Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans


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Taken in by the tribe, Anne, who is given the name Red Deer by her 'captors' because of burns sustained during her flight and her red hair, must learn their ways and language in order to survive. Life is hard but good until the smallpox epidemic almost wipes out the Indian tribes. Surviving, along with a few others from her Mandan family, Anne finds love in the arms of a Pawnee warrior and must decide, when her brother Pierre finds her and tells her their mother survived the massacre, whether to go live among her people, or to stay with her new family.

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Duncan Chaplain Lee was an unlikely traitor. A Rhodes Scholar, patriot, and descendent of one Richard Karl, a doctor and teacher, takes the reader closer than any writer before into The thermometer the same as last night. Heney and Larocque left us for the Gros Ventres' camp. Sent out seven men to hunt for the buffalo. They found the weather too cold, and returned. Several Indians same who had set out with a view to kill buffalo.

The river rose a little. He did so, agreeable to an Indian custom. He gave up the horse. A fine day, warm, and wind from the N. The Indian whom I stopped from committing murder on his wife, through jealousy of one of our interpreters, came and brought his two wives, and showed great anxiety to make up with the man with whom his jealousy sprang.

A woman brought a child with an abscess on the lower part of the back, and offered as much corn as she could carry for some medicine. I was awakened before day by a discharge of three platoons from the party, and the French. The men merrily disposed. I gave them all a little taffia and permitted three cannon fired at the raising of our flag.

Some men went out to hunt, and the others to dancing and continued until 9 o'clock P. Leaving the Mandans. The day was ushered in by the discharge of two cannon. We suffered 16 men with their music to visit the first village for the purpose of dancing, by-as they said-the particular request of the chiefs of that village. About 11 o'clock, I with an interpreter and two men, walked up to the village. My views were to allay some little misunderstanding which had taken place through jealousy and mortification as to our treatment toward them.

I found them much pleased at the dancing of our men. I went into the lodges of all the men of note, except two, who I heard had made some expressions not favorable toward us, in comparing us with the traders of the north. Those chiefs observed to us that what they said was in jest and laughter. Captain Clark, Fort Mandan on the N. A cold day. Some snow. Several Indians visit us with their axes, to get them mended. I employ myself drawing a connection of the country from what information I have received.

A buffalo dance or medicine for three nights past, in the first village. A curious custom: The old men arrange themselves in a circle, and after smoking a pipe which is handed them by a young man dressed up for the purpose, the young men who have their wives back of the circle go each to one of the old men and, with a whining tone, request the old man to take his wife, who presents herself naked, except a robe, and sleep with her.

The girl then takes the old man who very often can scarcely walk and leads him to a convenient place for the business, after which they return to the lodge. If the old man or a white man returns to the lodge without gratifying the man and his wife, he offers her again and again. We sent a man to this medicine dance last night, and they gave him four girls. All this is to cause the buffalo to come near, so that they may kill them. A cold, clear day.

Great numbers of Indians move down the river to hunt. Those people kill a number of buffalo near their villages and save a great proporhon of the meat. Their custom of making this article of life general leaves them more than half of their time without meat. They will stay out some days. Charbonneau , our interpreter, and one man who accompanied him to some lodges of the Minnetarees near the Turtle Hill, returned, both frozen in their faces. Charbonneau informs me that the clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company, with the Minnetarees , has been speaking some few expressions unfavorable toward us, and that it is said the N.

Company intends building a fort at the Minnetarees. He saw the Grand Chief of the Big Bellies, who spoke slightingly of the Americans, saying if we would give our great flag to him he would come to see us. We sent Sergeant Pryor and five men with those Indians to hunt. Several men with the venereal, caught from the Mandan women. One of our hunters, sent out several days ago, arrived and informs that one man-Whitehouse-is frostbitten and can't walk home.

Those Minnetarees told them they were liars; had told them if they came to the fort the white men would kill them. They had been with them all night, smoked the pipe and have been treated well, and the whites had danced for them, observing the Mandan s were bad, and ought to hide themselves. One of the first war chiefs of the Big Bellies' nation came to see us today, with one man and his squaw to wait on him.

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Requested that she might be used for the night. His wife handsome. We shot the air gun and gave two shots with the cannon, which pleased them very much. Four men of ours, who had been hunting, returned; one frosted. This war chief gave us a chart, in his way, of the Missouri. He informed us of his intentions of going to war in the spring against the Snake Indians. We advised him to look back at the number of nations who had been destroyed by war, and reflect upon what he was about to do; observing, if he wished, the happiness of his nation, he would be at peace with all.

By that, by being at peace, and having plenty of goods amongst them, and a free intercourse with those defenseless nations, they would get, on easy terms, a greater number of horses; and that nation would increase. If he went to war against those defenseless people, he would displease his Great Father, and he would not receive that protection and care from him, as other nations who listened to his word.

This chief, who is a young man 26 years old, replied that if his going to war against the Snake Indians would be displeasing to us, he would not go. This morning was fair.

Thermometer at 18 degrees above zero. Much warmer than it has been for some days. Wind S. Continue to be visited by the natives. The sergeant of the guard reported that the Indian women wives to our interpreters were in the habit of unbarring the fort gate at any time of night and admitting their Indian visitors.

I therefore directed a lock to be put to the gate, and ordered that no Indian but those attached to the garrison should be permitted to remain all night within the fort, or admitted during the period which the gate had been previously ordered to be kept shut, which was from sunset until sunrise. Wind from the S. Visited by Mr. McKenzie , one of the N. Company's clerks. This evening a man by the name of Howard, whom I had given permission to go to the Mandan village, returned after the gate was shut, and rather than call to the guard to have it opened, scaled the works.

An Indian who was looking on, shortly after followed his example. I convinced the Indian of the impropriety of his conduct, and explained to him the risk he had run of being severely treated. The fellow appeared much alarmed. I gave him a small piece of tobacco, and sent him away.

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Howard I had committed to the care of the guard, with a determination to have him tried by a courtmartial for this offense. This man is an old soldier, which still heightens this offense. The party that were ordered last evening set out early this morning. The weather was fair and cold. Wind N.

About five o'clock this evening, one of the wives of Charbonneau was delivered of a fine boy. It is worthy of remark that this was the first child which this woman had born, and as is common in such cases her labor was tedious and the pain violent. Jussome informed me that he had frequently administered a small portion of the rattle of the rattlesnake, which he assured me had never failed to produce the desired effect-that of hastening the birth of the child. Having the rattle of a snake by me, I gave it to him, and he administered two rings of it to the woman, broken in small pieces with the fingers, and added to a small quantity of water.

Whether this medicine was truly the cause or not, I shall not undertake to determine. But I was informed that she had not taken it more than ten minutes, before she brought forth. Perhaps this remedy may be worthy of future experiments, but I must confess that I want faith as to its efficacy.

This morning was fair though cold. Thermometer 14 degrees below zero. Ordered the blacksmith to shoe the horses, and some others to prepare some gears in order to send them down with three sleighs to join the hunting party, and transport the meat which they may have procured, to this place. The men whom I had sent for the meat left by Charbonneau did not return until 4 o'clock this evening. Drouilliard arrived with the horses about the same time.

The horses appeared much fatigued. I directed some bran be given them, moistened with a little water, but to my astonishment found that they would not eat it, but preferred the bark of the cottonwood, which forms the principal article of food usually given them by their Indian masters in the winter season.

For this purpose, they cause the tree to be felled by their women, and the horses feed on the boughs and bark of their tender branches. The Indians in our neighborhood are frequently pilfered of their horses by the Arikaras , Sioux , and Assiniboines , and therefore make it an invariable rule to put their horses in their lodges at night.

In this situation, the only food of the horses consists of a few sticks of the cottonwood, from the size of a man's finger to that of his arm. Put out our clothes to sun. They informed me that several men of their nation were gone to consult their medicine stone, about 3 days' march to the southwest, to know what was to be the result of the ensuing year. They have great confidence in this stone, and say that it informs them of everything which is to happen, and visit it every spring and sometimes in the summer.

The next morning, return to the stone, and find marks white and raised on the stone, representing the peace or war which they are to meet with, and other changes which they are to meet. The Big Bellies have a stone to which they ascribe nearly the same virtues.

Captain Lewis returned with 2 sleighs loaded with meat. After finding that he could not overtake the Sioux war party, who had in their way destroyed all the meat at one deposit which I had made, and burned the lodges , determined to proceed on to the lower deposit which he found had not been observed by the Sioux. He hunted two days; killed 36 deer and 14 elk, several of them so meager that they were unfit for use.

The meat which he killed and that in the lower deposit, amounting to about 3, pounds, was brought up on two sleighs; one, drawn by 16 men, had about 2, pounds on it. Wefixed a windlass and drew up the two pirogues on the upper bank, and attempted the boat; but the rope, which we had made of elk skins, proved too weak, and broke several times. Night coming on obliged us to leave her in a situation but little advanced. We were visited by the Black Moccasin, chief of the little village of the Big Bellies, the chief of the Shoe Indians, and a number of others.

Those chiefs gave us some meat which they packed on their wives; and one requested an ax to be made for his son, Mr. Root Bunch , one of the under traders for the Hudson's Bay Company. One of the Big Bellies asked leave for himself and his two wives to stay all night, which was granted. Also two boys stayed all night, one the son of The Black Cat.

Two men of the N. Company arrived with letters, and sackacomah [sacacommis], also a root and I top of a plant, presented by Mr. The way of using it is to scarify the part when bitten, to chew or pound an inch, or more if the root is small, and apply it to the bitten part, renewing it twice a day. The bitten person is not to chew or swallow any of the root, for it might have contrary effect.

Sent out 16 men to make four pirogues. Those men returned in the evening, and informed that they found trees they thought would answer. Gravelines , two Frenchmen, and two Indians arrived from the Arikara nation, with letters from Mr. Anthony Tabeau , informing us of the peaceable dispositions of that nation toward the Mandan s and Minnetarees , and their avowed intentions of pursuing our counsels and advice. They express a wish to visit the Mandan s, and to know if it will be agreeable to them to admit the Arikaras to settle near them, and join them against their common enemy, the Sioux.

We mentioned this to the Mandan s, who observed they had always wished to be at peace and good neighbors with the Arikaras , and it is also the sentiment of all the Big Bellies and Shoe nations. Gravelines informs that the Sissetons and the 3 upper bands of the Tetons, with the Yanktons of the north, intend to come to war in a short time against the nations in this quarter, and will kill every white man they see. Tabeau also informs that Mr. Cameron of St. Peters has put arms into the hands of the Sioux , to revenge the death of 3 of his men killed by the Chippewas, latterly; and that the band of Tetons which we saw is disposed to do as we have advised them through the influence of their chief, Black Buffalo.

Gravelines further informs that the party which robbed us of the two horses latterly, were all Sioux in number. They called at the Arikaras on their return.

Tribal History Notes on the Mandan as told to Col A. B. Welch

The Arikaras , being displeased at their conduct, would not give then anything to eat, that being the greatest insult they could possibly offer them, and upbraided them. We have every reason to believe that our Minnetaree interpreter whom we intended to take, with his wife, as an interpreter through his wife, to the Snake Indians, of which nation she is has been corrupted by the [blank in MS. Some explanation has taken place which clearly proves to us the fact. We give him tonight to reflect, and determine whether or not he intends to go with us, under the regulations stated.

Our interpreter, Charbonneau , determine s on not pr oceeding with us as an interpreter under the terms mentioned yesterday. He will not agree to work, let our situation be what it may, nor stand guard, and, if miffed with any man, he wishes to return when he pleases, also [to] have the disposal of as much provisions as he chooses to carry. And we suffer him to be off the engagement, which was only verbal.

A windy day. He had requested me some [sic], through our French interpreter two days ago, to excuse his simplicity, and take him into the service. After he had taken his things across the river, we called him in and spoke to him on the subject. He agreed to our terms, and we agreed that he might go on with us.

Repaired the boat and pirogues, and preparing to set out. But few Indians visited us today.

They are now attending on the river bank to catch the floating buffalo. Clo udy day. Several gangs of geese and ducks pass up the river. But a small portion of ice floating down today. All the party in high spirits. They pass but few nights without amusing themselves dancing, possessing perfect harmony and good understanding toward each other.

Generally healthy except venereal complaints, which are very common among the natives, and the men catch it from them. Having on this day at 4 P. A small canoe with two French hunters accompanied the barge. The barge crew consisted of six soldiers and two [blank space in MS. Two Frenchmen and an Arikara Indian also take their passage in her as far as the Arikara villages, at which place we expect Mr. Tabeau to embark, with his peltry, who, in that case, will make an addition of two, perhaps four, men to the crew of the barge.

We gave Richard Warfington , a discharged corporal, the charge of the barge and crew, and confided to this care likewise our dispatches to the government, letters to our private friends, and a number of articles to the President of the United States. One of the Frenchmen, by the name of Joseph Gravelines , an honest, discreet man, and an excellent boatman, is employed to conduct the barge as a pilot.

We have therefore every hope that the barge and, with her, our dispatches will arrive safe at St. Gravelines , who speaks the Arikara language extremely well, has been employed to conduct a few of the Arikara chiefs to the seat of government, who have promised us to descend in the barge to St. Louis with that view.

At the same moment that the barge departed from Fort Mandan , Captain Clark embarked with our party and proceeded up the river. As I had used no exercise for several weeks, I determined to walk on shore as far as our encampment of this evening. Accordingly I continued my walk on the north side of the river about six miles, to the upper village of the Mandans , and called on The Black Cat , or Posecopseha , the Great Chief of the Mandans. He was not at home.

I rested myself a few minutes and, finding that the party had not arrived, I returned about two miles and joined them at their encampment on the N. Interpreters: George Drouilliard and Toussaint Charbonneau ; also a black man by the name of York , servant to Captain Clark; an Indian woman, wife to Charbonneau , with a young child; and a Mandan man who had promised us to accompany us as far as the Snake Indians, with a view to bring about a good understanding and friendly intercourse between that nation and his own, the Minnetarees and Amahamis.

Our vessels consisted of six small canoes and two large progues. This little fleet, although not quite so respectable as that of Columbus or Captain Cook, was still viewed by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly famed adventurers ever beheld theirs, and, I daresay, with quite as much anxiety for their safety and preservation.

We were now about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trod. The good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment yet to determine, and these little vessels contained every article by which we were to expect to subsist or defend ourselves.

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However, as the state of mind in which we are, generally gives the coloring to events, when the imagination is suffered to wander into futurity, the picture which now presented itself to me was a most pleasing one. Entertaining as I do the most confident hope of succeeding in a voyage which had formed a darling project of mine for the last ten years, I could but esteem this moment of my departure as among the most happy of my life. The party are in excellent health and spirits, zealously attached to the enterprise, and anxious to proceed. Not a whisper or murmur of discontent to be heard among them, but all act in unison and with the most perfect harmony.

The wind was in our favor after 9 A. We therefore hoisted both the sails in the white pirogue, consisting of a small square sail and spritsail, which carried her at a pretty good gait until about 2 in the afternoon, when a sudden squall of wind struck us and turned the pirogue so much on the side as to alarm Charbonneau , who was steering at the time. In this state of alarm, he threw the pirogue with her side to the wind, when the spritsail, jibing, was as near oversetting the pirogue as it was possible to have missed.

The wind, however, abating for an instant, I ordered Drouilliard to the helm and the sails to be taken in, which was instantly executed, and the pirogue, being steered before the wind, was again placed in a state of security. This accident was very near costing us dearly. Believing this vessel to be the most steady and safe, we had embarked on board of it our instruments, papers, medicine, and the most valuable part of the merchandise which we had still in reserve as presents for the Indians.

We had also embarked on board ourselves, with three men who could not swim and the squaw with the young child, all of whom, had the pirogue overset, would most probably have perished, as the waves were high, and the pirogue upwards of yards from the nearest shore. However, we fortunately escaped, and pursued our journey under the square sail, which, shortly after the accident, I directed to be again hoisted.

Our party caught 3 beaver last evening, and the French hunters, 7. As there was much appearance of beaver just above the entrance of the Little Missouri , these hunters concluded to remain some days. We therefore left them without the expectation of seeing them again. Just above the entrance of the Little Missouri , the Great Missouri is upwards of a mile in width, though immediately at the entrance of the former it is not more than yards wide and so shallow that the canoes passed it with setting poles. At the distance of 9 miles, passed the mouth of a creek on the starboard side which we called Onion Creek from the quantity of wild onions which grow in the plains on its borders.

Captain Clark , who was on shore, informed me that this creek was 16 yards wide a mile and a half above its entrance, discharges more water than creeks of its size usually do in this open country, and that there was not a stick of timber of any description to be seen on its borders, or the level plain country through which it passes.

Saw some buffalo and elk at a distance today, but killed none of them. We found a number of carcasses of the buffalo lying along shore, which had been drowned by falling through the ice in winter, and lodged on shore by the high water when the river broke up about the first of this month. We saw also many tracks of the white bear of enormous size, along the river shore and about the carcasses of the buffalo, on which I presume they feed. We have not as yet seen one of these animals, though their tracks are so abundant and recent.

The men, as well as ourselves, are anxious to meet with some of these bear.

Mandan - Wikipedia

The Indians give a very formidable account of the strength and ferocity of this animal, which they never dare to attack. The savages attack this animal with their bows and arrows and the indifferent guns with which the traders furnish them. With these they shoot with such uncertainty and at so short a distance that, unless shot through head or heart wound not mortal, they frequently miss their aim and fall a sacrifice to the bear. Two Minnetarees were killed during the last winter in an attack on a white bear This animal is said more frequently to attack a man on meeting with him, than to flee from him.

When the Indians are about to go in quest of the white bear, previous to their departure they paint themselves and perform all those superstitious rites commonly observed when they are about to make war upon a neighboring nation. One of the hunters saw an otter last evening and shot at it, but missed it. A dog came to us this morning, which we supposed to have been lost by the Indians who were recently encamped near the lake that we passed yesterday.

The mineral appearances of salts, coal, and sulphur, together with burned hills and pumice stone, still continue. While we remained at the entrance of the Little Missouri , we saw several pieces of pumice stone floating down that stream, a considerable quantity of which had lodged against a point of driftwood a little above its entrance.

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Captain Clark walked on shore this morning, and on his return informed me that he had passed through the timbered bottoms on the N. In the bottom lands he had met with several uninhabited Indian lodges built with the boughs of the elm, and in the plains he met with the remains of two large encampments of a recent date, which from the appearance of some hoops of small kegs seen near them, we concluded that they must have been the camps of the Assiniboines , as no other nation who visit this part of the Missouri ever indulge themselves with spirituous liquor.

Of this article the Assiniboines are passionately fond, and we are informed that it forms their principal inducement to furnish the British establishments on the Assiniboine River with the dried and pounded meat and grease which they do. The mineral appearances still continue. Considerable quantities of bituminous water, about the color of strong lye, trickle down the sides of the hills.

This water partakes of the taste of Glauber salts and slightly of alum. While the party halted to take dinner today, Captain Clark killed a buffalo bull. It was meager, and we therefore took the marrowbones and a small proportion of the meat only. Near the place we dined, on the larboard side, there was a large village of burrowing squirrels. I have remarked that these animals generally select a southeasterly exposure for their residence, though they are sometimes found in the level plains.

Passed an island above which two small creeks fall in on the larboard side; the upper creek largest, which we called Charbonneau's Creek , after our interpreter, who encamped several weeks on it with a hunting party of Indians. This was the highest point to which any white man had ever ascended, except two Frenchmen-one of whom, Lepage , was now with us-who, having lost their way, had straggled a few miles farther, though to what place precisely I could not learn.

In his letter of instruction to Lewis, Jefferson indicated all that he hoped the would be learned on the journey. The primary goals for the expedition were to establish trade ties with the Native American people and to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson also had a strong interest in scientific discovery, and asked that accurate maps be drawn, and previously unknown plants, animals, and minerals be noted and collected.

This shipment included natural history and Native American artifacts.

Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans
Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans
Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans
Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans
Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans Red Deer: Life Among the Mandans

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