresponds
to Potera's Creek of the text. The bend in the river, passed July 3,
is the point of nearest approach to Long's Peak, still forty miles
distant. Near the camp of that evening, at the mouth of St. Vrain's
Creek, the important fur-trading firm of Bent and St. Vrain built St.
Vrain's Fort about twenty years later. In favorable weather, Pike's
Peak is visible from this point.—ED.

Throughout the day we were approaching the mountains obliquely, and
from our encampment at evening, we supposed them to be about twenty
miles distant. Clouds were hanging about all the higher parts of the
mountains, which were sometimes observed to collect together, and
descend in showers, circumscribed to a limited district. This state of
the weather obstructed the clearness, but added greatly to the imposing
grandeur of some of the views which the mountain presented.

4th. We had hoped to celebrate our great national festival on the
Rocky Mountains; but the day had arrived, and they were still at a
distance. Being extremely impatient of any unnecessary delay, which
{181} prevented us from entering upon the examination of the mountains,
we did not devote the day to rest, as had been our intention. We did
not, however, forget to celebrate the anniversary of our national
independence, according to our circumstances. An extra pint of maize
was issued to each mess, and a small portion of whiskey distributed.

On leaving the camp in the morning, Major Long and Lieutenant
Swift preceded the party, intending to select a suitable place for
encampment, where they proposed to commence a set of observations, and
to wait the arrival of the remainder of the party. But as they had gone
forward about two miles, the point of woods at which they had left
the course was mistaken by the main body, which moved on until about
eleven o'clock. By this time much anxiety was felt on account of their
absence, and persons were sent out to attempt to discover them, but
returned unsuccessful. A circumstance tending to increase the anxiety
which was felt, was, that Indians were reported to have been seen in
the course of the morning by several of the party. Captain Bell was
about to despatch as large a force as it was thought prudent to spare
from the camp, to search for them in all the distance which had been
passed since they were seen, when they arrived at the encampment of the
main body, at half past one P.M.

The observations which had been made were, of course, lost, as the
corresponding equal altitudes for the correction of time could not be

In the evening, the meridional altitude of Antares was taken for

Several valuable plants were here collected, and, among others, a large
suffruticose species of lupine. The long-leaved cotton-wood[131] of
Lewis and Clarke, which is, according to their suggestion, a species
of populus, is here of very common occurrence. It is {182} found
intermixed with the common cotton-wood, resembling it in size and
general aspect. Its leaves are long and narrow; its trunk smoother,
and its branches more slender and flexile than those of the populus
angulata. Some of its fruit was fortunately still remaining, affording
us an opportunity to be entirely satisfied of its relation to this

[131] Populus angustifolia, J.—JAMES.

Here we also observed both species of the splendid and interesting
Bartonia, and B. nuda in full flower, the ornata not yet expanded.

These most singular plants are interesting on several accounts,
particularly the regular expansion of their large and beautiful flowers
towards the evening of several successive days. In the morning the long
and slender petals, and the petal-like nectaries, which compose the
flower, are found accurately closed upon each other, forming a cone of
about an inch in length. In this situation they remain, if the weather
be clear, until about sunset, when they gradually expand. If the
weather be dark and cloudy, with a humid atmosphere, they are awakened
from their slumbers at an earlier hour. We have, in some instances,
seen them fully expanded early in the afternoon; but this has always
been in stormy or cloudy weather. In this particular the Bartonia bears
some resemblance to the great night-flowering cereus, to which it is
closely allied; but the gaudy petals of the cereus, once unfolded, fall
into a state of irretrievable collapse, whereas, the Bartonia closes
and expands its flowers for many days in succession.[132]

[132] Other plants were collected about this encampment, among which
we distinguished an interesting species of ranunculus, having a flower
somewhat larger than that of R. fluviatilis with which it grows,
often extending, however, to some distance about the margins of the
pools in which it is principally found. R. _amphibius_; slender,
floating or decumbent, leaves reniform, four or five lobed, divisions
cuneate, oblong, margin crenate, petioles long and alternate. The
submersed leaves are, in every respect, similar to the floating ones.
Pentstemon _erianthera_, N., Poa _quinquefida_, Potentilla _anserina_,
Scrophularia _lanceolata_, Myosotis _glomerata_, N.? &c. were also seen

A number of young magpies were seen in the bushes about the river; also
the nests and young of the mockingbird, (turdus orpheus, Vieil.)

The prairie-dog villages we had observed to become more frequent and
more extensive as we approached the mountains; and we had now constant
opportunities of contrasting the stupendous elevations of the Andes
with the humble mounds cast up by this interesting little animal.
We observed in the {183} numerous burrows an appearance of greater
antiquity than in those more remote from the mountains. Many of the
mounds occupy an extent of several yards in diameter, though of but
inconsiderable elevation, and with the exception of the present
entrance, overgrown with a scanty herbage, which always marks the area
of the prairie-dog villages. Indeed we have observed several large
villages, with scarce a trace of vegetation about them. The food of the
marmot consisting of grasses and herbaceous plants, it is not perhaps
easy to assign a reason for the preference which, in selecting the
site of his habitation, he always shows for the most barren places,
unless it be that he may enjoy an unobstructed view of the surrounding
country, in order to be seasonably warned of the approach of wolves, or
other enemies.

Rattle-snakes of a particular species[133] are sometimes seen in
these villages. They are found between the Mississippi and the Rocky
Mountains, and appear to prefer an unproductive soil, where their
sluggish gait may not be retarded by the opposing obstacles of grass
and weeds. Whilst exploring Bowyer creek of the Missouri, in the
spring of 1820, our party met with six or eight of them during one
day's march on the prairie; and on our subsequent journey to the Rocky
Mountains, we several times encountered equal, or even greater numbers,
in the same space of time. This is the species of serpent which
travellers have observed to frequent the villages of the prairie dogs,
and to which they have attributed the unnatural habit of voluntary
domiciliation with that interesting animal. It is true that the
tergeminus, like many other serpents, will secure a refuge from danger
in any hole of the earth, rock, or fallen tree that may present itself,
regardless of the rightful occupant; but we witnessed no facts which
could be received as a proof that it was an acceptable inmate of the
dwelling of the arctomys.

[133] _Crotalus tergeminus_, S.—_Body_ dusky cinereous, a triple series
of deep brown spots; beneath with a double series of black spots.

_Body_ pale cinereous brown, a triple series of fuscous spots, dorsal
series consisting of about forty-two large, transversely oblong-oval
spots, each widely emarginate before, and obsoletely edged with
whitish lateral series, spots transversely oval, opposite to those of
back; between the dorsal and lateral series is a series of obsolete,
fuliginous spots, alternating those of the two other series; _head_
above with nine plates on the anterior part, on which are a band and
about three spots, two undulated vittæ terminating and confluent with
the first spot of the neck, a black vittæ passes through the eye, and
terminates on the neck each side; _beneath_ white, a double irregular
series of black spots, more confused towards the tail; _tail_ above,
with five or six fuscous fasciæ, beneath white irrorate with black
points, six terminal plates bifid.

  Length                            2 ft. 2⅛ in.
      tail                                2⅛ in.
  Plates of body                             151
      of tail                                 19
  Bifid plates at tip                          6

Another specimen, much smaller, Pl. 152. subcaudal, 20. scales at tip

{184} From the disparity in the number of plates and scales, and from
the greater size of the vertebral spots in this species than in the C.
miliaris, we have been induced to consider this as a distinct species.
Specimens are in the Philadelphia museum.

On the 5th of July we left our camp at an early hour, and ascended the
Platte about ten miles. Here the party encamped for the day;[134] and
Mr. Peale and Dr. James, with two riflemen, went out for an excursion
on foot, intending to ascend the Cannon-ball creek to the mountains,
which appeared to be about five miles distant.

[134] The journey of July 4, and the ten miles travelled on the fifth,
would carry the party thirty-five or forty miles up the river from the
mouth of St. Vrain's Creek; this would, for their camp of the fifth,
bring them near the site of Denver. Vermillion Creek, which was crossed
early on the sixth, is evidently Cherry Creek, which flows through the
present city.—ED.

This creek is rapid and clear, flowing over a bed paved with rounded
masses of granite and gneiss. It is from a supposed resemblance of
these masses to cannon balls that the creek has received its name from
the French hunters. The channel is sunk from fifty to one hundred feet
below the common level of the plain.

This plain consists of a bed of coarse pebbles, gravel, and sand; and
its surface is thinly covered with prickly pears, and a scanty growth
of starved and rigid grasses. Among these the hygrometric stipa, (s.
juncea, s. barbata,) is extremely troublesome, its barbed and pointed
seeds adhering and penetrating, like the quills of the porcupine, into
every part of the dress with which they come in contact. The long and
rigid awn is contorted or straight, in proportion to the humidity or
dryness of the atmosphere; indicating the changes in this respect with
the precision of the nicest hygrometer.

The detached party extended their walk about eight miles without
finding that they had very considerably diminished the apparent
distance to the base of the mountain. They had unluckily forgotten
to make any provision for dinner, and now found themselves fatigued
and hungry at the distance of eight miles from the encampment of the
main body and so far from the mountains, that it was evidently {185}
impossible they should reach them and return on the same day. It was
therefore determined to relinquish the attempt, and Mr. Peale was
fortunate enough to kill a couple of curlews, which were roasted and
eaten without loss of time.

Near the place of this halt they observed some small sandstone ridges
similar to those on the Platte below, and collected, among other
plants, the species of currant (ribes aureum?) so often mentioned by
Lewis and Clarke, the fruit of which formed an important article of the
subsistence of their party while crossing the Rocky Mountains.[135]

[135] The ripened fruit of this widely-distributed shrub is variable
in colour. In dry and exposed situations about the higher parts of the
mountains, we have met with the berries of a deep purple, while in
the low grounds, they are fulvous or nearly white. On the Cannon-ball
creek we saw also the common virgin's bower. Clematis _virginica_, Ph.
Lycopus _europeus_, Liatris _graminifolia_, Sium _latifolium_, Œnothera
_diennis_, and other plants, common in the east, with the more rare
Linum _Lewisii_, Ph. and Eriogonum _sericeum_, &c.—JAMES.

They also saw about the shelvings of the sandstone rocks, which formed
for some distance the banks of the stream, innumerable nests of the
cliff swallows, similar to those seen on the Missouri. In returning to
the camp by a different route, they were much annoyed by the prickly
pears, covering the ground so closely, that their feet were frequently
wounded by the thorns, against which their mockasins presented but a
very inadequate protection.

Having killed a young antelope, they recrossed the Platte, which was
here about three feet deep, and clear, and rapid, and arrived at camp
at sun-set.

Here a complete set of observations, for latitude, longitude, &c., had
been taken. Major Long and Lieutenant Swift having preceded the party
in the morning, and arrived before seven o'clock for that purpose. In
the evening, observations were attempted, but without success, as the
sky soon became cloudy.

Robins, which we had not seen since we left the Missouri, here occurred
in considerable numbers.

On the following morning, soon after leaving the encampment, we crossed
Vermilion creek, a considerable tributary from the south. Its upper
branches interlock with those of a tributary of the Arkansa. In some
part of its course, its valley is bounded by {186} precipitous cliffs
of a red sand-rock, whence the name of the creek.

Our guide informed us that the Indians, a few years since, destroyed
every individual of a large herd of bisons, by driving them over the
brink of one of these precipices.

Opposite the mouth of Vermilion creek is a much larger stream, from
the north-west, which is called medicine-lodge creek,[136] from an
old Indian medicine lodge, which formerly stood near its mouth. A
few miles further, on the same side, is Grand Camp creek, heading
also in the mountains. About four years previous to the time of our
visit, there had been a large encampment of Indians and hunters on
this creek. On that occasion, three nations of Indians, namely, the
Kiawas, Arrapahoes, and Kaskaias or Bad-hearts, had been assembled
together, with forty-five French hunters in the employ of Mr. Choteau
and Mr. Demun of St. Louis.[137] They had assembled for the purpose of
holding a trading council with a band of Shiennes. These last had been
recently supplied with goods by the British traders on the Missouri,
and had come to exchange them with the former for horses. The Kiawas,
Arrapahoes, &c. who wander in the fertile plains of the Arkansa and Red
river, have always great numbers of horses, which they rear with much
less difficulty than the Shiennes, whose country is cold and barren.

[136] Medicine Lodge Creek, Cannon Ball Creek, mentioned above, and
Grand Camp and Grape creeks, referred to a few lines below, cannot be
certainly identified. Streams most nearly answering the descriptions
given are now called Clear, Bear, and Deer creeks.—ED.

[137] A. P. Chouteau and Julius De Munn formed a partnership in
1815, for trading on the upper Platte and Arkansas. De Munn soon
after went to Santa Fé, where he sought permission to trap within
Spanish territory; but the negotiations, which at first promised to
be successful, took an unfavorable turn, with the result that both
partners were arrested in 1817, and after a short confinement deprived
of their goods and ejected from the Spanish dominions. The Santa Fé
route was not fully open to trade until after the downfall of Spanish
power in 1821.—ED.

[Illustration: View of the Chasm through which the Platte issues from
the Rocky Mountains]

The British traders annually supply the Minnetarees or Gros-ventres
of the Missouri with goods; from these they pass to the Shiennes and
Crow Indians, who, in their turn, barter them with remoter tribes: in
this manner the Indians who wander near the mountains receive their
supplies of goods, and they give a decided and well founded preference
to those which reach them by this circuitous channel, to those which
they receive from any other source.

Two miles beyond Grand Camp creek, is the mouth of Grape creek, and a
little above, on the {187} opposite side, that of Defile creek,[138]
a tributary to the Platte, from the south, which has its course in a
narrow defile, lying along the base of the mountains.

[138] Defile Creek is the modern Plum Creek, which flows north through
Douglas County.—ED.

At eleven o'clock we arrived at the boundary of that vast plain, across
which we had held our weary march for a distance of near one thousand
miles, and encamped at the base of the mountain. The woodless plain
is terminated by a range of naked and almost perpendicular rocks,
visible at a distance of several miles, and resembling a vast wall,
parallel to the base of the mountain. These rocks are sandstone similar
in composition and character to that on the Cannon-ball creek. They
emerge at a great angle of inclination from beneath the alluvial of the
plain, and rise abruptly to an elevation of one hundred and fifty or
two hundred feet. Passing within this first range, we found a narrow
valley separating it from a second ridge of sandstone, of nearly equal
elevation, and apparently resting against the base of a high primitive
hill beyond. At the foot of the first range, the party encamped at
noon, and were soon scattered in various directions, being eager to
commence the examination of that interesting region.

Our camp was immediately in front of the chasm, through which the
Platte issues from the mountains. A little to the south is a commanding
eminence, from which the view of the chasm was taken.[139]

[139] See p. 283.—ED.


    Sandstone Formation at the Base of the Rocky Mountains—The
    Platte within the Mountains—Granitic Mountains Between the
    Platte and Arkansa—Castle Rock—Birds—Plants.

THE district occupied by the inclined sandstone, at the base of the
mountains, we found much wider, and the rocky summits incomparably more
elevated, than from a remote view we had supposed.

July 6. This extensive range, rising abruptly from the plain, skirts
the base of the mountains like an immense rampart, and to a spectator
placed near it, intercepts the view of the still more grand and
imposing features of the granitic ridge beyond. It is made up of rocks
composed of the broken down and comminuted fragments of preexisting
aggregates embosoming reliquæ of the animals of a former world, known
to us only by the monuments which these remains exhibit. Though rugged
and precipitous, its elevation is small, when compared to that of
the stupendous Andes, which rise above it far into the regions of
perpetual winter. The stratifications with which it is distinctly
seamed, penetrate the mass with various degrees of obliquity, sometimes
running perpendicularly to the horizon; seeming unequivocally to prove,
that the whole has receded from its original position, and that these
immense rocky masses have, by the operation of some powerful agent,
been broken off from their original continuity with the strata now
found in a horizontal position in the plains.

It is difficult, when contemplating the present appearance and
situation of these rocks, to prevent the {189} imagination from
wandering back to that remote period, when the billows of an ocean
lashed the base of the Andes, depositing, during a succession of ages,
that vast accumulation of rounded fragments of rocks, alternating with
beds of animal remains, which now extends without interruption from
the base of this range to the summits of the Alleghany mountains; and
endeavouring to form some idea of that great subsequent catastrophe,
by which this secondary formation has so changed its elevation, in
relation to the primitive, that its margin has been broken off and
thrown into an inclined or vertical position.

The valley which intervenes between this huge parapet of sand-rock
and the first range of the primitive is nearly a mile in width; it
is ornamented with numerous insulated columnar rocks, sometimes of a
snowy whiteness, standing like pyramids and obelisks, interspersed
among mounds and hillocks, which seem to have resulted from the
disintegration of similar masses. This range of sandstone would
appear to have been originally of uniform elevation and uninterrupted
continuity, running along the base of the mountains from north to
south; but it has been cut through by the bed of the Platte, and all
the larger streams in their descent to the plains.

From our camp, we had expected to be able to ascend the most distant
summits then in sight, and return the same evening; but night overtook
us, and we found ourselves scarcely arrived at the base of the
mountain.[140] The lower part of the sandstone stratum, being exposed
at the western declivities of the hills, and in the parts nearest
the granite, contains extensive beds of coarse conglomeratic, or
pudding-stone, often of a reddish colour. The more compact parts of the
rock contain the remains of terebratulæ, and other submarine animals.
Among these, few are entire or in good preservation. We observed here
several singular scorpion-like, spider-formed {190} animals, inhabiting
under stones and dried bisons' dung. They have a formidable appearance,
and run actively. They belong to the class arachnoides, genus galeodes,
which has been heretofore observed only in warm climates; not one was
known to inhabit this continent.[141]

[140] The deceptiveness of Colorado distances, owing to the rarefied
atmosphere, is one of the commonest observations of tourists. Pike, in
1806, thought it would be possible to ascend the peak which now bears
his name, and return to camp in the course of one day. From Colorado
Springs it is apparently only a short walk to the summit; but the
air-line distance is twelve miles, and that which must actually be
travelled is two and a half times as great.—ED.

[141] Genus _Galeodes_, OLIV.—1. G. _pallipes_, SAY.—Hairy, mandibles
horizontal, fingers regularly arquated, abdomen sub-depressed livid.

_Body_ pale yellowish-brown, hairy; _feet_ paler, whitish, first pair
smallest, fourth pair largest and longest; _abdomen_ livid, hairy,
sub-depressed; _palpi_ more robust than the three anterior pairs of
feet, of subequal diameter, but rather thicker towards the tip; more
hairy than the feet; _eyes_ and _tubercle_ blackish; _mandibles_
dilated, with numerous rigid setæ, and with parallel setæ projected
over the fingers; _fingers_ regularly arquated, reddish-brown at tip,
and with a reddish-brown line above and beneath, within armed with many
robust teeth; thorax with a deep sinus at the anterior angles.

2. G. _subulata_, SAY.—Hairy; _mandibles_ horizontal; _thumb_ nearly
rectilinear, destitute of teeth. This species has the strongest
resemblance to the preceding, both in form, magnitude, and colouring;
but the superior finger of the mandibles is unarmed, and rectilinear or
very slightly flexuous; the inferior finger is arquated, with about two
robust teeth.—JAMES.

About the sandstone ledges we collected a geranium[142] intermediate
between the crane's-bill and herb-robert, the beautiful calochortus
(C. elegans, Ph.) and a few other valuable plants.

[142] G. _intermedium_, I.—Cespitose, sub-erect, pubescent, sparingly
branched above. Radical leaves reniform deeply 5/7 cleft. The flower is
a little larger than that of G. _robertianum_, and similarly coloured,
having whitish lines towards the base of the corolla. We also saw here
the Campanula _decipiens_, _Tens_. Lysimachia _ciliata_, Ph. Troximon
_glaucum_, N., with two or three belonging to Geneva, with which we
were unacquainted.—JAMES.

The Platte, at the foot of the mountains, is twenty-five yards wide,
having an average depth of about three feet, its water clear and cool,
and its current rapid. Its descent for twenty miles below cannot be
less than ten feet per mile. Its valley is narrow and serpentine,
bounded by steep and elevated hills, embosoming innumerable little
lawns, often of a semicircular form, ornamented by the narrow margin of
shrubbery along the Platte.

The narrow valley between the ridges of sandstone is a little more
fertile than the plains along the river. It is covered with fine and
short grasses, and is varied with here and there a copse of small oaks
or hazels. There are also some columnar masses of white sandstone,
twenty or thirty feet high, standing remote from each other, having
the _débris_ around their bases covered with shrubby oaks. As we were
passing near one of these, an uncommonly large and beautiful buck deer
sprung out from the bushes, and stood gazing on us, until he received
in his side the ball, which brought him instantly to the earth.

We observed here the obscure wren,[143] a bird more closely related
to the great Carolina wren of Wilson than any other we have seen;
but the characters drawn from the primaries, and from the marking of
the tail, sufficiently distinguish it from that species. The bill is
somewhat longer, and the general tint of the plumage of a much more
sombre hue. It frequents the arid country in this vicinity, {191} and
is often seen hopping about upon the branches, and singular compressed
semi-procumbent trunks of the juniperus depressa. The bill of this
species approaches the form which characterizes the genus certhia, in
which Wilson has placed its kindred species, the Carolina wren.

[143] Genus _Troglodytes_. CUV.—T. _obsoleta_, _Say_.—Above
dusky-brownish, slightly undulated with pale, tinted with dull
ferruginous on the top of the head, and superior portion of the back;
_sides of the head_ dull whitish, with a broad brown line passing
through the eye to the origin of the neck; _primaries_ plain, being
entirely destitute of undulations or spots; _tail coverts_ pale, each
with four or five fuscous bands; _chin_, _neck beneath_, and _breast_
whitish, each feather marked by a longitudinal line of light brown;
_belly_ white; _flanks_ a little tinged with ferruginous; _inferior
tail coverts_ white, each feather bifasciate with black-brown; _tail_
simple, broadly tipped with ferruginous-yellow, and with black before
the tip, the remaining portion colour of wings, and obsoletely banded;
these bands are more distinct on the two middle feathers, which are
destitute of the black and yellowish termination; exterior plume marked
by four yellowish white spots on the exterior web, and by two larger
ones on the inner web; the tip is dusky, length six inches; bill, from
the corner of the mouth, rather more than one inch.—JAMES.

On the morning of the 7th of July, the party remaining in the
encampment of the preceding day, Dr. James and Mr. Peale, accompanied
by two riflemen, were sent out to examine the mountains. These
appeared most accessible on the north side of the river, opposite our
encampment. The river was here about four feet deep, and the strength
of the current such as to render it impossible for a man to keep his
feet in the deepest part of the stream. As some of the party destined
for the mountains could not swim, it was thought hazardous for them to
attempt to cross the river by fording. To obviate this difficulty, two
men were sent with a long rope, which they were directed to stretch
across the river, making the ends fast on either shore. This was
readily accomplished, one of the men swimming across with an end of the
rope in his teeth. By the aid of this, the detachment were enabled to
keep their feet in crossing, though with extreme difficulty, as the bed
of the river was uneven and rocky. They all, however, arrived in safety
on the left-hand bank by about sunrise.

After passing the region of inclined sandstone, which is about two
miles in width, they began to rise upon what may be considered the
base of the mountain. As the day advanced, the heat became oppressive,
and they found themselves somewhat exhausted before they had crossed
the sandstone hills, which appeared so inconsiderable from our
encampment, that the labour of crossing them had been almost forgotten
in estimating the toils of the day. The first range of primitive rocks
they found far more abrupt and rugged than what they had already
passed. Its sides are destitute of vegetation, except a few prickly
{192} pears and yuccas, with here and there a stinted oak or juniper,
and so steep that great exertion as well as the utmost caution, are
necessary in ascending.

The rock is an aggregate of felspar and hornblende, approaching in
character some of the common varieties of sienite. On the eastern side,
where the felspar is in the greatest proportion, it is flesh-coloured,
and its structure crystalline; the fractured surface of the mass
being uneven like that of coarse granite. Advancing towards the west,
hornblende was found to become more and more predominant, and so
arranged as to have in the mass a laminated appearance. The natural
fissures or cleavages between the lamina run nearly in a perpendicular
direction, giving the rock the columnar structure of trap or greenstone.

As the detachment proceeded, a few interesting insects and plants
occurred to reward their labours. But these impenetrable and naked
rocks, are the abodes of few living beings, either animal or vegetable.
In the crevices of the rocks where a scanty soil has accumulated, is
here and there planted a hardy evergreen, whose short and gnarled
trunk, recurved and inflexible branches, proclaim the storms it has
withstood, and the centuries during which it has vegetated.

The design of the party had been to cross the first range of the
mountains and gain the valley of the Platte beyond, but this they
found themselves unable to accomplish. After climbing successively to
the summit of several ridges which they had supposed to be the top of
the mountain, they still found others beyond higher and more rugged.
They therefore relinquished the intention of crossing, and began to
look for the best way to descend to the bed of the river, which lay
on their left hand. Here they halted to rest for a few moments, and
exposed a thermometer in the shade of a large rock. The mercury fell
to 72°; in camp, at the same hour it stood at {193} 86°. They were so
much elevated above the river, that although they could see it plainly,
it appeared like a small brook of two or three yards in width, and
though white with foam and spray, caused by the impetuosity of its
current, and the roughness of its channel, its "idle chiding could not
be heard so high." They could distinguish two principal branches of
the Platte—one coming from the north-west, the other from the south; a
little below the confluence of these branches, the river turns abruptly
to the S. E., bursting through a chasm in a vast mural precipice of
naked columnar rocks.[144]

[144] The North Fork of the South Platte encloses South Park on the
north, flowing from west to east; while the other branch, which retains
the name South Platte, encircles South Park on the south and east.
The Denver, Leadville, and Gunnison Railroad now enters the mountain
district through Platte Cañon. It is probable that Pike entered
South Park in 1806 (see volume xvi, note 14); but Long's failure to
penetrate the mountains at this point left the famous park unknown,
save to wandering hunters, until Frémont's time, more than twenty years

About noon the detachment commenced their descent, which cost them
no less exertion than their ascent in the morning. Their fatigue
was aggravated by thirst, as they met with no water, nor any shade
excepting that of projecting rocks in the higher parts of the mountain.

They chose a different route from that which they had taken in
ascending, intending to descend to the river, with the hope of being
able to travel along its bed. They were obliged to assist each other
in lowering themselves down precipices; they would have found it
impossible to pass singly. On the southern declivity of the mountain,
they met with a few ripe currants, but these were hard and juiceless,
of a sweetish taste, and aggravated, instead of alleviating their
thirst, and were probably the cause of a violent head-ache, with which
several of the party were affected soon after eating them. There
were also found a few large and delicious raspberries, of a species
approaching the flowering raspberry (rubus odoratus), but with smaller
leaves, and a more branching stem.

After descending from the more precipitous parts about the summit of
the mountain, they crossed along a rugged tract, buried and rendered
almost impassable by boulders and fragments which had fallen from
above, and were at length so fortunate as to {194} find a spring of
cool water, and a shade, in a narrow ravine; where they sat down to
rest and dine on the provision they had brought.

The men who were with them stopped in the same ravine, a few rods
below. One of these was violently attacked, immediately after drinking
of the water, with headache, vomiting, and purging, which increased to
such an alarming degree, that he was presently unable to stand upon his
feet. As it was feared he would not soon be able to walk, Mr. Peale
undertook to return alone to camp, and give notice of his situation,
and return with medicine and assistance.

He descended along a rough and obstructed ravine, until he arrived at
the Platte, but found the valley so confined as to be impassable, and
again directed his course towards the north-east, attempting to regain
the route which the party had taken in ascending. After a most rugged
and fatiguing march of about six miles, he arrived at camp late in the
afternoon. Here he found a number of the party suffering in a similar
manner, but not so severely as the man he had left in the mountains.
Two men were immediately despatched in search of the disabled party.

Mr. Peale had left them but a short time, when their attention was
called to the noise as of some large animal running up the narrow
defile in which they were sitting; on turning round they perceived a
large bear advancing at full speed towards the place where they were.
Seizing their rifles, they fired upon him at the distance of about ten
steps, but the bear, without stopping or turning his head, mounted an
almost perpendicular precipice of about thirty feet, and was out of
sight in an instant.

At this spot, which was several miles within the mountains, and
elevated nearly to the limit of phænogamous vegetation, the common
hop (H. lupulus) was growing in perfection; also the box elder (acer
negundo, Ph.), the common sarsaparilla of the eastern {195} States
(aralia nudicaulis), the spikenard (A. vacemora), and many other common

After waiting about two hours, they found the sick man so far recovered
as to be able to stand upon his feet and walk a little. They therefore
relieved him of his gun and other luggage, and moved by short stages
towards camp, where they arrived at a late hour in the evening.[145]

[145] Among many plants collected in this excursion, some of them new
to us, we recognized an old acquaintance in the bearberry (Arbutus
_uva-ursi_, L.) an inhabitant of the mountainous districts of New
York and New England; also the Dodecatheon _integrifolium_, Ph.; and
a beautiful little plant referable to the genus Mentzelia of Plumier.
On the higher parts of the mountain an oak is common, approaching in
character to the Quercus _banisteri_, Mx. Also a small undescribed
acer, the Juniperus _communis_ and I. _virginiana_; in the ravines,
the Rhus _toxicodendron_, Spiræa _opulifolia_, olc; and at the base of
the mountains the Prenanthes _runcinata, leaves runcinate pinnatifid,
⅔ inches long, five lines wide_. Resembles P. _Juncea_, Saxifraga
_nivales_, L. A. cerastium, olc.—JAMES.

The men who had been sent out to their assistance returned some time
afterwards, having sought for them without success.

On the morning,[146] soon after the departure of Dr. James's
detachment, two of the party passed into the mountains on the left side
of the river; they experienced much difficulty, and underwent much
labour in scaling the steep ascents, and some hazard in descending
the precipitous declivities which marked their course. The timber was
small, scrubby, and scattered in the most favoured situation; and
many of the solitary pines which occupied an elevated position, had
evidently been the sport of furious tempests, being rived and seamed
by lightning. Upon surmounting one of the elevations, they observed
on a projecting ledge of the succeeding mountain two elk grazing,
which seemed to be at a very short distance; and in consequence of
this deceptive appearance were magnified into a vast size. The party
were surprized at the apparent heedlessness of these animals, which
remained peacefully feeding, whilst the party was clambering along the
rocks in full view, until at length they majestically bounded off,
leaving the authors of their alarm to measure the unexpected distance
to the position they had occupied. To the right, and easy of access,
was a projecting rock supporting a single humble cedar in one of its
fissures, from which a stone let fall was received into the torrent of
the river which washed its base. The huge rampart of naked rock which
had been seen from below to stretch across {196} the valley, was now
in nearer view, the river whirling abruptly around the acute angle of
its extremity, and offering at its superior edge an embattled outline.
They ascended a primitive mountain, which seemed to be of a superior
elevation, in order to overlook the western ranges; but found their
horizon bounded by the succeeding mountains towering majestically
above them. To the east, over the tops of a few inferior elevations,
lay expanded the vast interminable prairie over which we had so long
held our mountainous march. The undulations which swell its surface
now disappeared, and the whole lay like a map before the observer.
They could trace the course of the Platte, and number the streams they
had crossed, and others which they had before passed near, by the
slight fringing of timber or bushes which margined their banks, and by
an occasional glimpse of their streams shining like quicksilver, and
interrupting and varying the continuity of the plain as they pursued
their serpentine course. The atmosphere was remarkably serene, small
clouds were coursing over the surface of the heavens, casting their
swiftly moving shadows upon the earth, and enhancing the beauty of the
contrast which the long lines of timber afforded to the general glare
of light. After contemplating for some time the beauty and extent of
the scene, their attention was attracted by a moving point, which
occasionally became visible by reflecting the rays of the retiring
sun. This object was our white flag, waving in a gentle breeze, and
revealing the position of our camp, the only spot in the boundless
landscape where the eye could rest on the work of human hands. The
descent towards the river from this pinnacle was so precipitous, that
much caution was requisite in attempting to gain the river towards
which they now directed their course. Upon a step or resting place
were several ponderous masses of rock, which, by the application of
a little force, were readily overturned down the steep; and {197} we
were amused by marking their impetuous and rapidly increasing motion
as they rolled and bounded onward, until a surge and wide-thrown spray
announced their reception into the bed of the river. Arriving at the
river, it was found necessary to pass along in the stream, the margin
not admitting sufficient foot-hold; this mode of progression, however,
soon proved too painful and laborious, as the very unequal rocks with
which the bottom was paved, were invested with a slime, and refused
repose to the foot, the uncertain motion of which was only arrested
by the opposition of an angular fragment, or the intervention of an
interstice; we therefore again ascended the mountain side, and at
length regained the plain.

[146] The words "of the same day" should here be inserted; so reads the
Philadelphia edition.—ED.

Astronomical observations were attempted at camp, but in the middle of
the day the moon was found to be too near the sun, and in the evening
the sky was cloudy.

The sickness experienced by almost all the party was probably
occasioned by eating of currants, which were abundant about the camp.
It is not to be supposed this illness was caused by any very active
deleterious quality in the fruit, but that the stomach, by long disuse,
had in a great measure lost the power of digesting vegetable matter.
Several continued unwell during the night.

On the morning of the 9th [8th] of July[147] we resumed our journey,
travelling somewhat east of south along a small tributary of the
Platte. The bed of this stream lies from south to north along a narrow
valley, bounded on each side by high cliffs of sandstone. The rock is
similar to that already mentioned, its strata having, however, less
inclination than is observed nearer the base of the mountain. It is the
margin of that great formation of secondary which occupies the plain,
and appears as if broken off and thrown into an inclined position by
some convulsion which changed the relative elevation of {198} the
stratum. It is of great thickness, its laminæ in an almost vertical
position, covering a surface of two or three, and sometimes many miles
in width. On the eastern declivities of the first ranges of hills
in places which may be supposed to have occupied the surface of the
stratum in its original position, the rock is usually of a close grain
and compact texture, and of a yellowish white or light gray colour.

[147] A series of erroneous dates begins here. The expedition
undoubtedly left Platte Cañon July 8, of which day the text gives no
account. July 9 was Sunday, instead of July 10, as the text states
below. A compensating error is introduced by giving the date July 12 to
accounts of the journeys of parts of two days. The Philadelphia edition
also has the erroneous dating of the ninth, tenth, and eleventh,
but includes the remainder of the chapter under the last date, thus
failing entirely to account for the twelfth, and really including the
operations of three days (tenth, eleventh, and twelfth) under date of
July 11. The itinerary for these days is more accurately indicated on
the map.—ED.

We observed, in various parts of the valley which traverse this
sandstone district, several detached columnar masses, many of them
bearing a striking resemblance to colossal ruins; also some insulated
hills with perpendicular sides and level summits. These seem to be the
remains of an extensive portion of the sandstone stratum which formerly
covered the country to the level of their highest summits. They occur
at considerable distance from the base of the primitive mountain, and
their summits are occupied by horizontal strata of sandstone; for a
small portion of the upper part of their elevation their sides are
nearly perpendicular, but their bases are surrounded by an extensive
accumulation of _débris_ sometimes rising nearly to the summit. After
ascending the small stream before mentioned to its source, we crossed
an inconsiderable ridge which separates it from the valley of Defile
Creek. This we ascended to the place where its principal branch
descends from the mountains. Here we encamped with the intention of
resting on the following day, which was Sunday.[148]

[148] The camp of July 8 and 9 was probably near the site of Sedalia,
at the confluence of the east and west forks of Plum (here called
Defile) Creek.—ED.

July 10th [9th]. A beautiful species of pigeon was shot near the
mountain. The head is of a purplish cinereous colour; the back of the
neck, and its sides, brilliant golden-green; the feathers at base
brownish purple; above this patch, and at base of head, is a white
semi-band; the under part of the neck is pale vinaceous purplish;
this colour becomes paler as it approaches the vent, which, with the
inferior tail coverts, is white; anterior portion of the back, the
{199} wing coverts and scapulars are brownish ash; the larger wing
feathers dark brown, approaching black; the exterior edges whitish;
the lower part of the back, the rump and tail coverts, inferior wing
coverts and sides, bluish ash; paler beneath the wings; the shafts of
the body-feathers and tail coverts are remarkably robust, tapering
rather suddenly near the tips; the tail is medial, rounded at tip,
consisting of twelve feathers, a definite black band at two-thirds
their length from the base, before which the colour is bluish ash, and
behind it dirty whitish; the bill is yellow, tipped with black, and
somewhat gibbous behind the nostrils; the irides red; the feet yellow;
claws black.

This species seems to be most intimately connected to the ring-tailed
pigeon (C. caribæa), from which it differs in the colour of the legs
and bill, and in not having the gibbosity at the base of the latter so
remarkable. It is possible that it may be an intermediate link between
the ring-tailed pigeon and the stock pigeon of Europe, with the latter
of which it has, in common, the exterior white edging to the greater
wing feathers. It may be distinguished by the name of band-tailed
pigeon (columba fasciata, Say); and may be seen, with other specimens
of natural objects collected on this expedition, in the Philadelphia

Several of the tributaries to Defile creek appear to discharge as much
water as is seen in the stream below their junction. This appearance
is common to many of the larger creeks, their broad and sandy beds
allowing much of the water to sink, and pass off through the sand. In
the evening, a favourable opportunity, the first for several days,
presented, and observations for latitude were taken.

That part of Defile creek, near which we encamped, is filled with
dams, thrown across by the beaver, causing it to appear rather like
a succession of ponds than a continued stream. As we ascended {200}
farther towards the mountains, we found the works of these animals
still more frequent. The small willows and cotton-wood trees, which are
here in considerable numbers, afford them their most favourite food.

At no great distance to the east of our camp was one of these peculiar
hills above mentioned. In visiting it we crossed a ridge of sandstone,
about three hundred feet in height, with strata inclined to the west.
To this succeeds a valley, about one mile wide, having a scanty growth
of pine and oak. The ascent of the hill is steep and rugged. Horizontal
strata of sandstone and coarse conglomerate are exposed on its sides,
and the summit is capped by thin stratum of compact sandstone,
surmounted by a bed of greenstone trap, or trappea porphyry. The loose
and splintery fragments of this rock sometimes cover the surface,
making a clinking noise under the feet, like fragments of pottery.

The summit of this hill is of an oval form, about eight hundred yards
in length and five hundred in breadth. Its surface is undulating,
and is terminated on all sides by perpendicular precipices. The
elevation of the hill is about one thousand feet, and the height of the
perpendicular precipices, from the summit of the _débris_ to the top of
hill, about fifty.

From the top of this hill, the high peak mentioned by Captain Pike, was
discovered, and its bearing found to be S. 50. W.

Several of the party ascended Defile creek until they arrived at the
mountains, into which they penetrated as far as was found practicable.
As they travelled along the bed of this, they found the several rock
formations beautifully exposed, and in the following order.

Commencing from the alluvial of the plain on the east, they saw:

First, Horizontal sandstone, embracing extensive {201} beds of coarse
conglomeratic, and commonly of a light gray or reddish yellow colour.

Second, Fine compact gray sandstone, containing a few impressions
of organized remains, resembling those in the sandstones of coal
formations. This rock is inclined at an angle of near twenty degrees
towards the west. It forms continuous ranges of hills, not difficult
of ascent from the east, but their western declivities are abrupt and

Third, Lofty and detached columns of sandstone, of a reddish or deep
brown colour. These are irregularly scattered throughout a narrow
untimbered valley. Some of them rise probably three hundred feet above
the common level of the plain, and are so steep on all sides as to
preclude the possibility of ascent. Others are accessible at some
points, and one of these we ascended. Sketches of these singular rocks
have been preserved both by Mr. Peale and Mr. Seymour.

Fourth, Coarse white pudding-stone or conglomeratic and sandstone, of
a deep red colour, alternating with each other, and with beds of fine
white sandstone, and resting against the granite in a highly inclined
position. This rock contains well preserved remains of terebratulæ,
productus, and other bivalve shells. These are usually found on or near
the surface of large nodules of a fine flinty stone, closely resembling
petrosilex. The same rock also contains an extensive bed of iron ore;
and from its eastern side flows a copious brine spring.

About this spring, which had evidently been much frequented by animals,
we saw the skulls of the male and female big horn, the bones of elk,
bisons, and other animals.

The granite, which succeeds the sandstone last mentioned, is of a dark
reddish brown colour, containing a large proportion of felspar, of
the flesh-coloured variety, and black mica. The crystalline grains,
or fragments of the felspar, are large, and {202} detached easily, so
that the rock is in a state of rapid disintegration. This granite rises
abruptly in immense mountain masses, and undoubtedly extends far to the

The little river, on which our camp is situated, pours down from the
rugged side of the granitic mountain through a deep inaccessible chasm,
forming a continued cascade of several hundred feet. From an elevation
of one or two thousand feet on the side of the mountain, we were able
to overlook a considerable extent of secondary region at its base. The
surface appeared broken for several miles; and in many of the valleys
we could discern columnar and pyramidal masses of sand-rock, sometimes
entirely naked, and sometimes bearing little tufts of bushes about
their summits.

Here met with a female bird, which closely resembles, both in size and
figure, the female of the black game (tetrao tetrix); it is, however,
of a darker colour, and the plumage is not so much banded; the tail
also seems rather longer, and the feathers of it do not exhibit any
tendency to curve outward, which, if we mistake not, is exhibited by
the inner feathers of the tail of the corresponding one of the black

Its general colour is a black brown, with narrow bars of pale
ocraceous; plumage near the base of the beak above tinged with
ferruginous; each feather on the head, with a single band and slight
tip, those of the neck, back, tail coverts, and breast, two bands and
tip, the tips on the upper part of the back and on the tail coverts are
broad and spotted with black, with the inferior band often obsolete;
the throat and inferior portion of the upper sides of the neck are
covered with whitish feathers, on each of which is a black band or
spot; a white band on each feather of the breast, becoming broader on
those nearer the belly; on the belly, the plumage is dull cinereous
with concealed white lines on the shafts; {203} the wing coverts and
scapulars, about two banded with a spotted tip and second band, and
with the tip of the shaft white; the primaries and secondaries have
whitish zigzag spots on their outer webs, the first feather of the
former short, the second longer, the third, fourth, and fifth equal,
longest feathers of the sides with two or three bands and white spot at
the tip of the shaft; inferior tail coverts, white with a black band
and base, and slightly tinged with ocraceous on their centres; legs
feathered to the toes, and with the thighs pale, undulated with dusky;
tail rounded with a broad terminal band of cinereous, on which are
black zigzag spots; on the intermediate feathers are several ocraceous
spotted bands, but these become obsolete and confined to the exterior
webs on the lateral feathers, until they are hardly perceptible on the
exterior pair; a naked space above and beneath the eyes. It may be
distinguished by the name of the Dusky Grouse (tetrao obscurus, S.).

When this bird flew, it uttered a cackling note a little like that of
the domestic fowl; this note was noticed by Lewis and Clarke in the
bird which they speak of under the name of the cock of the plains, and
to which Mr. Ord has applied the name of tetrao fusca; a bird which,
agreeably to their description, appears to be different from this,
having the legs only half booted; the "fleshy protuberance about the
base of the upper chop," and "the long pointed tail" of that bird may
possibly be sexual distinctions.

It appears by the observations of Lewis and Clarke, that several
species of this genus inhabit the country which they traversed,
particularly in this elevated range of mountains, from whence, amongst
other interesting animals, they brought to Philadelphia a specimen of
the spotted grouse (T. canadensis); which, together with the above
described bird, are now preserved in the Philadelphia Museum, thus
proving that the spotted grouse is an inhabitant of a portion of the
territory of the United States.

{204} In the evening, a thunder-storm rose in the east. It appeared
for some time to approach, the thunder being loud and frequent, but at
length moved off towards the south-east, continuing visible in the
horizon during great part of the night.

July 11th [10th and 11th]. From our encampment we travelled nearly
south, and crossing a small ridge dividing the waters of the Platte
from those of the Arkansa, we halted to dine on a tributary of the
latter river.[149] In an excursion from this place, we collected a
large species of columbine, somewhat resembling the common one of the
gardens. It is heretofore unknown to the flora of the United States,
to which it forms a splendid acquisition. If it should appear not to
have been described, it may receive the name of aquilegia cœrulea.[150]
Our road during the morning lay for about twelve miles close along
the foot of the primitive mountain, having on our left some of the
sandstone ridges and hills already described. On our right, the brown
and naked granite rose in shapeless masses far above our heads; and
occasionally, as we passed the deep fissures worn by the descending
torrents, we caught a view of the distant summits glittering with
eternal frosts. In the valleys towards the east were many insulated and
lofty hills, with perpendicular sides, and level table-like summits.
They are sometimes disposed in parallel, but interrupted ranges, and
sometimes irregularly scattered, without any appearance of order. In
every instance they were found to be the remains of extensive beds
of sandstone; insulated portions of which had been preserved from
disintegration, while all the contiguous parts had crumbled down and
been washed away.

[149] The route described on the next few pages is an impossible one.
Chittenden characterizes it as "wholly indefinite and unsatisfactory"
(_American Fur Trade_, p. 59). The date "July 12th," on the next
page, does not appear in the Philadelphia edition, and was apparently
inserted to remedy the confusion; it increases it, however, since the
accounts of the journeys of two days (July 10 and 11) are intermingled
in the text itself. From the camp of July 8 and 9, the party might, by
noon of the tenth, have arrived opposite Castle Rock, which gives its
name to the present seat of justice of Douglas County. This, however,
would not bring them to a tributary of the Arkansas; by noon of July
11 they could have reached the upper waters of Monument, a branch of
Fountain Creek, which unites with the Arkansas at Pueblo. The camp of
July 10 is probably accurately located on the map, a short distance
below Castle Rock. On the morning of the eleventh, the direction taken
was almost due south, across the watershed between the Platte and
Arkansas, which at this point is almost on the line between Douglas
and El Paso counties. The map exaggerates the length of Boiling Spring
Creek (see succeeding volume, note 10), or Fountain Creek, a branch
of which (Monument Creek) they first encountered almost on the county
line. The afternoon march carried them somewhat south of the base of
Pike's Peak, necessitating the retracing of their route on the morning
of the twelfth. The route on the eleventh probably lay through the
region now famous as the Garden of the Gods.—ED.

[150] A. _cœrulea_, JAMES.—Leaves twice ternate; flowers terminal,
remote, nectaries strait and very long. It inhabits shady woods
of pine and spruce within the mountains, rising sometimes to the
height of three feet. In passing from the headwaters of the branch
of the Platte, called Defile creek, to those of one of the northern
tributaries of the Arkansa, we noticed some change in the soil, and
soon met with many plants we had not before seen. Several of these, as
the common juniper and the red cedar, (Juniperus _virginiana_, Ph.)
the black and hemlock-spruce, (Abies _nigra_ and A. _canadensis_) the
red maple (Acer rubrum, Mx.) the hop horn-beam (Ostrya Virginica, L.)
the Populus _tremuloides_, Mx. Pinus _resinosa_, Pyrola _secunda_,
Orchis _dilatata_, olc. are common to mountainous districts in all the
northern parts of the territory of the United States; many others are
here found, which require more careful and extensive comparison with
the plants of Mexico, Siberia, and other countries, than have yet had
the opportunity to make.—JAMES.

One of these singular hills, of which Mr. Seymour has preserved
a sketch, was called the Castle Rock, on account of its striking
resemblance to a work of art. It has columns, and porticoes and arches,
and {205} when seen from a distance has an astonishingly regular and
artificial appearance.

July 12th. [10th and 11th cont'd.]. On approaching it, the base is
found enveloped in an extensive accumulation of soil, intermixed with
fragments of rapidly disintegrating sandstone. The lower portions
of the perpendicular sides of the rock are of loosely cemented
pudding-stone, but the summit is capped by a compact and somewhat
durable sand-rock. This is surmounted by a scanty soil, in which are a
few stinted oaks and junipers.

We had seen no bisons for several days, but in the afternoon a few were
discovered at a distance from our course, and three men despatched
in pursuit of them. They were grazing on the side of a hill near a
mile distant. As provisions were growing scarce with us, we watched
the progress of the hunters with some anxiety. At length the firing
commenced, and we enjoyed a distant, though distinct view of the
animating spectacle of a bison hunt. In a short time the hunters joined
us with their horses loaded with meat.

We halted to dine on the tributary of the Arkansa before mentioned,
nearly opposite the Castle Rock. Intermixed with the grass upon
which we sat down to our dinner, we observed a small campanula, with
a solitary terminal flower, about as large as that of the common
hare-bell (C. decipiens). This species we believe to be identical with
the C. uniflora of Europe, which has not been heretofore noticed in the
United States.

In the afternoon we moved on, descending the little stream on which we
had halted for dinner. Like the small branches of the Platte, it is
inhabited by great numbers of beavers; but it has more timber, and a
more fertile soil than any stream of similar magnitude we had lately
passed. Some light showers occurred in the middle of the day, and at
evening a thunder-storm was observed, in the same manner {206} as on
the preceding day, to collect in the east, and after we had listened
to its thunders for some time, it moved off in the direction of the
Arkansa, but no rain fell where we were. In the course of the day
several elk were seen, and at evening we killed an antelope. Robins
are here frequent, and a jerboa was seen resembling the gerbillus
canadensis; many fine plants were collected, several of which are
hitherto undescribed.[151]

[151] One of these is a large and conspicuous plant of the natural
family of the _Cruciferæ_, which may be referred to the new genus,
Stanley of Nuttall, and distinguished as S. _integrifolia_; stem
simple, leaves entire, ovate oblong, tapering to both ends; stem
angular. Flowers in a terminal raceme, which is a little branched
below; about six inches in length; stipe of the silique, about as
long as the pedicle; flowers large yellow. The whole plant, seen at a
little distance, has a remote resemblance to Lysimachia thyrsifolia.
The leaves are ⅚ inches long, ⅔ wide, glaucous, and veined, nearly
resembling those of the common cabbage, but smoother, which they are
not wholly unlike in taste. The calyx is large, and of a brighter
yellow than the other parts of the flower: it inhabits the summits
of the sandstone ridges, along the base of the mountains. The S.
_pinnatifida_, N., the original type of this genus, was found by its
discoverer, Mr. Nuttall, to act as a violent emetic. It had been eaten
by several of the party who accompanied him, as a substitute for

Towards evening, our guide discovered we had already passed
considerably beyond the base of the peak, near which it had been
our intention to halt. He also perceived at the same moment, he had
arrived at the very spot where some years ago he had been made prisoner
by a party of Spaniards, who took him to Santa Fé.[152] As we were
particularly desirous of visiting the mountains at the point designated
in many maps as the highest "peak," we resolved to return upon our
course, but as it was now near sunset, we thought it advisable to
encamp for the night.

[152] He was probably a member of the party of Chouteau and De Munn,
arrested in 1817. See _ante_, note 134.—ED.

Our journey in the afternoon had been pursued in a bison path, and
although not in the direction of our proper course, and serving only
to prolong our march without advancing us towards the end of our
pilgrimage, yet it brought us near to that romantic scenery which for
many days we had chiefly contemplated with a distant eye. We entered
the secondary range along the margin of a deep ravine, which wound with
a serpentine course towards the base of the mountain. Our progress
was sometimes impeded by huge rocky masses which had been precipitated
from some neighbouring height; and sometimes by a dense forest of very
limited extent, or an immense impending wall or oblique buttress of
rock, which, by its proximity to the eye, vied with the grandeur of the
ascending piles beyond.

July 12th. On the morning of the 12th we retraced our path of the
preceding day, until a small {207} stream running towards the
north-east offered us a change of scenery, and a course more in
the direction we wished to pursue.[153] The inequalities of the
surface were greater than in the route of the preceding evening. The
precipitous character of several of the passes thoroughly tested the
confidence we felt in our sure-footed, but now wearied and exhausted
Indian horses and mules. Our rude pathway skirted along the base of an
elevated ridge, on whose side, far above our heads, projected a narrow
ledge of rocks, frowning defiance to all attempts to scale the steep.
This ledge declined gradually as we proceeded, until it terminated
abruptly on the edge of a profound gulph. Here appeared to be the only
spot at which the ridge could be ascended. On the brow of the cliff,
a fragment of rock and a small portion of earth were suspended by the
binding roots of a solitary pine, offering a frail and precarious
foothold. This we chose to ascend, startling and hazardous as the
attempt appeared, rather than retrace our steps for several miles, and
search for a passage in some other direction. The projecting ledge by
which we had ascended, had barely sufficient width to admit the passage
of a single individual at a time. When we had gained the summit, we
allowed our exhausted animals a moment's rest in the partial shade
of some straggling oaks, and contemplated, not without a feeling of
terror, the yawning gulph at our feet. This emotion was much enhanced
by reflecting, that a single misstep of a horse, or the sliding of
a fragment of stone in our narrow path, would have been sufficient
to have precipitated us into the abyss. We thus pursued our route,
marked out to us by the bisons, who always trace the most direct and
best course, until turning the side of a mountain[154] of moderate
elevation, the ocean of prairie again spread before us. This monotonous
plain, of which we had been hitherto so weary, now burst upon the
sight, and for a moment {208} exhibited a cheerful and pleasant
contrast to the rude mountain ruins, that we had with such toil and
hazard been clambering over. This charm was, however, soon to be
dispelled. On descending to the plain, it became as usual desirable to
find a good situation for an encampment, abounding with grass for the
horses, and convenient to a water course. For this purpose, one of the
party rode to a small line of timber about a mile on our left, which
ran in a parallel direction to our line of march. He overtook us again
at the distance of two or three miles, having discovered a copious
stream of water. It was about three miles below the point at which the
water had been discovered that we gained the line of timber, only to
experience the mortification of disappointment in finding a naked bed
of sand, the stream having, no doubt, sunk into the earth some distance
above. We had, therefore, to undergo the pains of abstinence still
longer, until we again sought the timber further below, where the water
had reappeared on the surface.

[153] Probably one of the branches of Cheyenne Creek.—ED.

[154] Cheyenne Mountain(?).—ED.

Near this encampment, we first observed the great shrubby cactus[155]
which forms so conspicuous a feature in the vegetable physiognomy of
the plains of the Arkansa. Its trunk is six or eight feet in height,
and at the root five or six inches in diameter. It is much branched,
the ultimate divisions consisting of long cylindric articulations. The
flowers are as large as those of the C. ferox, of a purple colour, and
are placed on the ends of the articulations. These last are arranged
somewhat in whorls about the ends of the smaller branches. The surface
of every part of the plant, aside from its terrific armature of thorns,
is marked by little prominences of near an inch in length, and about
one-fourth of an inch in breadth, rising considerably, and bearing
a cluster of radiating spines. These are of various lengths, one
pointing {209} obliquely upward, being commonly much the largest. At
their insertion, these thorns are surrounded by pungent setæ in the
manner of C. ferox. The whole plant is so thickly beset with strong
spines pointing in every direction, that no large animal can approach
it unharmed. It does not form thickets, but each plant is a cluster
by itself; and when first seen at a distance, they were mistaken for
bisons. We were informed by one of our engagees, who had penetrated the
Spanish provinces as far as Monterey, that this plant is common there,
and its fruit much esteemed. The nopals are considered characteristic
of warm and dry climates, like those of Egypt and California.[156]
Perhaps there is no part of the world where plants of this family
constitute so large a proportion of the vegetable products of the soil,
as in the arid plains of the Arkansa. These plains are sufficiently
dry; but like those of the Platte and Upper Missouri, where cacti are
almost equally abundant, they are visited by very severe cold in winter.

[155] Cactus cylindricus of Humboldt.—JAMES.

[156] Humboldt's Personal Narrative, vol. i. p. 362. Philadelphia

Another highly interesting plant, which occurs in the most barren
and desolate parts of the plain, is a cucurbitaceous vine resembling
some of our common squashes, bearing a small pepo, which is round and
smooth, and as large as an orange. It is perennial, having a somewhat
lignous root four or five inches in diameter, and descending often more
than four feet into the earth. We were so fortunate as to meet with it
in flower, and also with ripened fruit. It has the acutely margined
seed of the genus cucumis, but in other respects is closely allied
to cucurbita.[157] In addition to these, we collected the zigadenus
elegans, Ph., asclepias tuberosa, and some others.

[157] _Cucumis perennis_, S.—Calyx, seated upon the germ, rugose,
coloured campanulate, exterior divisions subulate.

Masc. Three filaments, short, closely covering the central disc. Fœm.
Style short, stigmas three bipartite.

Fruit. Pome large, orbicular, smooth, about four celled seeds,
ovate, gibbous, margin acute; dissepiments torn, spongy; seeds in
a double order; leaves alternate, triangularly cordate, margin
undulate, tendrils axillary trichotomous; stems numerous, procumbent,
grooved; flowers nearly as large as those of Cucurbita _pepo_; fruit
round, smooth, and green, nearly sessile, resembling a small unripe
water-melon. The leaves are rough, of a glaucous green colour, bitter
and nauseous to the taste, and the whole plant emits a fœtid odour.

Root fusiform, very large, six feet in length, and often four inches
in diameter, descending perpendicularly into the earth. It inhabits
the arid and sandy wastes, along the base of the Rocky Mountains, from
the confluence of the Arkansa, and Boiling Spring Fork, to the sources
of Red River. By means of its long and somewhat succulent root it is
peculiarly adapted to the soil it occupies, and is found to thrive
with considerable vigour in wastes whose thirsty and burning soils
bid defiance to almost every other vegetable. It flowers in July, and
continues flowering and perfecting fruit during the summer. Some plants
of this interesting species are growing in the garden of the University
of Philadelphia, from seeds brought by Major Long, but they have not
yet flowered. The leaves are thick and robust, from six to eight inches
long, and four or five in width, on foot-stalks equalling the leaves
in length; they are crowded along the stems, and usually stand erect.
It does not appear that any insect or animal preys upon the leaves or
other parts of this plant. It forms, by its deep green, a striking
contrast to the general aspect of the regions it inhabits, which are
exceedingly naked and barren.

This plant has been mentioned by Mr. Brackenridge, from the information
of hunters, but no detailed account of it has hitherto been given. The
annexed figure is from a drawing by Mr. Peale, made of the plant in
its native locality. The petioles and the extremities of the stems are
usually affected with morbid enlargements, resembling galls. They may
perhaps be caused by the irritation of the intense reflected light and
heat of the sun, in the situations where the plant usually grows. In
the gardens it has not hitherto produced these enlargements.—JAMES.

From an elevated ridge which we passed in the morning, some bisons had
been seen, at the distance {210} of five miles; and as we were in want
of game, Mr. Peale, with two hunters, rode forward in the pursuit of
them. They overtook the herd near a small creek, and attacked one of
the largest, which was at length killed. In examining the body, it was
found twenty balls had entered in different parts before the animal
fell. They arrived at camp, bringing the meat, at a little after noon.

The small stream on which we encamped had some timber along its valley.
In this, four deer had been killed; so that we now had provisions in
great plenty.[158]

[158] 1. _Fringilla psaltria_, SAY.—A very pretty little bird, was
frequently seen hopping about in the low trees or bushes, singing
sweetly, somewhat in the manner of the American gold-finch, or
Hemp-bird (Fringilla tristis). The tints, and the distribution of the
colours of its plumage resemble, in a considerable degree, those of the
autumnal and less brilliant vesture of that well-known species. It may,
however, be distinguished, in addition to other differences, by the
black tip of its tail-feathers, and the white wing spot.

The _head_ is capped with black; the _cheeks_ are dusky; the _bill_
yellow, with a black tip; _iris_ burnt umber; _neck_ above, and half
its side, _back_, and _rump_ olivaceous, more or less intermixed with
dusky; _smaller wing coverts_ blackish, edged with olivaceous; _greater
wing coverts_ brown-black, tipped with white, forming a narrow band;
_primaries_ fuscous, and, excepting the exterior one, slightly edged
with white; third, fourth, and fifth feathers white towards the base,
so as to exhibit a white spot beyond the wing coverts; _secondaries_
margined with white exteriorly towards their tips: _tail coverts_
black, varied with olivaceous on their shafts; _tail_ emarginate,
feathers blackish, slightly edged with dull whitish; the three
exterior ones pure white on their inner webs, excepting at base and
tip; all _beneath_ yellow; _feet_ pale. A specimen is deposited in the
Philadelphia Museum.

2. _Fringilla frontalis_, SAY.—Crimson-necked Finch. _Head_, _throat_,
_neck beneath_, and _upper portion of the breast_ brilliant crimson,
most intense near the bill and over the eyes; _rump_ and _tail coverts_
paler crimson; between the bill and the eye grey; _bill_ dark horn
colour, lower mandible paler; _vertex_, _occiput_, _neck above_ and
_each side_ brown, tinged with reddish, the feathers margined with
pale; _back_ dusky brownish; _wings_ and _tail_ fuscous, the latter
feathers edged on the inner side with white; the _primaries_ broadly
margined within, towards the base, with white, and exteriorly edged
with a grayish; _coverts_ and _tertials_ edged with dull grayish;
_inferior portion of the breast_, the _belly_, and _vent_ whitish, each
feather with a broad fuscous line.

_Female_, dusky brown, the feathers margined each side with dull
whitish; wings fuscous, the margining and edging of the feathers not
as distinct as in the male; all _beneath_, excepting the tail and wing
feathers, whitish, each feather with a brown streak.

This bird is much more closely allied, both in size and colouring, to
the purple Finch (F. purpurea) than to the crimson-headed Finch (F.
rosea), and may prove to be only a variety of it, when a comparison
of many individuals can be made. The male, from which the above
description is drawn out, may not be in its ultimate state of plumage,
as it seems probable that the middle of the head, the upper part of the
neck, and the back, in the perfect plumage, is more obviously tinted
with crimson than we have observed those parts to be. It differs,
however, from the _Purple Finch_ in the tint of the crimson colour,
which is far more lively and brilliant, and also in having each feather
of the belly, vent, and inferior tail coverts broadly streaked with
brown. We apply to it provisionally the name of _F. frontalis_. A
prepared specimen of this bird is in the Philadelphia Museum.—JAMES.

From this camp we had a distinct view of the part of the mountains
called by Captain Pike the highest peak. It appeared about twenty miles
distant, towards the north-west.[159] Our view was cut off from the
base by an intervening spur of less elevation; but all the upper part
of the peak was visible, with patches of snow extending down to the
commencement of the woody region.

[159] Having followed in general the course of Cheyenne Creek, the
party must have encamped a short distance south of the site of Colorado
Springs, where the stream flows into Fountain Creek. From this point
there is a magnificent view of Pike's Peak, which Pike himself usually
called Grand Peak. His estimate of the height was 18,581 feet; the
error was due partially to his assumption of the excessive elevation of
8,000 feet for the plain at the base. See the estimate of Lieutenant
Swift, in succeeding volume, note 11.—ED.

At about one o'clock P. M. a dense black cloud was seen to collect in
the south-west; and advancing towards the peak, it remained nearly
stationary over that part of the mountains, pouring down torrents of
rain. The thunder was loud and frequent; and though little rain fell
near our camp, the creek soon began to swell; and before sunset it had
risen about six feet, and again subsided nearly to its former level.
When the stream began to rise, it was soon covered with such a quantity
of bison's dung, suddenly washed in from the declivities of the
mountains and the plains at its base, that the water could scarcely be
seen. About this time our cook filled his kettle, and put into it the
meat intended for supper; but when the soup was brought to our tent,
the flavour of the cow-yard was found so prevalent, and the meat so
filled with sand, that very little could be eaten.

{211} As one of the objects of our excursion was to ascertain the
elevation of the peak, it was determined to remain in our present camp
for three days, which would afford an opportunity for some of the party
to ascend the mountain.



A Catalogue of the Names of Animals, which we observed at Engineer
Cantonment, or at other indicated places, on our journey to that post.


  _Vespertilio novaboracensis, L._—New-York bat.

  —— _Carolinus, Geoff._—Carolina bat.

  _Scalops aquaticus_—Mole.

  _Ursus Americanus_, (_gularis, Geoff._)—Black bear.

  _Procyon lotor_—Racoon.

  _Taxus labradoricus_—Badger.

  _Mustela minx_—Mink.

  —— _vison_.

  _Mephitis putorius (chinche, Buff. Cuv.)_—Skunk.

  _Lutra (mustela lutra Braziliensis, Gm. Cuv.)_—Otter.

  _Canis_—Indian dog.

  —— _lycaon_—Black wolf.

  —— _virginianus_—Red fox.

  —— _cinereo-argenteus_—Gray fox.

  _Felis concolor_—Cougar.

  —— _rufa_—Bay lynx.

  _Didelphius virginiana_—Opossum.

  _Castor fiber_—Beaver.

  _Ondatra Zibethicus_—Musk-rat.

  _Gerbillus Canadensis_—Leaping-mouse.

  _Arctomys monax_—Maryland marmot.

  _Mus agrarius?_—Rustic mouse.

  _Arvicola Zanthognatha, Leach_—Meadow mouse (on the Ohio).

  {262} _Mus musculus_—introduced by our expedition.

  _Pseudostoma bursaria_—Pouched rat.

  _Sciurus cinereus_—Gray squirrel.

  —— _capistratus_—White-nosed   do.

  —— _striatus_—Ground           do.

  —— _nigra_—Black               do.

  _Lepus Americanus_—Rabbit.

  _Cervus major_—Elk.

  —— _Virginianus_—Virginian deer.

  _Antilocapra Americana, Ord._—Prong-horned antelope.

  _Bos bison, Gmel._—Bison.


  _Vultur (Cathartes Illig.) aura_—Turkey buzzard.

  _Falco (Haliœtus, Sav.) leucocephalus_—Bald eagle.

  —— _(Pandion, Sav.) haliætus?_—Fish-hawk.

  —— _(Accipitur, V.) ruficaudus, Vieil. (F. Borealis, L. Wilson)
      _—American buzzard, Lath.

  —— _(Circus, Bech.) uliginosus_—Marsh-hawk.

  —— _Buteo (galinivorus, Vieil.)_—Great hen, H.

  —— _(Milvus, Bech.) furcatus_—Swallow-tailed falcon, Lath.

  —— _(Tinnunculus, Vieil.) sparverius_—American sparrow-hawk.

  —— _(Aquila, Briss.) fulvus_—Ring-tailed eagle, Wilson;
      war-eagle of the Omawhaws.

  —— _lineatus, Gm. Wils._—Red-shouldered hawk. Mississippi.

  —— _Mississippiensis, Wilson_—Mississippi kite.

  —— _velox, Wilson_—Sharp-shinned hawk.

  —— _Pennsylvanicus, Wilson_—Slate-coloured hawk.

  _Strix (Otus, Cuv.) otus_—Long-eared owl.

  ——    _( do.  do. ) Virginiana_—Virginian-eared owl, Lath.

  ——    _( do.  do. ) asio_—Red-eared owl, Lath.—Screech-owl.

  {263} _Strix (Ulula, Cuv.) nebulosa_—Barred-owl, Lath.

  —— _(Noctna, Savig.) phalænoides, Dand. Vieil._

  —— _(  do.    do.  ) passerina, Wilson._

  —— _(  do.    do.  ) Hudsonia_—Hawk-owl, Wilson.

  —— _(  Bubo, Cuv.  ) bubo_—Great owl.

  _Lanius borealis, Vieil._—Great American shrike, Wilson.

  _Tanagra Ludoviciani, Wils._—Louisiana tanager.

  —— _rubra_—Scarlet tanager.

  _Musicapa (Tyrannus, Cuv.) pipiri, Vieil._—Tyrant fly-catcher,

  —— _(Tyrannus, Cuv.) Ludovicianus_—Louisiana fly-catcher, Lath.

  —— _Canadensis, Gm. Wilson._—Canada fly-catcher.

  —— _(Icteria, Vieil. pipra. Wilson,) viridis, L._
      —Yellow-breasted chat, Wils.

  —— _cantatrix Bartram, Wils._—White-eyed fly-catcher.

  —— _(Mucipeta, Cuv.) ruticilla_—American red-start, Wilson.

  —— _olivacea_—Red-eyed fly-catcher, Wils.

  —— _novaboracensis, Gm._—Green black-capt fly-catcher, Wilson.

  —— _fusca_—Pewee fly-catcher, Wilson.

  _Ampelis (Bombycivora, Temm.) Carolinensis, Briss._—Cedar-bird,

  _Turdus rufus_—Ferruginous thrush.

  —— _felivox, Vieil._—Catbird.

  —— _fuscus_—Brown thrush.

  —— _pollyglottus_—Mocking bird.

  —— _aurocapillus_—Golden crowned thrush.

  —— _migratorius_—Red-breasted thrush.

  —— _aquaticus, Wils._—Water thrush.

  _Sylvia solitaria, Wils._—Blue-winged yellow warbler.

  —— _sialis_—Blue bird.

  —— _striata, Wilson_—Black poll warbler.

  {264} _Sylvia Ludoviciana, L._—Blue yellow-backed warbler, Wilson.

  —— (_Troglodites, Cuv.) troglodites? Wilson_—Winter wren.

  —— _azurea, Steph. cœrulea, Wils._-Cœrulean warbler.

  —— _æstiva, Lath._

  _Certhia Caroliniana, Lath. Wils._—Great Carolina wren.

  —— _palustris, Wils._—Marsh wren.

  _Hirundo Americanus_—Barn swallow, Wilson.

  —— _riparia_—Bank do.

  —— _pelasgia_—Chimney do.

  —— _purpurea_—Purple martin.

  _Caprimulgus Virginianus, L._—Whip-poor-will.

  —— _porpetue, Vieil._—Night hawk.

  _Alauda alpestris, L. Wils._—Shore lark.

  —— _rubra_—Red lark.

  _Parus atricapillus_—Black capped titmouse.

  _Emberzia Americana, L. Wils._—Black throated bunting.

  _Fringilla (Ploceus, Cuv.) erythrocephala_—Towhee bunting.

  —— _socialis, Wilson._—Chipping sparrow.

  —— _oryzivora_—Rice bird.

  —— _pecora, Wils. (Emberiza)_—Cow bird.

  —— _(Cardualis, Cuv.) tristis_—Yellow bird.

  —— _melodia, Wilson._—Song sparrow.

  —— _purpurea_—Purple finch.

  —— _Hudsonia_—Snow bird.

  —— _(Linaria, Bech.) linaria_—Lesser red-poll.

  _Loxia (Vidua, Cuv.) cardinalis_—Cardinal gross beak.

  —— _(do. do.) Ludoviciana_—Rose-breasted gross beak.

  —— _(Corythus, Cuv.) enucleator_—Pine gross beak.

  —— _Curvirostra Americana, Wilson._—American gross beak.

  {265} _Gracula (Icterus, Cuv.) quiscala_—Purple grackle.

  _Oriolus (Zanthornus, Cuv.) phœniceus_—Red-winged starling, Wilson.

  —— _(Zanthornus, Cuv.) Baltimoreus_—Baltimore bird.

  —— _(do. do.) spurius_—Orchard oriole.

  —— _(do. do.) icterocephalus_—Yellow-headed oriole.

  _Sturnus Ludovicianus_—Meadow-lark, Wils. The S. torquatus of
      Stephens seems to be the male of this species.

  _Sitta Carolinensis_—White-breasted nuthatch, Wilson.

  —— _varira_—Red-bellied [nuthatch, Wilson].

  _Corvus corax_—Raven.

  —— _corone_—Crow.

  —— _(Pica, Cuv.) pica_—Magpie.

  —— _(Garrulus, Cuv.) cristatus_—Blue jay.

  _Trochilus colubris_—Ruby-throated humming-bird.

  _Alcedo alcyon_—Belted kingfisher.

  _Picus pileatus_—Pileated woodpecker, Lath.

  —— _erythrocephala_—Red-headed woodpecker.

  —— _auratus_—Gold-winged do.

  —— _pubescens_—Downy do.

  —— _villosus_—Hairy do.

  —— _Carolinus_—Red-bellied do.

  _Psittacus Carolinensis_—Caroline perroquet.

  _Meleagris gallipavo_—Turkey.

  _Tetrao cupido_—Pinnated grouse.

  —— _umbellus_—Ruffed do.

  —— _phasianellus_—Long-tailed grouse.

  —— _(Perdix) Virginianus_—Virginian partridge, Wilson.

  _Columba migratoria_—Passenger pigeon. (_C. Canadensis_
      is the female, Temm.)

  —— _Carolinensis_—Caroline pigeon or dove.

  _Charardrius vociferus_—Kildeer.

  {266} _Charardrius pluvialis_—Golden plover.

  _Ardea (Grus, Cuv.) Americanus_—Hooping crane.

  —— _(do. do.) Canadensis_—Sandhill do.

  —— _herodias_—Great heron.

  —— _virescens_—Green heron.

  —— _nycticorax_—Night-heron.

  _Numenius longirostra_—Long-billed curlew.

  _Scolopax minor_—Little woodcock.

  —— _(Totanus) semipalmata_—Willet.

  —— _(Totanus) melanoleucus, Vieil._—Stone curlew.

  —— _(do.) vociferus_—Telltale godwit.

  _Tringa solitaria, Wilson._—Solitary sandpiper.

  —— _Bartramia, Wilson._—Bartram's sandpiper.

  —— _semipalmata, Ord._—Semipalmated sandpiper.

  _Scolopax flavipes, Gm. Wils._—Yellow-shanks snipe.

  —— _fedoa, L. Wilson._—Great marbled godwit.

  _Recurvirostra Americana_—American avocet.

  _Colymbus glacialis_—Great northern diver.

  —— _(Podiceps, Lath.) cornutus_—Horned grebe.

  _Fulica Americana_—Common coot.

  _Larus ridibundus?_—Laughing gull.

  _Sterna aranea, Wilson._—Marsh tern.

  —— _minuta_—Lesser tern.

  _Pelecanus erythrorhynchos_—Rough-billed pelican.

  —— _fuscus_—Brown pelican.

  —— _(Phalacrocorax, Briss.) carbo_—Corvorant.

  _Anas (Cygnus, Meyer) cygnus_—Swan.

  —— _(do.) Canadensis_—Canada goose.

  —— _(Anser, Briss.) hyperborea_—Snow goose.

  —— _(do.) bernicla?_—Barnacle goose.

  —— _(do.) albifrons_—White-fronted goose.

  {267} _Anas discors_—Blue-winged teal.

  —— _albeola_—Buffle-headed duck.

  —— _boschus_—Wild duck.

  —— _sponsa_—Summer duck.

  —— _marila_—Scaup duck.

  —— _acuta_—Pin-tailed duck.

  —— _glacialis_—Long-tailed duck.

  —— _clangula_—Golden-eye.

  —— _Americana_—American widgeon.

  _Mergus serrator_—Red-breasted merganser.

  —— _cucullatus_—Hooded do.


  _Testudo clausa._—This is our common land tortoise. It
  rarely, if ever, enters the water voluntarily, and is therefore
  decidedly terrestrial.

  _Testudo (Emys, Brogni.) geographica, Lesueur._

  —— _     (  do.    do. ) serpentaria_—Serpent tortoise.

  —— _(Trionix, Geoff.) ferox_—Fierce tortoise.

  _Lacerta (Agama) undulata, Daud._

  —— _(Scincus) 5-lineatus._

  _Coluber constrictor_—Racer.

  —— _ordinatus_—Garter snake.

  —— _heterodon_—Hog-nose snake.

  _Crotalus horridus, L._—Banded rattlesnake.

  —— _durissus, L._—Diamond rattlesnake.

  _Rana pipiens, Daud. (R. Catesbeana, Shaw.)_—Bull-frog—Ohio.

  _Rana helecina, Kalm. Daud. (R. pipiens, Schreb.

  _Rana clamata, Daud._

—— _(Hyla) occulars, Daud._—On the Ohio, near Shippingsport. This
species is subject to vary considerably. In addition to the lateral
vitta, it has sometimes three dorsal vittæ: other specimens have a
remarkable cruciform mark on the back.

  _Rana (Hyla) femoralis, Daud._—Ohio.

  —— _(Bufo) musicus_—Common toad.

  {268} _Salamandra subviolacea, Barton_—near Shippingsport.

  —— _longicauda, Green_—near Pittsburgh.

  —— _rubra, Daud._—Ohio.

  —— _cinerea, Green_—near Shippingsport.

  —— _(Triton, Laur.) Alleganiensis (Salam.
  gigantea, Barton)_—Pittsburgh.

The following observations were made, relative to the arrival and
departure of birds at Engineer Cantonment. A few notes are added, which
were made at Pittsburgh and other places.

  _Vultur aura_—Arrived April 2. 1820. On the Ohio,
  observed May 9. 1819.

  _Falco haliœtus_—Flying north May 17. 1820.

  —— _furcatus_—Was seen             20.

  The Falco and Strix families generally winter here.

  _Tanagra rubra_—Arrived May 1. 1820. At Pittsburgh,
      arrived April 29. 1819.

  _Muscicapa olivacea_ arrived April 30. 1820.

  —— _cantatrix_—                 30.

  —— _ruticilla_—                 28. 1820. On the Ohio,
      observed May 8. 1819.

  _Muscicapa fusca_ arrived March 22. 1820.

  —— _pipiri_—           May 7. 1820. On the Ohio,
      observed May 8. 1819.

  _Turdus fuscus_ arrived April 28. At Pittsburgh the 14th.

  _Turdus aurocapillus_ arrived April 26. 1820.

  —— _aquaticus_—                  26.

  —— _migratorius_—                11.

  —— _felivox_ observed on the Ohio, May 8. 1819.

  —— _rufus_      do.      do.           2. 1820.

  _Certhia palustris_ arrived April 15. 1820.

  _Sylvia striata_       —         26.

  —— _azurea_          —         28.

  —— _sialis_—a few remain all winter.

  _Hirundo pelasgia_ arrived May 1. 1820. At Pittsburgh,
  arrived April 27. 1819.

  {269} _Hirundo purpurea_ arrived March 30. 1820. At
  Pittsburgh, April 14. 1819.

  _Hirundo Americana_—At Pittsburgh, arrived April 21.

  _Caprimulgus Virginianus_ arrived April 19. 1820. At
  Pittsburgh, heard May 5. 1819.

  _Caprimulgus porpetue_ arrived May 16. 1820. On the
  Ohio, observed May 6. 1819.

  _Caprimulgus rufus, Vieil._—heard on the Ohio, June
  2. 1819.

  _Parus articapillus_—all winter.

  _Fringilla erythrocephala_ arrived March 22. 1819.

  —— _purpurea_                seen Feb. 28.

  —— _Hudsonica_         departing April 11.

  —— _oryzivora_             arrived May 14.

  —— _linaria_                  —   Feb. 1.

  —— _tristis_ remains during the winter.

  _Loxia Ludoviciana_, observed May 1. and 6. 1819.

  —— _Americana_         —   Feb. 21. 1819.

  —— _cardinalis_—on the Ohio, May 8. 1819.

  —— _enuncleator_—occasionally seen during the winter.

  _Oriolus icterocephalus_, observed May 14. 1820.

  —— _phœniceus_          —    March 1.

  —— _Baltimoreus_, observed near Pittsburgh, April 29. 1819.

  _Sturnus Ludovicianus_ arrived April 5. 1820.

  _Sitta Carolinensis_ remains all winter.

  _Corvus pica_ retired northward, March 23. 1820.

  —— _corax_—the young nearly able to fly, May 12. 1820.

  _Trochilus colubris_ arrived May 18. 1820. On the Ohio,
         May 6. 1819.

  _Alcedo alcyon_ arrived March 20. 1820.

  _Picus erythrocephalus_ arrived March 20. 1820.

  —— _auratus_ and some others remain all winter; but the
      _erythrocephalus_ is entirely migratory.

  _Picus pileatus_—seen Feb. 28. 1820.

  {270} _Psittacus Carolinensis_—seen several times during
      the winter: near Louisville, May 25. 1819.

  _Columba migratoria_ arrived May 2. 1820.

  —— _Carolinensis_ arrived April 30. 1820.

  _Ardea Americanus_ arrived March 19. 1820.

  —— _virescens_ seen on the Ohio May 6. 1819.

  —— _Canadensis arrived_ May 24. 1820.

  _Numenius longirostra_ arrived April 1. 1820. Was seen
      on the top of the Alleghany mountain March 24. 1819.

  _Curvirostra Americana_—seen Feb. 20. 1820.

  _Scolopax vociferus_ arrived March 19. 1820. At Pittsburgh,
      observed May 5. 1819.

  _Scolopax semipalmata_ arrived May 6. 1820.

  —— _minor_              —   April 8.

  _Tringa solitaria_—                 30. 1820. At Pittsburgh,
      observed May 15. 1819.

  _Colymbus cornutus_ arrived May 5. 1820.

  _Larus ridibundus_—in large flocks, flying northward,
      May 4. 1820. They were seen at Pittsburgh April 3. 1819.

  _Sterna minuta_ arrived April 2. 1820.

  _Pelecanus erythrorhynchos_ arrived April 8. 1820.

  —— _carbo_ arrived April 10. 1820. At Pittsburgh,
      arrived May 5. 1819.

  _Anas cygnus_—flying to the north Feb. 22. 1820.

  —— _canadensis_ do.        do.        21.

  —— _acuta_ shot                       28.

  —— _Americana_ shot              March 3.

  —— _sponsa_, with their young, May 30. 1819.

The great emigration of geese, swans, ducks, and cranes, commenced on
the 22d of February, and terminated the latter end of March, 1820.



1. _Sun_—The fore-finger and thumb are brought together at tip, so as
to form a circle, and held up towards the sun's track. To indicate
any particular time of the day, the hand with the sign of the sun, is
stretched out towards the east horizon, and then gradually elevated, to
show the ascent of that luminary, until the hand arrives in the proper
direction, to indicate the part of the heavens in which the sun will be
at the given time.

2. _Night, or sleeping_—The head, with the eyes closed, is laterally
inclined for a moment upon the hand. As many times as this is repeated,
so many nights are indicated; very frequently the sign of the sun is
traced over the heavens, from east to west, to indicate the lapse of a
day, and precedes the motion; it also precedes the following following—

3. _Darkness_—The hands extended horizontally forwards, and back
upwards, pass one over the other, two or three times touching it.

4. _Combat_—The clenched hands are held about as high as the neck, and
five or six inches asunder, then waved two or three times laterally,
to show the advances and retreats of the combatants; after which the
fingers of each hand are suffered to spring from the thumb towards each
other, as in the act of sprinkling water, to represent the flight of

5. _Prisoner_—The fore finger and thumb of the left hand are held in
the form of a semicircle, opening towards and near the breast, and the
fore finger {272} of the right representing the prisoner, is placed
upright within the curve, and passed from one side to another, in order
to show that it will not be permitted to pass out.

6. _Man_—A finger held vertically.

7. _Seeing_—The fore-finger, in the attitude of pointing, is passed
from the eye towards the real or imaginary object.

8. _Seen, or discovered_—The sign of a man, or other animal, is made;
after which the finger is pointed towards, and approached to your own
eye; it is the preceding sign reversed.

9. _Entering a house or lodge_—The left hand is held with the back
upward, and the right hand also with the back up, is passed in a
curvilinear direction down under the other, so as to rub against its
palm, then up on the other side of it. The left hand here represents
the low door of the skin lodge, and the right, the man stooping down to
pass in.

10. _Theft_—The left fore-arm is held horizontally, a little forward
or across the body, and the right hand passing under it with a quick
motion, seems to grasp something, and is suddenly withdrawn.

11. _Hunting_—The fore-finger is brought near the eye, and placed in
the attitude of pointing; it is then wagged from side to side, the eye
following its devious motion, and seeming to look in the direction
indicated. Sometimes the hand is extended far before the eye, and the
same motion is given to the finger.

12. _Pretty_—The fingers and thumb, so opposed as to form a curve, are
passed over the face nearly touching it, from the forehead to the chin,
then add the sign of _Good_, No. 42.

13. _Eating_—The fingers and thumb are brought together in opposition
to each other, into something of a wedge shape, and passed to and from
the mouth four or five times within the distance of three or four {273}
inches of it, to imitate the action of food passing to the mouth.

14. _Drinking, or water_—The hand is partially clenched, so as to have
something of a cup shape; and the opening between the thumb and finger
is raised to the mouth, as in the act of drinking. If the idea of water
only is to be conveyed, the hand does not stop at the mouth, but is
continued above it.

15. _Enough, or a bellyful_—The sign for eating is first made; then
the fore finger and thumb are opposed to each other so as to form a
semicircular curve, which is elevated along the body from the belly to
the neck, in order to indicate that the interior is filled with food up
to that part.

16. _Squaw_—The hands are passed from the top down each side of the
head, indicating the parting of the hair on the top, and its flowing
down each side.

17. _The discharging of a gun_—Is indicated by slapping the back of the
right hand, partially closed, into the palm of the left.

18. _Death_—By throwing the fore finger from the perpendicular into a
horizontal position towards the earth, with the back downwards.

19. _Killing_—The hands are held with the edge upwards, and the right
hand strikes the other transversely, as in the act of chopping. This
sign seems to be more particularly applicable to convey the idea of
death, produced by a blow of the tomahawk or war-club.

20. _Bison_—The two fore fingers are placed near the ears, projecting,
so as to represent the horns of the animal.

21. _Surrounding the bison_—The sign No. 20 is first made; the hands,
with the fore fingers and thumbs in a semicircle, are then brought two
or three times together.

22. _Discharging the arrow_—The hands are placed {274} as in the
attitude of drawing the arrow in the bow, (this is also the sign for
the bow) and its departure is indicated by springing the fingers from
the thumbs, as in the act of sprinkling water.

23. _To speak_—The motion is like sprinkling water from the mouth by
springing the fore finger from the thumb, the hand following a short
distance from the mouth at each resilience, to show the direction of
the word, or to whom it is addressed; this motion is repeated three or
four times.

24. _Haranguing_—The above motion repeated rapidly, the hand at each
motion pursuing a different direction, to show that the talk is
addressed to various persons.

25. _Quantity, or great number_—The hands and arms are passed in a
curvilinear direction outwards and downwards, as if we were showing the
form of a large globe; then the hands are closed and elevated, as if
something was grasped in each hand, and held up about as high as the

26. _Exchange_—The two fore fingers are extended perpendicularly, and
the hands are then passed by each other transversely in front of the
breast, so as nearly to exchange positions.

27. _Inquiry_—The hand held up with the thumb near the face, and the
palm directed towards the person of whom the inquiry is making; it is
then rotated upon the wrist two or three times edgewise, to denote

28. _Truth_—The fore finger passed, in the attitude of pointing, from
the mouth forward in a line curving a little upward, the other fingers
being carefully closed.

29. _Lie_—The fore and middle fingers extended, passed two or three
times from the mouth forward; they are joined at the mouth, but
separate as they depart from it, indicating that the words go in
different directions.

{275} 30. _It is so_—The motion is somewhat like 28., but the finger
is held rather more upright, and is passed nearly straight forward
from opposite the breast; and when at the end of its course, it seems
gently to strike something, though with a rather slow and not suddenly
accelerated motion.

31. _Sit down_—The fist is clenched, and the motion of it is then the
same as if it held a staff, and gently stamped it upon the earth two or
three times.

32. _Travelling with great rapidity_—The hands are held edge up,
extended forward and a little sideways, one in advance of the other,
though parallel; they then are agitated a little in the manner of a
fan, though with a much more rapid and not so wide a motion, the arms
being at rest.

33. _Running_—The arm nearly doubled upon itself, and then the elbow
thrown forward and backward, as in the act of running.

34. _Riding on horseback_—The index and middle finger of the right hand
are straddled over the left index finger, representing the rider and
the horse; these are then jolted forward, to represent the trotting
motion of the horse.

35. _Knife_—Hold the left hand clenched near the mouth, as if it held
one end of a strip of meat, the other end of which was between the
teeth; then pass the edge of the right hand, as in the act of cutting,
obliquing a little upwards from right to left between the other hand
and mouth, so as to appear to divide the supposed meat.

36. _Awl_—The left fore finger is extended, and the right, also
extended, is placed across it, and is then turned on its axis, so as to
imitate the action of the awl in making a hole.

37. _My offspring_—If an Indian wishes to tell you that an individual
present is his offspring, he points to the person; and then, with the
finger still extended, {276} passes it forward from his loins in a line
curving downwards; then slightly upwards; sometimes saying, "That is my
child, _illum minxi_." Dashinga-shinga-we-weet-tah-ohn-na-je.

38. _Strength_—The hands are clenched; the left fore arm is held almost
perpendicularly near the breast, so that the fist is nearly opposite
to the throat; the right arm is then carried up between the left and
the breast, and continued on over the left fist to the outside of the
latter; the right arm is then brought down so as to have the same
direction with the other, and the fists rest opposite to each other,
in a line with the breast. This motion resembles the act of wringing a
thick towel. If he would say, "I am strong," he strikes himself upon
the breast two or three times with his fist, previously to the motion
above described. If he would say, "You are strong," he previously
points to you, &c.

39. _Fire_—The act of striking fire with the flint and steel is
represented; after which the ascent of the smoke is indicated, by
closing the fingers and thumb of the right hand, holding them in a
vertical position, with the hand as low as convenient; the hand is then
gradually elevated, and the fingers and thumb a little expanded, to
show the ascent and expansion of the volume of smoke.

40. _Rabbit_—The fore and little fingers of the right hand are
extended, representing the ears of the animal; the hand is then bobbed
forward to show the leaping motion of the animal.

41. _Deer_—The fore finger of the right hand is extended vertically,
with the back towards the breast; it is then turned from side to side,
to imitate the motion of the tail of the animal when he walks at his

42. _Good_—The hand held horizontally, back upwards, describes with the
arm a horizontal curve outwards.

{277} 43. _Be quiet, or be not alarmed, or have patience_—The palm of
the hand is held towards the person.

45. _I will kill you_—Direct the right hand towards the offender, and
spring the fingers from the thumb, as in the act of sprinkling water.

46. _Fish_—Hold the upper edge of the hand horizontally, and agitate it
in the manner of a fan, but more rapidly, in imitation of the motion of
the tail of the fish.

47. _Poor_—The two fore fingers extended, with the right, as if it
was a knife, imitate the motion of cutting the flesh off of the left
finger, beginning towards the tip, and cutting with a quick motion
directed towards the base; at the same time turn the left finger a
little round, so as to expose the different parts to the action of
cutting; intimating that the flesh has diminished from starvation.

48. _House or lodge_—The two hands are reared together in the form of
the roof of a house, the ends of the fingers upward.

49. _Husband, companion, or in company_—The two fore fingers are
extended and placed together, with their backs upward.

50. _Snow_—The hand is held up about as high as the head, with the
fingers suffered to dangle downwards; it is then bobbed a little up and
down, as if to throw off drops from the ends of the fingers.

51. _Rain_—The sign for _water_ (No. 14.) precedes that for _snow_.

52. _Robe_—The hands are placed near the shoulders, as if holding the
ends of the robe, and then crossed, as if drawing the robe tight around
the shoulders.

53. _The coming of a person from a distance_—Place the fore finger in a
vertical position, with the arm extended towards the point from which
the person came, or is to come; then bring it gradually near the {278}
body, but not in contact with it; or if he continued on, carry it in
the direction he passed.

54. _Snake_—The fore finger is extended horizontally, and passed along
forward in a serpentine line. This is also used to indicate the Snake
nation of Indians.

55. _Crow nation of Indians_—The hands held out each side, and striking
the air in the manner of flying.

56. _Light_—Make the sign of the sun in the eastern horizon, and then
extend the hands together, with the palm upwards, and carry them from
each other outwards.

57. _Flat-head nation_—One hand placed on the top of the head, and the
other on the back of the head.

58. _Pierced-nose nation_—The finger extended, pass it horizontally by
the nostrils.

59. _Trade_—First make the sign of _exchange_, (No. 26.) then pat the
left arm with the right finger, with a rapid motion from the hand
passing it towards the shoulder.

60. _Sioux nation_—The edge of the hand passed across the throat, as in
the act of cutting that part.

61. _Black-foot nation_—The finger and thumb encircle the ancle.

62. _Arrapaho nation_—The fingers of one hand touch the breast in
different parts, to indicate the tattooing of that part in points.

63. _Carrying a pack_—The hands are placed each side of the head, as if
they held the strap of the _hoppas_, which passes round the forehead,
in order to relieve that part, by supporting a portion of the weight of
the burden; with this motion, two or three slight inclinations of the
head and corresponding movements of the hands are also made.

64. _Pretty_—Another sign, beside that marked {279} No. 43., is the
following: curve the fore finger of the right hand, and place the tip
on the ridge of the nose between the eyes, so as to represent a high
Roman nose; then bring down the hand in a curvilinear manner, until the
wrist touches the breast; after which add the sign, No. 42.

65. _No, not, or none_—The hand waved outwards, with the thumb upward.
For yes, see No. 30.

66. _Destroyed, or all gone, no more_—The hands held horizontally, and
the palms rubbed together, two or three times round; the right hand is
then carried off from the other, in a short horizontal curve.

67. _Anger_—The fingers and thumb of the right hand, with the ends
together, and near the breast; then turn the hand round two or three
times, so as to describe verticle circles; indicating that the heart is

68. _Dissatisfaction, or discontent_—The extended finger placed
transversely before the situation of the heart, rotate the wrist two or
three times gently, forming a quarter of a circle each time.

69. _Indecision_—The index and middle fingers extended and diverged,
place them transversely before the situation of the heart, and rotate
the wrist two or three times gently, forming each time a quarter of a

70. _Fool_—The finger is pointed to the forehead, and the hand is then
held vertically above the head, and rotated on the wrist two or three

71. _Swiftness_—The two index fingers are held parallel together, and
pointing forward; the right one is then passed rapidly forward.

72. _Shienne nation_—With the index finger of the right hand proceed as
if cutting the left arm in different places, with a sawing motion from
the wrist upwards, to represent the cuts or burns on the arms of that

73. _Left-handed_—The left hand clenched is held {280} up before the
neck; the elbow is then brought in to the side, at the same time giving
to the fore-arm a twist, so as to bring the closed palm opposite the

74. _I do not understand_—The fingers and thumb of the right hand
brought together near their tips, and then approached and receded to
and from the ear two or three times, with a quick motion, made within
the distance of two or three inches; finish with the sign, No. 65.

75. _I understand_—The same sign with the preceding, excepting the
No. 65., which is omitted. The motion of the fingers is designed to
represent the sound entering the ear.

76. _Love or affection_—The clenched hand pressed hard upon the breast.

77. _Me (I)_—The clenched hand struck gently, and with a quick motion,
two or three times upon the breast. Or, the fingers brought together,
are placed perpendicularly upon the breast.

78. _You_—Is expressed by simply pointing at the persons, and the same
for other objects within view.

79. _Multitude_—First indicate a man, No. 6., or whatever object it may
be, and then the sign of a great many, No. 25.

80. _Opposite_—A clenched hand held up on each side of the head, at the
distance of a foot or more from it.

81. _Hill_—A clenched hand held up on the side of the head, at the
distance of a foot or more from it.

82. _River_—The hand, in the form of a scoop or ladle, is carried to
the mouth, as if conveying water, and then drawn along in a horizontal
line, with the edge downward, about the height of the breast.

83. _Counting, or enumeration_—The fingers or thumbs expanded, count
ten. In order to proceed with the enumeration by tens, the hands must
be {281} clenched; and if again expanded, it counts twenty, and so on,
the hands being clenched between every ten. In order to indicate the
digits, clench the hands, and extend the little finger of the left hand
for one; extend also the ring finger for two, and so on; the thumb
for five. These must remain extended, whilst the thumb of the right
is extended for six, &c. Any number within five, above any number of
tens, is indicated by clenching the left hand and crossing the right
over it, with the requisite number of fingers extended. For the number
of sixteen, exhibit the sign of ten, and then extend four fingers, and
the two thumbs in the order of enumeration; for seventeen, proceed by
extending the fore finger of the right hand, and so on to twenty. In
this manner any sum can be denoted, always holding the backs of the
hands upward. When enumerating a small number, where a considerable
exertion of the memory is requisite, the Indians extend the left
hand with the palm upward; whilst, with the index of the right, the
fingers are successively bent into the palm, beginning as before with
the little finger; and the greater difficulty in recalling to mind
the numbers or events, the more apparent resistance is offered to the
inflection of the finger.

84. _A Chief_—The fore finger of the right hand extended, pass it
perpendicularly downward; then turn it upward, and raise it in a right
line as high as the head.

85. _Bad_—Make the sign of _good_ (No. 42.), and then that of _not_
(No. 65.)

86. _Gun_—Hold out the left hand, as in the act of supporting the gun
when directed horizontally, and with the right appear to cock it.

87. _Gunpowder_—Appear to take up a pinch of the powder, and to rub it
between the finger and thumb; then turning the hand, spring the fingers
from the thumb upward, so as to represent the exploding of the powder.

{282} 88. _Ball, or bullet_—Make the sign of the exploding of the
powder; then grasp the fore finger of the hand with the remaining
fingers and thumb, so that the tip of it will so extend beyond them as
to represent the ball.

89. _Scissors_—With the fore and middle fingers, imitate the opening
and shutting of the blades of the scissors.

90. _Looking-glass_—The palm of the hand held before the face, the
fingers pointing upward.

91. _Writing_—The act of writing is imitated by the finger, in the palm
of the opposite hand.

92. _Brother_—The sign for a man (No. 6.), succeeded by placing the
ends of the fore and middle fingers of one hand together in the mouth.

93. _Sister_—The sign for a squaw (No. 16.); after which place the
fingers in the mouth, as in No. 92.

94. _Cold_—The arms, with clenched hands, held up before the breast,
thrown into a tremulous motion as if shivering with cold.

95. _Cowardice_—The head stooped down, and the arm thrown up to protect
it; a quick motion.

96. _Marching, or travelling moderately_—The hand held vertically as
high as the neck, with slightly divided fingers, and rocked edgewise
forward and backward upon the wrist, extending the arm a little
forwards. This sign resembles that for _inquiry_ (No. 27.), but differs
in the direction of the motion of the hand.

97. _The return of a party through fear_—Begin with the preceding
motion; then draw the tips of the fingers and thumb together, and
retreat the hand to the body.

98. _Hunting shirt_—The fore finger and thumb, so opposed as to form a
curve, are passed near the surface of the body, from the forehead to
the abdomen.

99. _Surprise or astonishment_—Is indicated by placing the hand upon
the mouth, to show that {283} language is inadequate to communicate
their sensations.

100. _Calumet dance_—The hand extended with the edge upward, and with
the arm waved sideways, with a motion like that of a swing.

101. _Beaver trap_—The two fore fingers brought suddenly together, in a
parallel manner, so as to represent the snapping of the steel trap.

102. _Stone_—Close the right hand, and strike the palm of the left hand
two or three times with it.

103. _Give it to me_—The hand extended in a pointing position towards
the object in request; then brought towards the body with the finger
raised vertically, and laid against the breast.

104. _Mountains_—When speaking of the Rocky Mountains, Tarrarecawaho
held up the fingers of his left hand, a little diverging from each
other; and to convey the idea of the streams flowing from them, he
placed the index finger of his right hand alternately between each two
of them, and drew it away in a serpentine manner.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following signs are extracted from an essay by William Dunbar,
Esq., published in the sixth volume of the Transactions of the American
Philosophical Society. It will be observed that some of them differ
essentially from those which we obtained, and that we have omitted ten
of them which correspond with those we have given.

_White_—With the under side of the fingers of the right hand rub gently
upon that part of the left hand which corresponds with the knitting of
the bones of the fore finger and thumb.

_Egg_—The right hand held up with the fingers and thumb extended, and
approaching each other as if holding an egg within.

_The same, or similar to what went before_—Place the two fore fingers
parallel to each other, and push them forward a little.

{284} _Snow_—Begin with the sign of rain, then the sign of air or cold,
and conclude with the sign of white.

_Ice_—Begin with the sign of water, then of cold, then the earth; and,
lastly, a stone, with the sign of sameness or similarity.

_Hail_—Begin with the sign of water, then the sign of cold, next the
sign of a stone, then the same, then the sign of white; and, lastly,
conclude, with the sign of an egg; all which, combined, give the idea
of hail.

_Frost_—Begin with the sign of water, then the sign of night or
darkness, then the sign of cold, then the sign of white; and, lastly,
the earth.

_Cloud_—Begin with the sign of water; then raise the two hands as high
as the forehead, and placing them with an inclination of 15°, let them
gently cross one another.

_Fire_—The two hands brought near the breast, touching or approaching
each other, and half shut; then moved outwards moderately quick, the
fingers being extended, and the hands a little separated at the same
time, as if to imitate the appearance of flame.

_Bring, fetch, or give me_—The hand half shut, with the thumbs pressing
against the fore finger, being first moderately extended either to the
right or left, is brought with a moderate jerk to the opposite side, as
if something was pulled along by the hand. Consequently, the sign of
water preceding this, would convey the expression, "Give me water."

_Earth_—The two hands open and extended, brought horizontally near each
other opposite to either knee, then carried to the opposite side, and
raised in a curve movement, until brought round and opposite to the

_Cold, or Air_—The right hand held perpendicularly upwards, and brought
forwards with a tremulous or vibratory motion, until it passes beyond
the face.

_Big, great, or large_—The two hands open, placed {285} wide apart on
each side of the body, and moved forwards.

_Fear, to be afraid, to cause fear_—The two hands, with the fingers
turned inwards, opposite to the lower ribs; then brought upwards with
a tremulous movement, as if to represent the common idea of the heart
rising up to the throat: the three last signs, placed in the order
given, would convey the idea of a violent hurricane.

_Moon_—The thumb and finger open are elevated towards the right ear;
this last sign is generally preceded by the sign of the night, or

_Heat_—The two hands raised as high as the head, and bending forwards
horizontally, with the points of the fingers curving a little downwards.

_Clear_—The hands are uplifted, and spread both ways from the head.

_Thunder_—The sign of rain, accompanied by the voice imitating the
rumbling sound of thunder.

_Lightning_—First, the sign of thunder; then open or separate the
hands; and, lastly, bring the right hand down towards the earth, in the
centre of the opening just made.

_Male and female_—Note: to distinguish between the male and female,
in all cases add for the male a fillip with the fore finger of the
right hand on the cheek; and, for the female, bring the two hands
open towards the breast, the fingers approaching, and then move them

_Dunghill fowl_—Bring the thumb and fingers of the right hand together;
and holding the hand moderately elevated, move it across, imitating the
motion of the head of a cock in walking.

_Turkey_—The open hands brought up opposite to the shoulders, and
imitating slowly the motion of the wings of a bird; to which add the
last sign.

{286} _Duck_—The last sign; then the sign of water; and, lastly, the
sign of swimming; which last is performed by the fore finger of the
right hand extended outwards, and moved to and fro.

_Horse_—The right hand, with the edge downwards, the fingers joined,
the thumb recumbent, extended forwards.

_Deer_—The right hand extended upwards by the right ear, with a quick
puff from the mouth.

_Man_—With the fore finger of the right hand extended, and the hand
shut, describe a line, beginning at the pit of the stomach, and passing
down the middle of the body as far as the hand conveniently reaches,
holding the hand a moment between the lower extremities.

_Woman_—The finger and thumb of the right hand partly open, and placed
as if laying hold of the breast.

_Child_—Bring the fingers and thumb of the right hand, and place them
against the lips; then draw them away, and bring the right hand against
the fore of the left, as if holding an infant. Should the child be
male, prefix the sign of a man before the last sign; and, if a female,
do so by the sign of the woman.

_Boy_—Bring the fingers and thumb of the right hand to touch the lips;
then extend the hands and make the sign of man; then raise the hand,
with the fingers upwards, placed at the height of a boy.

_Girl_—Begin with the above sign, and make the sign of woman; and then
raise the hand to the height of the girl.

_You_—The hand held upwards obliquely, and pointing forward.

_He, or another_—The fore fingers extended, and the hands shut,
and fingers brought over one another, or nearly touching, and then
separated moderately quick.

{287} _Many, or much_—The flat of the right hand patting on the back of
the left hand; which is repeated in proportion to the greater or lesser

_Know_—The fore finger of the right hand held up nearly opposite to the
nose, and brought with a half-turn to the right, and carried a little
outwards. Place any of the articles before the last sign, which will
then signify, "I know, you know, he knows;"—both hands being made use
of in the manner described, implies, "to know much."

_Now, or at present_—The two hands forming each a hollow, and brought
near each other, and put in a tremulous motion upwards and downwards.

_Come here_—The hand stretched outwards, with the palm under, and
brought back with a curve motion downwards, and inclining to the body.

_Go_—The back of the hand stretched out and upwards.

_What say you_—The palm of the hand upwards, and carried circularly
outwards and depressed.

_No, nothing, I have none_—The hand held up before the face, with the
palm outward, and vibrated to and fro.

_From whence come you? say_—First, the sign of you; then the hand
extended, open, and drawn to the breast; and, lastly, the sign of,
"what say you?"

_Come_—The fore-finger moved from right to left, with an interrupted
motion, as if imitating the alternate movement of stepping.

_Mine_—The hand shut, and held up to the view.

_House_—The hand half open, and the fore finger extended and separated;
then raise the hand upwards, and give it a half turn, as if screwing

_Done, or finished_—The hands placed edge up and down, parallel to
each other; the right hand without; which latter is drawn back, as if
cutting something.

_Spring season_—The sign of cold, to which add the last sign of being
done or finished.

_Body_—The hands with the fingers pointed to the lower part of the
body, and then drawn upwards.

_Hair_—The movement of combing.



    Speeches of Pawnees, Pawnee Loups, and Pawnee Republicans, at a
    council held at the Engineer Cantonment, October, 1819.

In concluding his address, on opening the Pawnee council, Major
O'Fallon requested them, if any subject rested heavily on their
minds, to come forward and express themselves without fear. Long Hair
(Tarrarecawaho,) immediately arose, and with a firm step placed himself
in the middle of the area. He stood for a short time immovable, then
slowly advanced nearer to the agent, and with a very loud, powerful
voice, fierce countenance, and vehement gesticulation, thus addressed

    Father, The Master of Life placed me on this land, and what
    should I fear? Nothing. You are a chief, and I am a chief.

    Father, Look at me, and see if I deceive you, when I say that I
    have but one intention, and that is a good one.

    Father, My heart is strong; I say, my heart is strong.

    Father, Those who robbed and whipped your people, I did not
    see; I was not present.

    Father, Those Republican Pawnees are bad people, they have
    injured the whites, but I have not, and that is the reason why
    I am not afraid to see you.

    {290} Father, We are fond of pipes; we like to travel to our
    neighbouring nations, and smoke with them.

    Father, I am desirous to go now, and hunt the buffaloe; but
    when the grass comes up in the spring, I hope to see you again.

    Father, This medal which you see on my neck, is my father's
    image. It is dear to me, because he presented and placed it on
    my neck.

    Father, Wherever I have been to visit my father (Governor
    Clarke), or my fathers, I have heard good talk, and mine has
    been good also; but there are many here who will not give ear
    to their words.

    Father, I am happy to hear what you say about peace; that we
    particularly desire, especially with the whites.

    Father, Affairs have been bad. I am not a child; I listened to
    the talk you sent to us, and was therefore not afraid to come
    and see you. Those whites, and all those people around me, I
    consider as my children, and am glad to see them.

    I tell you that I am poor; who is the cause of it? not myself;
    it is my young men. That is all I have to say. I give you my

_La-ceech-ne-sha-ru_, the Knife Chief, a Pawnee Loup.

Father, Here I am before you. You see me. I am poor.

Father, I am a Pawnee wolf, and those you see there (pointing to his
band) are Pawnee wolves.

Father, Look at my people, and see if they have any thing belonging to
a white man.

Father, I tell you the truth, I am poor.

Father, Amongst my people, I believe, there is not an individual that
has injured you. If any one of the other bands can say they have, let
them speak.

Father, This medal which hangs upon my breast, I received from my
red-headed father below (Governor {291} Clarke). I listened to his
words, and on my return I told them to my people, and they believed.

Father, You see that I am old; but I do not recollect that myself, or
any of my people, ever injured any of the whites.

Father, Neither my hands, nor those of my young men, have ever been
stained with the blood of the Americans.

Father, That is the reason why I have come to listen again in the words
of my father.

Father, That is all I have to say. I have finished.

_Major O'Fallon_

Grand Pawnees, and Pawnee Republicans; I am not satisfied with what you
have said. What you have said is good, but it is not enough. Until you
drive those dogs from among you, I will not consider you in any other
light than as dogs.

_Pa-ne-ca-he-ga_, Fool Robe's son, a Pawnee Republican.

Father, I am a Pawnee Republican.

Father, What you have said is true: the Pawnee Republicans are dogs,
they do not listen with their ears.

Father, I have never done ill to a white man myself; I have never even
taken a knife from him; and my heart is distressed because my young
people will not listen.

Father, It is true what Tar-ra-re-ca-wa-ho has said, that we whipped
two white men; we did do it.

Father, I am poor; I say, I am poor.

Father, It is true that it is customary for my people to rob white men,
when they go to war, but I never knew them to kill one.

Father, My heart is distressed because my young men will not listen;
they have no ears.

{292} Father, The offenders have not ears; they were afraid to come and
see you, knowing they had done wrong.

Father, I came without fear, on a good horse, which I present to you.
My people were afraid that I should come.

Father, I am without fear. I said, when I set out from my village, why
should I fear, if my father strikes me, it is no more than a father
does to his child.

Father, We are glad to hear your words; we will make peace; we will
return to our village, and see what those dogs will do.

Father, That is all I have to say. I have done.

_Chief of the Tappage band_ of the Grand Pawnees.

Father, I have come to see you; here I am, very poor.

Father, I have seen my father below, and this is my great father I wear
round my neck.

Father, When he put this about my neck I heard what he said to me, and
have recollected it.

Father, Our young people will not attend to what we say; we talk and
repeat to them, but when they lie down, they forget all before midnight.

Father, You ought to have heard whether my band have injured you or not.

Father, There was a time when our hands were red with the blood of your
people, but since we have been below, it has been washed off.

Father, We visited our father below; he told us, when we met a white
man to treat him well, and let him never fear.

Father, I see you are looking on me; I am poor; I have nothing on me of
the make of the whites; I have even turned my buffaloe robe to hide its

Father, I came here to listen to your words, to hear what you have told

{293} Father, You say there is a God above; I know it; when he is angry
I hear him speak (alluding to the thunder).

Father, I consider you equal to him. You are the same to me.

Father, All you see here are your children; they are poor.

Father, That is all I have to say.

_Major O'Fallon_

Pawnee chiefs and soldiers; I called you here to adjust the difference
that is between us. I called you here to bring the articles which were
stolen from my people. I have not yet seen them. I called you here to
bring the dogs that stole them; but I have not seen them; I hope that
you have brought them.

My eyes have been looking for them, and my ears have been listening,
but I am not satisfied.

       *       *       *       *       *

(The following articles were now given up.

One buffaloe robe, one horse, one pair double-barrelled pistols, one
bird-bag, one tomahawk, one axe, one powder-flask, one shot-bag.

Fool Robe's son said, there are many articles lost, which my people
took from you, and two of the horses gave out on the road, a few miles
from this place.[160])

[160] One of the horses has been since found.—JAMES.

_Long Hair_

Those who did the mischief did not come. They were afraid. Here are two
of their chiefs.

_Major O'Fallon_

Pawnee chiefs and warriors; I wish to know whether or not you are
able to punish the offenders; {294} whether or not there are good
people enough amongst you to punish them. Our soldiers are anxious to
march against you, but the chiefs restrain them, lest they injure the
innocent. That is the reason why I wish to know if you are not able
to punish the bad. Our people do not wish to spill innocent blood.
Therefore I desire to place their punishment in your own hands.

I have come to this land, not to spill blood, but to prevent its
flowing. I have come to give you rest, and peace, and happiness, not to
make war. If your arms are not strong enough, come forward and say so;
if you are not chiefs, say so.

Pawnees, If I were to see our troops marching towards your nation,
tears would fall from my eyes; because I believe that there are some
good men among you, whose blood would immediately flow. Red Skins have
called us cowards when we have hesitated to spill blood, when it ought
to have been spilt. Even some of your chiefs have insulted our people,
thinking they would not resent it. I tell you, Pawnees, that we are
tired of submitting to insults. My nation is most powerful, and that is
the reason why the Great Spirit restrains our arm.

Come forward, you chiefs, and let me know what is the strength of your
arm; my ears are anxious to hear; say, before it is too late, whether
you can govern your people or not.

_Pe-ta-le-sha-roo_, Republican chief.

Father, I am not afraid of these people, these Pawnees you see here.
They have never struck me with a whip; (meaning, that when he has
chastised his people they have not retaliated upon him.)

Father, I have travelled through all the nations below; they have not
injured me.

Father, I have seen people travel in blood. I have {295} travelled in
blood myself, but it was the blood of Red Skins, no others.

Father, I have been in all the nations round about, and I have never
feared a Red Skin.

Father, I have seen the time when blood flowed upon the ground. It drew
tears from many eyes. But I went down to visit my father, (Governor
Clarke,) and returned contented.

Father, I have no longer a desire for war. I delight to sit in peace.

Father, When I went to see my father below, although there was danger
in the way, I was not afraid to go alone.

Father, But I am now like a squaw, and instead of carrying the mark of
a man, I have that of a woman.

Father, My right arm, and that half of my body is white man, and the
other only Indian.

Father, When I returned from below, I related to my people what I had
seen, but none of them had ears; they would not hear me.

Father, I have often traded with the whites. I always traded fairly,
while the Pawnee Loups did not. Here is a trader who knows me (Mr.

Father, We will punish the offenders. It is very easy; it is not
difficult at all.

Father, I will score the back of him who cut your tent.

Father, It is some time since I have worn this on my neck; I have kept
it secreted, because they will not respect it.

Father, After our battles with the people around us, I have gone alone,
crying into their villages, and have received no harm. (In other words,
Indians have forgiven me for spilling their blood, then why should not
the magnanimity of the whites forgive the comparative trifling injuries
I have done them.)

Father, When the war-party that robbed your {296} people returned,
I was not told of this act. If I had known it, and had demanded the
articles, perhaps they would have been given up to me; but they are now
so widely distributed that it is impossible to collect them all.

Father, I have never yet whipped my people, but I intend to begin now.
I will punish the offenders as soon as I return home.

Father, I am glad to see you writing down all that has been said. When
a man dies, his actions are forgotten, but when they are written down,
it is not so.

Father, Some among us have had difficulty with the traders, because
they would give but very little vermilion, &c. for our furs.

Father, When I have seen a person poor, and I had a horse to spare, or
a blanket, I have given it to him.

Father, From this day I undergo a change; I am now an American, and you
shall hear that it is true.

Father, If you hear of my being whipped when I return to my village,
consider yourself the cause of it, for I will whip those dogs that
insulted you as you desire me.

Father, You love your children; I love mine.

Father, Be quick, do what you have to do. If you intend to punish us,
let us know it.

(This is an artful, politic Indian. If he is sincere in what he has
here said, his change has been a sudden one. When Mr. Dougherty
delivered the talk sent by Major O'Fallon to this people, in their
village, demanding the stolen articles, &c. this man ridiculed him,
saying, that for his part he had nothing but an old pair of shoes that
the Red Head had given him, and which he would return.)

{297} _Major O'Fallon_

Do you wish to see our warriors among you, to punish these people. I do
not wish to see them among you. You, chief of the Pawnee Republicans,
(addressing the last speaker,) you say you are able to punish them;
I am in hopes that you have not lied; if you have, we must do it
ourselves. If my eyes cannot see you punish them, my ears must tell me
you have done it.—Yes! my ears must tell me it has been well done, that
you have given two stripes for every one that those two unfortunate
traders have suffered. And you, Long Hair, that have so strong an arm,
assist him, lest our warriors should be obliged to visit you, when
yourself might not be distinguished from the others. I do not yet know
you as chiefs, but I wish to know you as such; I want to have some
proofs that you are chiefs. When I learn that you have punished those
who have done wrong, as our chiefs punish, then I will recognize you.
You tell me that your stomachs are empty: I will give you something
to fill them. You show me your naked skin; my heart will not let me
clothe it until this difference is settled. Were I to smoke with you
on this day, the smoke would not rise; it would fall to the ground.
When I shall be able to cover what is past, and to forget it; when I
smile upon you in shaking hands, then perhaps I may give you something
to eat and to smoke. I come not to beg your friendship; I come not to
ask your land or your skins; I ask nothing of you. Pawnees! I wish
to be at peace with you, and all the Red Skins, I tell you again. I
know that the Great Spirit has done little for you; he has done much
for us. I come to do something for you, when I see you willing to do
something for yourselves. I come to give you advice to enable you to
live happily, to calm your troubled minds, and to give peace to your
troubled heads.

{298} If in reality you punish those who have offended, and my ears
tell me so, I will take you by the hand and smoke with you; but if your
ears are unwilling to hear my words, close your ears and do not hear

I will work a change among you, Red Skins, and when my arm fails, my
bones shall whiten on your plains, for my nation to come and bury.

_Pawnee Loups_, Before you leave this place I will give you something
to make your hearts glad.

_Long Hair_, If you would make me believe that you are disposed to
behave well, treat those good people (the Pawnee Loups) that reside
with you kindly. Your arm is stronger than theirs; do not raise it
against them, unless they insult you. I hope the day is not far
distant, when I shall be able to smile on your people, as I now smile
on them.

_Pawnees_, When you find yourselves unable to punish those dogs among
you, think that you hear the sound of those bugles from the hills near
your village.

       *       *       *       *       *

(Presents were now made to the Pawnee Loups; but to the others only a
little tobacco was given, and no chiefs were recognized.)

[Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]

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