Dakota Datebook: Lewis and Clark Return (Part I)

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Dakota Datebook: Lewis and Clark Return (Part I)
July 3, 2006

Transcript:


Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery were camped the first three days of July 1806 at “Traveller’s Rest,” now a state park of the same name near Missoula. The time was needed for men and horses to rest, and for preparations for the next few weeks, as the party would divide in order to explore more of the territory. It was also time to bid farewell to their Nez Perce guides. Excerpts from the men’s journals highlight some of the activities of this week, and reveal the mutual respect, care and affection that had developed among the travelers.


“… remained here to rest ourselves and horses after the severe fatigue of coming over the mountains. ... Here the party is to be separated; some of us are to go straight across to the falls of the Missouri and some to the head waters of Jefferson river, where we left the canoes. At the falls we expect to be subdivided, as Capt. Lewis, myself and four or five men intend to go up Maria’s river as far as the 50th degree of latitude; and a party to remain at the falls to prepare harness and other things necessary for hauling our canoes and baggage over the portage…” –Patrick Gass, July 1.


They recovered quickly from their fatigue. Lewis wrote on the 2nd of July, “…in the evening the indians run their horses, and we had several foot races betwen the natives and our party with various success…”


Lewis expressed some apprehension as the close-knit group separated on July 3rd, “I took leave of my worthy friend and companion Capt. Clark and the party that accompanyed him. I could not avoid feeling much concern on this occasion… they (Indians) alledged that as the road was a well beaten track we could not now miss our way and as they were affraid of meeting with their enimies … they could not think of continuing with us any longer, ... I directed the hunters to ... indeavour to kill some more meat for these people whom I was unwilling to leave without giving them a good supply of provision after their having been so obliging as to conduct us through those tremendious mountains.”


Clark described his group’s departure on the same day, “Set out with ... (50) horses. ... makeing a total of 36 miles today. ... one man …very unwell this evening owing to rideing a hard trotting horse; I give him a pill of Opiom which soon relev[d] him.”


On July 4th, Lewis wrote of the departure of the guides, “these affectionate people our guides betrayed every emmotion of unfeigned regret at seperating from us; ...”
Patrick Gass corroborated, “…the whole nation to which they belong [Nez Perces], are the most friendly, honest, and ingenuous people that we have seen in the course of our voyage and travels. ... these good hearted, hospitable and obliging sons of the west…”


Now many miles away, Clark wrote, “This being the day of the decleration of Independence of the United States and a Day commonly scelebrated by my Country I had every disposition to selebrate this day and therefore halted early and partook of a Sumptious Dinner of a fat Saddle of Venison and Mush of Cows (roots)…after Dinner we proceeded on ...”


The nation was just 30 years old, and the vanguard of westward expansion was holding a 4th of July picnic in western Montana.


Today’s Dakota Datebook is a weekly update on the Corps of Discovery’s return journey through our region…200 years ago this summer.


Written by Russell Ford-Dunker

Sources:
Reid, Russell. Lewis and Clark in North Dakota. (1948). Bismarck, ND: State Historical Society of North Dakota.
http://www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/archive
http://www.lewisandclarktrail.com/section3/montanacities/missoula/travelerrest.htm

Source

Source: Dakota Datebook, Prairie Public. http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/

Subject Matter

Social Studies

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