Lewis and Clark Expedition - Wikipedia
The expedition's members did not sleep well that night. A close look at that tense encounter can reveal much about Lewis and gain access to the nations of the Upper Missouri ought to avoid meeting this tribe, .. a "signal of their intentions (which was to Stop our proceeding on our journey and if Possible rob us.). The Lewis and Clark Expedition came in contact with nearly fifty Native American tribes and soon learned that the various groups had different On their return trip Lewis and Clark again benefited from the generosity of the Nez Perce I called to them that I would shoot them if they did not give me my horse and raised. Learn about the explorers and their journey west. translating the language of the local tribes for Lewis and Clark's men. After meeting Sacagawea and her husband, the Corps traveled west from Many Americans did more than dream.
Instead, the Nez Perce fed the explorers and then cared for their horses, which would be needed for their recrossing of the Lolo Trail the following year. After wintering at Fort Clatsop near the mouth of the Columbia River, the Corps of Discovery arrived back in Nez Perce country on June 10, to find their horses and other belongings in good shape.
The Nez Perce not only supplied the explorers with food, but also furnished guides to lead them safely across the trail. One reason the various tribes were so helpful to Lewis and Clark may have been their Indian companion, Sacagawea, and her infant son.
This Shoshone woman, married to the French trader Toussaint Charbonneau, accompanied the Corps of Discovery from the Mandan villages to the Pacific Ocean and then came back with them.
Indians who might have suspected the explorers were on a warlike mission would have been reassured by seeing Sacagawea and her child with the soldiers.
A woman with a party of men is a token of peace. For example, on August 14,at a critical juncture of the expedition, Lewis wrote in his journal: In accomplishing this, the explorers had to forsake the relative ease of river travel for hazardous and inclement travel over snow by foot and horseback.
Lewis and Clark were not the first explorers to benefit from Indian geographical knowledge. In this process, Native Americans recorded and transmitted concepts of their cultural, physical, and sacred landscapes using a variety of cartographic devices.
Native Americans and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Hospitality and Hostility
These devices took several forms: Sometimes those transitory maps were recorded by explorers or government officials and incorporated in printed maps, in which case Indian geographical concepts were widely disseminated. On the Nicholas King map used by Lewis and Clark on their journey, most information on the American Northwest was based on Indian information. Indian concepts of geographical space differed from those held by Europeans and Americans.
The Indian methods of measuring time, distance and direction were based on their experiences as hunters and gatherers. Time and distance were expressed in terms of the number of nights or "sleeps" that it would take to travel from one point to another. Disease known among them? What is their state of life as to longevity? At what age do the women begin and cease to menstruate?
At what age do they marry? How long do they suckle the Children? What is the provision of their Childrn. What is its state in childhood. The number of strokes counted by the quarter of a minute by glass, and multiplied by four will give its frequency in a minute.
What are their Remidies? Are artificial discharges of blood ever used among them? In what manner do they induce sweating? Do they ever use voluntary fasting? At what time do they rise — their Baths? How do they preserve their food? The Native Americans practiced bloodletting and purging, induced sweating and vomiting, and mingled their medicine with mysticism and ritual. They treated constipation with herbs, and gave enemas by utilizing horns and animal bladders.
Indians chewed certain roots, made decoctions, and administered drugs in teas or by inhaling fumes. He was urged "to take her and not dispise them.
On Thursday morning, September 27, both the captains and the chiefs were up early. Black Buffalo and the Partisan were given, or rather they simply appropriated, the blankets they had slept on. After breakfast Lewis and the chiefs went on shore "as a verry large part of their nation was comeing in" to see the expedition. Clark remained on the keelboat, where he wrote a letter to Pierre Dorion and prepared a medal and some certificates for Lewis to use later in the day.
About midafternoon Lewis, accompanied by Black Buffalo, the Partisan, and the "considerable man" Warchapa, returned to the keelboat. After about half an hour, the captains evidently thought it best that all return to the Sioux village. When Clark began to suggest they go ashore, the chiefs showed "great reluctiance" to leave. That reluctance finally overcome, Clark first visited the Partisan's lodge. From there Clark was conducted to a gathering of Teton elders. Toward evening Lewis arrived in the village and both captains enjoyed a display of the same dancing and ceremony as the previous night.
And once again, on the way back to the keelboat, they were offered Sioux women. As before, the offer was rejected. Tired by a full day of talking and visiting, the American party, along with the Partisan and one of his soldiers, made their way on the white pirogue back to the keelboat.
The evening stillness was shattered when some clumsy steering caused the pirogue to slam broadside against the keelboat's anchor cable. The cable broke and both vessels began to swing dangerously. Clark at once shouted at his men to get their oars in order to prevent further damage to either vessel.
His shouting and the general bustle of men moving quickly in the darkness frightened the Sioux. An alarm ran through the village as Black Buffalo spread the word that an Omaha attack was at hand.
Within ten minutes the chief and two hundred armed men prepared for combat were on the river bank. After about half an hour, most of the warriors made their way back to the village. However, some sixty remained on watch throughout the night.
Both Lewis and Clark believed that the sudden appearance of so many warriors was a "signal of their intentions which was to Stop our proceeding on our journey and if Possible rob us. Sergeants Ordway and Gass and Private Whitehouse emphasized both the fear of Omaha attack and the genuine desire of the Sioux to help the endangered vessels. But the Americans also had reason to worry that night. Although Clark stressed the sudden arrival of Sioux warriors as cause for alarm, it was probably intelligence brought to the captains by Pierre Cruzatte that put the expedition on its guard throughout the night.
On Wednesday, September 26, Cruzatte had been given some trade goods as presents for the Omaha prisoners. Now, in return, the prisoners told the interpreter that Lewis and Clark "were to be stoped.
Certainly it fit the overall evaluation of Sioux behavior held by the expedition. Clark's tense lines "we Shew as little signs of a Knowledge of their intentions as possible, all prepared on board for any thing which might happen, we kept a Strong guard all night in the boat, no Sleep" betray both fear of Sioux military power and an exaggerated readiness to fight.
Those were days filled with isolated moments of trouble and misunderstanding and long periods of friendly visiting and good company. The expedition gathered some important ethnographic data, tried to make its point about American sovereignty, and even practiced, albeit with dubious success, some intertribal peace-making.
But on the crucial issue of trade—safe passage up the Missouri for fur traders and St. Louis merchants—there had been little or no progress. The expedition planned to spend the rest of the year at the Mandan villages; with winter coming, it was now time to move on. In the eyes of men like Black Buffalo and the Partisan, the continued presence of the American expedition posed something of a dilemma and an embarrassment.
Both men needed to act forcefully to vindicate personal claims to power. Teton bands had come to expect their headmen to obtain gifts from river traders. A chief who could not deliver was bound to have his authority openly questioned.
At the same time, faced with a well-armed party under strong leadership, the chiefs feared pressing their demands too far. If there was a bloody incident and Indian casualties were high, the chiefs would surely lose influence. Pressure tactics that proved effective in intimidating poorly armed traders who needed Sioux cooperation would not work against a military expedition whose goals went far beyond the ledger book. It was against this background of cross purposes, face saving, and Lewis and Clark's determination to leave the Bad River that the last day of the Teton Sioux confrontation was played out.
Much of Friday morning was spent in a fruitless search for the keelboat anchor. As the captains were about to order the sail hoisted, Black Buffalo and the other chiefs appeared. Ordway noted that the warriors on the bank were well armed with guns, spears, "a kind of cutlashes," and bows with metal-tipped arrows.
At that moment several of the Partisan's warriors took hold of the cable. Clark, who was inside the cabin with Black Buffalo, saw what happened and complained to the chief. Lewis, weary of the constant demands for gifts, refused to give them anything. He ordered all hands ready for departure, had the sail hoisted, and detailed one man to untie the bow cable.
At this critical moment several things happened at once.
The bow cable, first untied by a crewman, was again fastened by several of the Partisan's warriors. At the same time, the Partisan himself demanded a flag and some tobacco. Lewis angrily ordered all Indians off the boat while Clark threw a carrot of tobacco on the bank. Clark then took the firing taper for the port swivel gun in his hand and "spoke so as to touch his [Black Buffalo's] pride. Violence seemed seconds away. Warriors hurried women and children from the bank.
But it was Black Buffalo who finally calmed the situation. He promised the expedition safe conduct if tobacco, always a ceremonial tribute, was given to the warriors holding the cable. Lewis and Clark balked at the demand, saying that they "did not mean to be trifled with.
At that moment the Teton confrontation was over. There would be other parties from St.
Lewis and Clark Expedition: Native American Tribes ***
Louis, less well armed, with more goods, and easier to intimidate. Allowing one boat to pass was hardly a defeat. Black Buffalo had obtained ceremonial tribute from the Americans and had lost nothing in the eyes of his own people.
But at the beginning of the final day of the confrontation, the political ambitions of the Partisan were as yet unfulfilled. His contest for influence with Black Buffalo still gave him reason to harrass the Americans. The Partisan, described by Buffalo Medicine's son as a "Double Spoken man," seized the initiative that day as one more means to gain precedence over Black Buffalo.
In the end it was Black Buffalo who engineered a compromise allowing each party to escape with some dignity intact and without bloodshed. If Black Buffalo is credited with working to avoid violence, then Lewis and Clark also deserve a share of the glory. They took seriously their instructions from Jefferson to deal with Indians "in a most friendly and conciliatory manner which their own conduct will admit. They could, with enough determination and good fortune, move up the Missouri.
Louis traders, Lewis and Clark did not have to stay with the Siouxtrade with them, and depend on their cooperation.
The memory of the Sioux September was still fresh when Clark, writing from Fort Mandan during the winter of —, described the Tetons as "the vilest miscreants of the savage race, and must ever remain the pirates of the Missouri. The Sioux talks had failed. The Sioux were no closer to becoming part of the St. Jefferson's call for Lewis and Clark to make a "friendly impression" on Black Buffalo's folk was lost in a welter of conflicting band and personal quarrels.
Lewis admitted as much when he informed Jefferson that Corporal Richard Warfington's return party bound for St. Louis, the spring of was sure to encounter heavy Sioux fire. Sioux hostility might endanger not only Warfington's men but the keelboat loaded with the expedition's journals, maps, and botanical specimens. The hazard was real enough that Warfington's men "pledged themselves to us that they will not yeald while there is a man of them living.
At best Lewis and Clark could say their efforts were inconclusive; at worst they may have exacerbated Sioux -American relations. Nearly years later, Bernard DeVoto voiced what has become historical wisdom about the encounter.
DeVoto declared that Lewis and Clark defeated the Tetons, forced them to back down, and made them "women" in the eyes of their neighbors. Rather, it was American diplomacy that had been handed a stinging rebuff.
As Lewis and Clark recognized in their letter to the North West Company trader Hugh Heney, the Sioux would always be a barrier to trade on the Upper Missouri "until some effectual measures be taken to render them pacific.
In the next two decades, as English traders retreated from the prairies and plains and Sioux population grew, the Teton bands did indeed turn to American merchants. But until that happened, Jefferson's assessment that the United States was "miserably weak" proved a painfully accurate appraisal of northern plains realities.
Lewis and Clark had done little to transform those political and economic realities. Yale University Press, Edited by David McKeehan. Reprint, with preface by Earle R. Ross and Haines,