The Following is an excerpt from
First Across the Continent: The Story of The Exploring Expedition of
Lewis and Clark in 1804-5-6 by Noah Brooks. This text is in
the public domain.
Arriving at the Shoshonee village on the Lemhi, Captain Lewis found a
note from Captain Clark, sent back by a runner, informing him of the
difficulty and impossibility of a water route to the Columbia.
Cameahwait, being told that his white friends would now need twenty
more horses, said that he would do what he could to help them. The
journal here adds:--
"In order not to lose the present favorable moment, and to keep the
Indians as cheerful as possible, the violins were brought out and our
men danced, to the great diversion of the Indians. This mirth was the
more welcome because our situation was not precisely that which would
most dispose us to gayety; for we have only a little parched corn to
eat, and our means of subsistence or of success depend on the wavering
temper of the natives, who may change their minds to-morrow. . . .
"The Shoshonees are a small tribe of the nation called the Snake
Indians, a vague appellation, which embraces at once the inhabitants
of the southern parts of the Rocky Mountains and of the plains on
either side. The Shoshonees with whom we now were amount to about one
hundred warriors, and three times that number of women and children.
Within their own recollection they formerly lived in the plains, but
they have been driven into the mountains by the Pahkees, or the roving
Indians of the Sascatchawan, and are now obliged to visit
occasionally, and by stealth, the country of their ancestors. Their
lives, indeed, are migratory.
From the middle of May to the beginning of September they reside on
the headwaters of the Columbia, where they consider themselves
perfectly secure from the Pahkees, who have never yet found their way
to that retreat. During this time they subsist chiefly on salmon, and,
as that fish disappears on the approach of autumn, they are driven to
seek subsistence elsewhere. They then cross the ridge to the waters of
the Missouri, down which they proceed slowly and cautiously, till they
are joined near the Three Forks by other bands, either of their own
nation or of the Flatheads, with whom they associate against the
common enemy. Being now strong in numbers, they venture to hunt the
buffalo in the plains eastward of the mountains, near which they spend
the winter, till the return of the salmon invites them to the
Columbia. But such is their terror of the Pahkees, that, so long as
they can obtain the scantiest subsistence, they do not leave the
interior of the mountains; and, as soon as they have collected a large
stock of dried meat, they again retreat, thus alternately obtaining
their food at the hazard of their lives, and hiding themselves to
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