LEWIS and CLARK Meet the Yakima Indians
from the journal of William Clark
October 16th WEDNESDAY 1805
I Saw Indians & Horses on the South Side below five Indians came up the river in great haste, we Smoked with them and gave them a piece of tobacco to Smoke with their people and sent them back, they Set out in a run &e continued to go as fast as they could run as far as we could see them. after getting Safely over the rapid and haveing taken Diner Set out and proceeded on Seven miles to the junction of this river and the Columbia which joins from the N. W. In every direction from the junction of those rivers the countrey is one continued plain low and rises from the water gradually, except a range of high Countrey on the opposit Side about 2 miles distant from the Coilumbia.
We halted above the point on the river Kimooenim [Snake] to smoke with the Indians who had collected there in great numbers to view us, here we met our 2 Chiefs who left us two days ago and proceeded on to this place to inform those bands of our approach and friendly intentions towards ail nations &c. we also met the 2 men who had passed us Several days ago on horsback, one of them we observed was a man of great influence with those Indians, harranged them; after Smokeing with the Indians who had collected to view us we formed a camp at the point near which place I saw a hew pieces of Drift wood after we had our camp fixed and fires made, a Chief came from this camp which was about ¼ of a mile up the Columbia river at the head of about 200 men singing and beeting on their drums Stick and keeping time to the musik they formed a half circle around us and Sung for Some time, we gave them all Smoke, and Spoke to their Chief as well as we could by signs informing them of our friendly disposition to all nations, and our joy in Seeing those of our Children around us, Gave the principal chief a large Medal, Shirt and Handkf. a 2nd Chief a Meadel of Small size, and to the Cheif who came down from the upper villages a Small Medal & Handkerchief.
The Chiefs then returned with the men to their camp; Soon after we purchased for our Provisions Seven Dogs, Some fiew of those people made us presents of fish and Several returned and delayed with us untill bedtime. The 2 old chiefs who accompanied us from the head of the river precured us Some full Such as the Stalks of weed[s] or plant[s] and willow bushes. one man made me a present of about 20 Ib. of verry fat Dried horse meat.
October 17th THURSDAY 1805
Several men and woman offered Dogs and fish to Sell, we purchased all the dogs we could, the fish being out of season and dieing in great numbers in the river, we did not think proper to use them, send out Hunters to shute the Prarie Cock a large fowl which I have only Seen on this river, Capt. Lewis took a Vocabelary of the Language of those people who call themselves Sokulk [Note -they were probably Yakimas.], and also one of the language of a nation resideing on a Westerly fork of the Columbia which mouthes a hew miles above this place who Call themselves Chim-na-pum Some few of this nation reside with the Sokulks nation.
I took two men in a Small canoe and assended the Columbia river 10 miles to an Island near the Stard. Shore on which two large Mat Lodges of Indians were drying Salmon, The number of dead Salmon on the Shores & floating in the river is incrediable to say -- and at this Season they have only to collect the fish Split them open and dry them on their Scaffolds on which they have great numbers, how far they have to raft their timber they make their scaffolds of I could not lern; but there is no timber of any sort except Small willow bushes in sight in any direction. from this Island the natives showed me the enterance of a large Westerly fork which they Call Tapetett at about 8 miles distant, the evening being late I deturmined to return to the forks, at which place I reached at Dark. passed a Island in the middle of the river at 5 miles at the head of which is a rapid, not dangerous on the Lard. Side opposit of this rapid is a fishing place 3 Mat Lodges, and great quants. of Salmon on scaffolds drying. Saw great numbers of Dead Salmon on the Shores and floating in the water, great numbers of Indians on the banks viewing me and 18 canoes accompanied me from the point. The waters of this river is clear, and ? Salmon may be seen at the deabth of 15 or 20 feet. West 4 miles to the lower point of a large Island near the Stard. Side at 2 Lodges, passed three large lodges on the Star. Side near which great number of Salmon was drying on scaffolds one of those Mat lodges I entered found it crouded with men women and children and near the enterance of those houses I saw maney squars engaged [in] splitting and drying Salmon. I was furnished with a mat to set on, and one man set about preparing me something to eate, first he brought in a piece of a Drift log of pine , and with a wedge of the elks horn, and a malet of Stone curioesly carved he Split the log into Small pieces and lay'd it open on the fire on which he put round Stones, a woman handed him a basket of water and a large Salmon about half Dried, when the Stones were hot he put them into the basket of water with the fish which was soon suaciently boiled for use it was then taken out put on a platter of rushes neetly made, and set before me they boiled a Salmon for each of the men with me, dureing those preparations, I smoked, with those about me who chose to smoke which was but hew, this being a custom those people are but little accustomed to and only Smok thro: form. after eateing the boiled fish which was delicious, I set out & halted or come too on the Island at the two Lodges, Several fish was given to me, in return,for Which I gave Small pieces of ribbond on my return found Great numbs, of the nativs with Capt. Lewis, men all employ[e]d in dressing ther skins mending their clothes and putting their arms in the best order the latter being always a matter of attention with us. The Dress of those natives differ but little from those on the Koskoskia and Lewis's rivers, except the women who dress verry different, in as much as those above ware long leather Shirts which [are] highly ornimented with beeds shells &c. &c. and those on the main Columbia river only ware a truss or pece of leather tied around them at their hips and drawn tite between their legs and fastened before So as bar[e]ly to hide those parts which are so sacredly hid & s[e]cured by our women. Those women are more inclined to Co[r]pulency than any we have yet Seen, their eyes are of a Duskey black, their hair of a corse black without orniments of any kind braded as above
Those people appears to live in a State of comparitive happiness: they take a great[er] share [in the] labor of the woman, than is common among Savage tribes, and as I am informed [are] content with one wife Those people respect the aged with Veneration. I observed an old woman in one of the Lodges which I entered, She was entirely blind as I was informed by signs, had lived more than 100 winters, She occupied the best position in the house, and when She Spoke great attention was paid to what she Said. Those people as also those of the flat heads which we had passed on the Koskoske and Lewis's rivers are subject to sore eyes, and many are blind of one and Some of both eyes. this misfortune must be owing to the reflections of the sun &c. on the waters in which they are continually fishing during the Spring Summer & fall, & the snows dureing the winter Seasons, in this open country where the eye has no rest. I have observed amongst those, as well in all other tribes which I have passed on these waters who live on fish maney of different sectes who have lost their teeth about middle age, Some have their teeth worn to the gums, perticelar[ly] those of the upper jaw, and the tribes generally have bad teeth
The Houses or Lodges of the tribes of the main Columbia river is of large mats made of rushes, those houses are from 15 to 60 feet in length generally of an Oblong squar form, Supported by poles on forks in the in[n]er Side, Six feet high, the top is covered also with mats leaveing a Seperation in the whole length of about 12 or 15 inches wide, left for the purpose of admitting light and for the Smok of the fire to pass which is made in the middle of the house.
Those people appeare of a mild disposition and friendly disposed. They have in their huts independant of their nets gigs & fishing tackling each bows & large quivers or arrows on which they use flint Spikes.
October 18th FRIDAY I805
The fish being very bad those which was offerd to us we had every reason to believe was taken up on the shore dead we thought proper not to purchase any, we purchased forty dogs for which we gave articles of little value, such as beeds, bells & thimbles, of which they appeared verry fond, at 4 oClock we set out down the Great Columbia [NOTE - the dogs were used by the members of the expedition as a source of food. They seemed to prefer it over fish.]