Short Description of Fort Clark and its Surroundings
[Page 3:59]History of the fort – Location – Description – Climate – Soil – Geological formation of the area – Plants – Animals – Surrounding Indian population – Indian villages.
The famous travelers Lewis and Clark give information about this area in their work. The time of their presence here was in the years 1803 and 1804 and 18 [—— ]. They spent the winter in the vicinity of the Mandan villages. They built a fort on the left bank of the Missouri about [— —] paces above today’s fort, but no traces of their fort have been seen for a long time. The river has changed its bed in this region so much that the site of the former fort is now in the middle of the river. At the time of its existence, it was likely located [— —] paces from the riverbank. Such changes in the riverbed of the Missouri are a very common occurrence. That is why all charts of the river remain correct for only a very short time regarding to special details such as islands, sandbars, small bends, and the points of land resulting from the [latter].M1Above the Hidatsa villages is a place where the river cut off a point of land, and the course is now about four miles from the earlier riverbed. This happened in 1828. According to some, the Lewis and Clark fort would now be located on the right bank of the Missouri. Charbonneau, a French Canadian who has known this area for many years and who has been an interpreter for the nation of the Hidatsas or Gros Ventres for a considerable time, was here at the same time as those travelers. He spent the winter in their fort and accompanied them to the Columbia. Usually he lived in the second Hidatsa village, [called] Awatichai. Thirty-seven years ago he came here and has lived continuously with the Hidatsas, excluding a few trips and shorter absences. He has become fully acquainted with their language, traditions, and customs.
In the year 1822 Mr. Kipp, a Canadian of German heritage, came here in the service of the Columbia Fur Company. At that time no fort existed. Major Pilcher, the same one who traveled with us upriver from St. Louis to assume Mr. Cabanné’s post with the Omahas, was at that time part owner of the Missouri Fur Company and in charge of a fort a little above the Hidatsa villages on the right bank of the Missouri. During the same spring of Mr. Kipp’s arrival, that fort was abandoned because the Missouri Fur Company closed down. In May of the same year, Mr. Kipp began to build on the prairie in a location between today’s fort and the winter quarters of the inhabitants of Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch. This building phase was completed in November. In the summer of the same year  Colonel Leavenworth came by ship with a significant number of troops, cannon, and an auxiliary corps of Dacota Indians to the Arikara villages in order to punish that nation, because they had recently attacked General Ashley’s keelboats and killed about eighteen men and wounded many others. Residents along the Missouri maintained that this punitive force made very little effort at the undertaking. The troops [drew back] Lewis and Clark’s [journey], this nation was friendly. Now they are the bitterest enemies of the white man and have murdered more of them than any other nation along the Missouri. After Leavenworth’s departure the Arikaras moved higher up the Missouri and settled in the same forest [where] the Mandans now have their lower winter quarters. Mr. Tilton, who was in charge of the fort built by Mr. Kipp (he was only a clerk of the company Starapat, Little Hawk With Bloody Hand,M2Here this Arikara chief is usually called la Main Pleine de Sang. killed one of Tilton’s people close to the gate of the fort. Three white men who came from the Rocky Mountains were ambushed by the Arikaras and forced to abandon their canoes and escape in great danger to the opposite bank of the river.[Page 3:60] That same fall , five men in the service of the French Fur Company existing at that time came upriver. They wanted to carry on trade with the Mandans and the Arikaras. They met the latter in the vicinity of the Cannonball River ; all five of them were killed.
[From 3:289:] The five men who were killed had a goods-laden boat; three of them pulled it on a cordelle. One of them [had] lived eight years among the Arikaras and spoke their language fluently. On the Little Missouri, Charbonneau had advised these people not to expose themselves to danger. But they were blind to [the risk] and did not want to believe in it. When they had [gone] part of the distance, they were discovered by an Arikara spy, who immediately informed his war party of sixty men, who were not far away. The people in the boat noticed this [yet] still had no suspicion. When the Arikaras approached, they called to the two men in the boat [to] land. When the clerk Langevin, who sat at the helm, saw that they would die, he begged [the Arikaras] not to kill them, that they would turn over all their goods. The answer was, “You talk very silly today. The goods are ours anyway, and we have to kill you to salve our wounds with your fat. With [your] wares you will pay for our corn. ” With that [statement], they referred to the feeble attack of Colonel Leavenworth, when their various [belongings] of the Arikaras were destroyed and some of [their people] were wounded and killed, too. The clerk at the helm had a comrade among the Arikaras, the partisan of the party, [who] sat on the bank with his head lowered. Langevin turned to him and asked him if he might protect them. The Indians waited a while with quiet tension [and] then asked the partisan what they should do. And his answer was, “I gave them to you. ” A general barrage of gunfire ensued, and the white men were shot down.
Messrs. Tilton and Kipp, as well as their people, did not dare to leave the fort, where they remained confined all winter fall. [Mr. Kipp] lived in the Mandan village Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch until the fort was completely finished, even though this nation was at peace with the Arikaras. He lived in the lodge of the distinguished chief Tóhpka-Singkä (Four Men), who protected him from any attack. 8 When the man mentioned above [one of Tilton’s men] was shot near the fort, the Mandans and the Hidatsas wanted to declare war on the Arikaras. But it was not permitted, because the people of the Columbia Fur Company, who had to come to this place overland from Lake Traverse and [the] St. Peter’s [Minnesota] River, would have suffered from it. At the beginning of December, Mr. Laidlaw (who is now on the Little Missouri [Bad River]) arrived here with six loaded wagons from Lake Traverse, whereupon something like a peace treaty was made with the Arikaras. They [only] came to the fort because they could not obtain merchandise anywhere else. One was always careful to admit only a few of them at a time into the fort.
In 1823 [sic, 1824] (January) Mr. Laidlaw returned to the fort on Lake Traverse.M3With heavily loaded dogsleds on snow, the trip from Lake Traverse to the villages of the Mandans on the Missouri took eleven days (see Major Long to St. Peter’s River, vol. 1, p. 434). The peace with the Arikaras did not last long. They always behaved badly. It finally became dangerous [just] to fetch wood, water, and other necessary things. [The Arikaras] threatened frequently, and in February Mr. Tilton left the fort [and] went to the lower Mandan village. From there Mr. Tilton went downriver in spring to St. Louis with all his people [while] Mr. Kipp stayed behind alone. That spring the Arikaras returned to their old villages, declaring that in the future they would not kill any more white men and would live in harmony with them. Mr. Kipp did not see one white man the whole summer. He had the merchandise and the skins with him in the lodge of the chief (whose son Síh-Chidä, now about twenty-five years old, was mentioned many times in the preceding chapter). A small Cheyenne war party came to the vicinity to steal horses and killed two Mandans. They themselves did not lose a man. On 1 December of this year  Mr. Jeffers from the Columbia Fur Company came with seven men and five wagons overland from [the] St. Peter’s [Minnesota] River and stayed in the Mandan village over [the] winter. Mr. Kipp built a house beside the village, where they lived together.
On 4 April 1824  Jeffers went back again overland to Lake Traverse. Kipp kept only two men with him. The Mandans had protected the abandoned fort. Some of them lived in it so that the Arikaras would not burn it down. In summer Kipp had his two men chop off the old pickets at ground level with axes. He commissioned the Mandans to bring this wood to the village, which [was done] by two men [carrying] some on their shoulders, [while] some was shipped upriver. The buildings were also torn down. Kipp expanded his house that summer by two rooms and set up all the pickets salvaged from the old fort. Because he did not have enough merchandise [to carry on] the fur trade, he sent Charbonneau, who [had been] in the service of the Columbia Fur Company since Kipp’s [arrival], with another man to Lake Traverse to get a wagonload of merchandise. On the way back Charbonneau came across a troop of Assiniboines. He [and] his companion abandoned the merchandise, wagon, and horses and saved [themselves]. Everything was lost. The Crows arrived at that time with good pelts and skins. The store of the fort was not sufficiently stocked with merchandise. Therefore, Mr. Kipp himself traveled with two half-breed Indians to Lake Traverse and brought back a wagon full of merchandise.[Page 3:61] On his way back he saw a camp of the Saones (Dacotas) and went around it; he lost his horses in the night but, luckily, found them again. When he [arrived], General Atkinson had been to the Mandan villages with 500 to 600 men and had sailed upriver as far as Milk River. [Atkinson] returned that same summer , and hostilities almost broke out between the Crows, who were present near the Mandan villages, and the military. The French Fur Company had sent with the troops two or three men who were trading in the Mandan and Hidatsa villages in competition. Mr. Bissonette was their first trader. In [the] fall Mr. Tilton came upriver on a keelboat carrying merchandise. Kipp had sent some men to the Assiniboines, Crees, and Ojibwes to invite their leaders here so that they might put together a peace and trade treaty. The troops had brought a certain Wilson upriver with them as an agent of the United States for the local Indians. All these men now lived together in the fort. Peace between the white men and the previously mentioned three Indian tribes, as well as the Mandans and Hidatsas, came to pass. [The whites] wanted to draw [the Indians’] trade down from the north to the Missouri, because [the Indians] had been trading with the British.
Messrs. Wilson and Tilton spent the winter in Mr. Kipp’s fort but traveled back to St. Louis in April 1825 . Kipp remained at the fort with five men. In November Tilton came back on a keelboat with merchandise. Kipp moved that same month with an assortment of merchandise upriver to White Earth River, where he built a new fort a little to this side of the mouth of the river to trade furs with the Assiniboines. He spent the winter there.
In April 1826  Kipp went downriver to Liberty because he was ill. In spring 1827  he traveled upriver to Fort Tecumseh, not far from the mouth of the Teton River (Little Missouri) [Bad River]. He returned again to the Mandan [villages] in a mackinaw boat with five men and carried on trade there in [the] fall. That same fall the Dacotas attacked the Mandans and Hidatsas and killed fiftynine of the latter, two Mandans, and a Crow who happened to be there. [That] same year the American Fur Company began to trade here on the Missouri. During Kipp’s illness the Columbia Fur Company had merged with the American Fur Company. Mr. Picotte came upriver and built a fort on the White Earth River, a short distance above Kipp’s house. [In 1828?] the Arikaras killed a halfbreed half - breed Indian by shooting through the pickets into the Mandan fort. Two hundred [Arikara?] Indians also came this year to the other riverbank. The Mandans immediately crossed the river, chased them away, and killed seven of them. Relations had broken [between these tribes] in the preceding spring.
In summer 1829 Mr. Kipp traveled to the Yellowstone. There, close to the mouth of that river, Mr. Kenneth Mc Kenzie had founded Fort Union in the year 1828. Kipp stayed in his place as [Mc Kenzie] had traveled downriver to St. Louis in spring 1829. In December of the same year, Mr. Mc Kenzie came back, and in January 1830, Kipp returned to the Mandans and took over his fort again. In [the] winter of this year, he had wood prepared for the present fort, and in springM4The Arikaras had again murdered several white men this year, among them three men on the Heart River. Three engagés came with goods from the Little Missouri (Teton River) [Bad River] to trade with the Mandans. They met an Arikara war party below the mouth of the Heart River, and all three of them were murdered. When two of them were killed, a loaded mule fled. They told the only man remaining alive, a mulatto, that they wanted to spare his life. He should get the mule and ride away on it. But he [had] hardly turned his back when they shot him, too. Many Arikaras were said to have been opposed to the murder of these men; Pachtüwa- Chtä (‘ach’ velar, everything articulated short and together), whose portrait is Tab. ([——]), was in particular the cause of their demise. 1831, the pickets were erected, and Mr. Mitchell came and took over this new fort, which he completed to a certain degree. It was called Fort Clark. In July Kipp traveled to [the] Marias River (Marayon) [among] the Blackfoot Indians, where he and forty-five men built a new fort—more about it further above (p. [— —]). We have seen its ruins. He stayed there until spring 1832 and then came back to take over Fort Clark again.[Page 3:62] Mr. Mitchell traveled to the Blackfoot and built Fort Piegan there, a short distance farther up than Kipp’s fort at the mouth of the Marias River. A short time ago it was renamed Fort Mc Kenzie. Kipp has stayed here since that time [and is] charged with supervising Fort Clark.
Small skirmishes with the Sioux have taken place in the vicinity. Mr. Lamont, part owner of the American Fur Company, was here in [the] winter [of] 1832–1833 and managed the fort. Kipp was subordinate to him as clerk. One evening as they sat at the fireplace, a shot was fired at them, without doubt by a Sioux or [an] Arikara, but nobody was hit. The Mandans have been in this area [throughout] Mr. Kipp’s eleven-year presence, always [with] the same [population] size and in the same locations.
Trade with the Indians has almost always been the same: sometimes better, sometimes worse. The merchandise [stayed at] more or less the same price, until its value was increased through competition. In the year 1833, one had to deal with the competition of Messrs.Sublette and Campbell.M5Messrs. Sublette and Campbell have suffered considerable loss this fall (1833). They had sent a troop of about sixty men with merchandise into the mountains, and because of there was a misunderstanding with the Crow nation, who plundered from them nearly 180 150 horses and most of their merchandise. They returned only some bad horses. The traders suffer such adversities in those regions, even from non-hostile Indians. Not one of them can be trusted after the smallest insult. One must sometimes pay twelve dollars (thirty Rhenish florins) for a good-sized beaver, but its worth is no more than four dollars in the United States. The Indians now demand mostly horses [in exchange] for their beavers. Because Mr. Kipp did not have enough of them, he sent [a message] to the Little Missouri to have a few more delivered from there. Messrs. Sublette and Campbell had [placed] one of their people in each village. One of their clerks, Mr. Dougherty, the brother of the Indian agent, stayed with the Hidatsas; he [intended] to build a fort in the central village. Besides Charbonneau, Mr. Kipp had another trader [among] the Hidatsas [who] visited these villages by sled in winter.
It is now time to say something about the nation just mentioned. When Charbonneau came here thirty-seven years ago, he immediately moved in with the Hidatsas. He lived in the central village. The three villages existed then, exactly as now. No trade had been instituted between here and St. Louis. Charbonneau, as the only white man in this area, obtained his necessities from the British traders in the north. In the year of his arrival among the Hidatsas, the Sioux, about 1,300 to 1,400 men strong and united with about 700 Arikaras, attacked the first Mandan village. About 1,000 Hidatsas rushed to the aid of the latter. They beat the enemy and killed more than 100 men, among them the son of White Cow (Tánahah-Táhka), an Arikara chief. Since then the Arikaras have moved their villages farther downriver, where they are still to be seen. They formerly lived in the point of forest below the one now inhabited in winter by the Mandans of MihTutta-Hangkusch. They left all their belongings in their villages. The Arikaras have returned often since that time but never in such a mass. Five to six years before Charbonneau moved here, 1,500 [tipis] of Dacotas came to visit the Hidatsa villages in the area. A Hidatsa couple, husband and wife, returned from the Crows and were killed by several Sioux. The Hidatsas avenged themselves by killing five Dacotas, who happened to be [there], and then a war broke out. The Sioux surrounded the village, and the Hidatsas could get neither water nor wood; the Missouri river was a little distant from the villages. They remained [besieged] for nine days and drank water only from dirty puddles near and in the village. The horses [herded] into the lodges were hungry and thirsty and ate the bark from the wood of the lodges. A chief, called Ihtä-Süpishä (Black Shoe), shot eleven Dacotas from his lodge, on which he had built himself a kind of bulwark, and then he was shot, too.[Page 3:63] On the ninth day, the elders gave the order that the young warriors should advance toward the enemy on horseback while the whole population of the villages [sic] would get water from the river in all kinds of containers. When the Dacotas saw the attack [coming], they took down their [tipis] and had the women and children pull back, escorting them across the hill chain. Of the horses that [the Hidatsas] rode into the river, eighty died, because they could not restrain them from drinking excessively. They pursued the Sioux and killed many of them. During Charbonneau’s time another war party of the same nation came to the hill chain on the other side of the Missouri and made challenging signs. There were only eighteen men in the large Hidatsa village (Eláh EláhSá); the others were hunting. But in the Village des Souliers (Awacháhwi), all the men were there, and the Mandans crossed the river with [the Hidatsas] on horseback to attack. They reached a ravine where they faced the enemy. The Dacotas shouted to them that they wanted to smoke with them, at a distance. They all sat down, held their pipes toward each other from a distance, and smoked. When that was done, the partisan of the Sioux stepped forward and shouted to the opposing party: they were there to do battle. They knew they confronted men and therefore suggested fighting only in the open and avoiding the forest completely, which was accepted by the Mandans and the Hidatsas. They moved onto the plain and attacked each other.
Two Mandans, Bídda-Apuckschá (Coal) and Itepan-Schüpischä́ (Black Cat), had an argument and wanted to see who would fight the best. The Sioux pushed back their enemies, who had already begun to retreat toward the forest. Coal retreated with them. Then Black Cat shouted to the former that [since] he had claimed to be so brave, did his actions now agree with that contention? BíddaApuckschá pulled himself together and rode to Itepan-Schüpischä́, gripped him by the arm, and said to him, “Well, we will die together!” They turned around and rode into the enemy. When the rest of their people saw this, they all turned around and attacked with newfound strength, and the enemy fled. Many enemies were killed. Charbonneau knew both men.
Another time a Dacota war party came to the wide prairie opposite the Village des Souliers. The Hidatsas crossed the river, fought with them, and pursued them to the two creeks (twenty miles by boat) below on the left bank of the Missouri. The Sioux always stayed near the Missouri to divert their enemies from the encampment in the hills, where their women and children were. One Sioux, beautifully adorned with a crown of feathers and hair braids [?], stayed along the ridge. The old Hidatsa chief Ehtach-Pasüpischä (‘ch’ velar) (Black Boot) followed this man, and he had a far better horse. When the Sioux saw himself pursued so closely, he dismounted, as did [Black Boot], and they attacked each other with their knives. Black Boot killed his foe. The enemies were beaten, forty-eight of them killed. Only three Hidatsas died. The Mandans had supported their neighbors and friends. Charbonneau was a spectator to this skirmish. That night they danced the scalp dance.
Ten or eleven years ago, the Hidatsas set up an antelope park, and one of the people who was carrying the necessary wood from ravines was killed by Assiniboines hiding there. The relatives fetched the body and were [ready] to put it on a scaffold when about thirty Assiniboines with two calumets came to the village to make peace. They did not know that another band of their people had just killed a Hidatsa.[Page 3:64] All [the] inhabitants rushed together, immediately killed about twenty Assiniboines, [ and] took three women captive; only a few got away. Both sides often kill individuals; [it] happens even now. Three weeks before our arrival at Fort Clark, three Assiniboines crawled to a point near to the riverbank opposite the fort and made signs to be picked up. A man and two women went over in a [bullboat], and they shot the former.
Five years ago a large number of Sioux and Cheyennes came to attack the Hidatsa villages. Some [Cheyennes] threw themselves between the [Hidatsas] and the Mandan villages to prevent the latter from giving assistance. The Hidatsas moved out separately from each of their villages, that is, in three groups; each was encircled by the enemy. This fight was already mentioned above. Many Hidatsas, two Mandans, and one Crow Indian [were killed.] From the former [the dead included] a chief, Uschéh-Laskíhti, and also two outstanding warriors: Bohtsa-Óhcheti (‘ch’ velar) (Little Prairie Wolf) and Itsúhpa (Leg Bone, l’Os de la Jambe).
Fort Clark, as it presently exists, is located approximately [— —] paces above the fort Lewis and Clark built in the year 18 [— —] on the opposite riverbank at [— —] ° [— —]. [It is] on a moderate elevation approximately 80 to 90 paces from the Missouri, which comes down from [the] northwest (hora 8). The Mandan village Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch is located approximately 300 paces upriver from the fort on a steep, rather high, and slightly protruding bank. Beneath this bank is a small area with a few bushes, and immediately beneath that is a tenhigh slope of the bank. A creekM6Called Pach-Ohkirussá-Pássahä (the river in which the dishes are washed, la rivière où on lave les plats). opens into the Missouri about 212 paces below the fort. It has high steep clay banks and divides into two branches at a distance of 250 paces away from the river. One of them flows farther south; the other comes down approximately 680 to 700 paces behind the fort, after it flows out of the hills onto the flat prairie. The hill chain defines the background of the prairie and encloses the area on that side. The ground in the creek valley is overgrown with grass, and in its many bends, one sees bushes and tall plants on the banks, mainly Solidago [but] also others of the Syngenesia, in which Fringilla linaria and Emberiza nivalis [can be found] in small flocks; they look for seeds [there] during winter. In spring and fall, [there are] ducks on this brook, which is inhabited by river turtles. A species of Unio can also be found there. As soon as it freezes, which happened in November 1833, the ducks fly away. Before that time in fall and in spring they can be found on ponds and lakes a few miles from here—along with wild geese, swans, cranes, pelicans, etc. About one hour below the fort, the Missouri takes a turn eastor northeastward. On the bank there is a forest where the inhabitants of Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch have built their winter village, containing sixty to seventy lodges. Above the fort the path (mostly on the flat prairie) is unimpeded from Mih Hangkusch to the second Mandan village, Ruhptare; only a few small ravines with bushes break up the area. Pheasants, or prairie hens (Tetrao phasianellus), are usually found in those ravines. On the left bank of the Missouri, opposite the fort, [there] is a forest of cottonwood, elm, box elder, and ash with dense underbrush consisting of all kinds of shrubs, which extends up to the prairie hills. Many prairie hens can be found there. The inhabitants of Ruhptare live in this forest in winter, opposite their summer village.M7Indian wigwams of the Sauks or
Iowas.There are a great many lakes in this area, especially on the other side of the Missouri, probably twenty-five within two days’ travel, or somewhat more. A salt lake is located a little more than two days distant. In summer it [deposits] a band of bitter salt all the way around its edge, often four fingers thick; the Indians use [it] with their meals. They say it is not a laxa- tive, and they use only a very small amount at a time. Most of the small lakes in the area have this feature. There are no forests in their vicinity, except for one.
Fort Clark itself is [laid out] as a quadrangle. Its front and back are 44 of my paces long, the sides 49 paces long. Two blockhouses, one in the northern and the other in the southern corner, defend the approach. The pickets are shaped like those of all forts along the Missouri.[Page 3:65] The buildings are located inside around the square yard. A [new] one was [just] built with two bright and spacious rooms. This one had glass windows; the others mostly had shutters of parchment. All buildings are only one story. We were given our living quarters in the new building. Every day
Three times daily, with one horse hitched to them, wagons (and after it snows, sleds) went to the lower forest near the Mandans to get needed firewood, because there was none in storage. The drawback was very much in evidence, as we always got green, somewhat wet wood. Mr. Kipp did not have enough men to cut firewood for storage. He also lacked a carpenter to complete our quarters in time. Therefore, we had a room poorly insulated against the cold, where snow came in through the windows and the door, and a cold draft prevailed.
In winter the traffic toward the forest of the lower Mandan village runs on the broad border of ice on the Missouri, [which] saves much walking distance. Even in winter there were always many Indians in the fort. They usually brought corn, which they fetched from caches in their summer village. They traded it for merchandise; at the beginning, [they traded] their beavers, too. These were very well paid for because of the competition [at the time] with Messrs. Sublette and Campbell, as mentioned [above].
They did not have enough dogs in the fort. Right now there were only eight—too few to be used for the sleds. They were locked out during the night and roved around the outside of the fort, the gates of which were closed before dusk. The machinery used to pack the robes and hides was in front of the back gate. Each pack of ten robes weighs 100 pounds. A small piece of land was cleared for a garden plot behind the fort. Close by, in some areas in the valley of the creek, a few Indians have set up small fields [planted] with Indian corn and squash. There is usually little hunting from the fort. If the weather is not very cold and stormy, the buffalo herds usually are at least twenty miles away, because of the many Indians. However, in bad weather, they move to the forest along the river to shelter themselves against the snowstorms, and [then] many of them are shot. The Indians seldom go far to hunt, because [only in large parties are they safe from] their many enemies. Horse fodder was sufficiently [available] in the fort; however, most of the horses were traded for beaver pelts. The horses are treated harshly. They spend long winter nights in snowstorms under open sky. They stand in the yard of the fort without any cover, not moving, their backs often covered with snow or white from hoarfrost.
The dogs also have to spend the nights in snow and ice. When it is not too cold and the snow is not too deep, the horses are driven out during the day. A young Mandan Indian, Síh SíhSä, was sometimes in charge. Fort Clark did not own any cattle or other domesticated animals except for about thirty chickens, which start to lay in March. There is a variety [of chicken] here with yellow legs and a bare yellow patch of skin on the cheek. Cattle would be in danger because many Indians consider them a medicine detrimental to [successful] buffalo hunting.[Page 3:66] They would therefore perhaps kill or [otherwise] get rid of them. A single tame cat existed in the fort; [this animal,] however, did not help to lessen the tremendous plague of rats. These (Mus decumanus, Norway rat) were so troublesome and numerous that one could not keep any supplies safe from them. They especially [went] after the corn, and [by] one estimate they consumed five bushels of corn (pounds, [as] one bushel [of] corn weighs fifty pounds) daily. Often there are 500 to 800 bushels of this grain on hand in the fort. The rats came here on the ships of the white man. In the Hidatsa villages, rats did not presently exist. Seven of these rats were seen on the trails [to the villages] from Fort Clark, and all of them [were] killed; if not, this plague would be there, too, by now. Mr. Kipp felt compelled during our stay to build a scaffold in the yard, on strong smooth poles. The supply of corn was laid outside [on this] and covered with hides to secure it from the rats. At first we had no rats in our new room, but they soon gnawed holes in the floorboards so we could enjoy their visits; we killed several, however. They ruled undisturbed over the corn in the attic, until we put our small, tamed prairie fox up there, which chased them away.
The only neighbors of the fort are the Indian villages, which will be described in the next chapter. They are surrounded by their scaffolds for the dead, which [are] to a strange sight. Especially in summer, when the wind blows from that direction, the odors are neither pleasant nor particularly salutary. In summer the Indians enliven the prairie, engaged in various activities; their horses graze there in numbers. But in winter the area is very lifeless, monotonous, the wide snowy expanse animated by neither humans nor animals; at most, [there are solitary] roaming wolves, which can be observed all day long. On the ice of the river there is usually more life, since the Indians go occasionally from their winter village to their summer village and the fort. Women, children, men, and dogs pulling small sleds can be seen all day long. The children from the fort go sledding on the ice, and the engagés ice skate sometimes on Sunday.Extensive floods are rare. Since Charbonneau has been here, hence for thirty-seven years, there were only two of them, but these were immense. During the first and worst one, they say the water level rose more than forty feet above average. Only the very tops of the high cottonwoods were visible. Ice lay on the dry land for a month before the sun melted it. The second flood hap- pened on 6 April 1826. At that time, Charbonneau was living in the central Hidatsa village. The water rose at daybreak so fast and so high that it forced him to flee two miles from the river and to climb onto a corn scaffold with a few of his possessions. He spent three days [on the scaffold] without fire, in a cold north wind and snow flurries. The water rose twenty-five feet. Fifteen [tipis] of the Sioux drowned altogether downriver from Isle Sèche near the Grand Rivière, below the Arikara villages. In the wooded headland near the mouth of the Cheyenne River lived a certain Pascal Seré, who traded with the Sioux. When the water rose, he fled with his merchandise on top of his house. This, however, was lifted up by the water and moved a long distance downstream, where the ice had formed a dam. The water moved the house into a forest on the riverbank and put it down there undamaged. There are said to have been no earthquakes on the Missouri yet; they are known to occur on the Mississippi.
The climate of this area is generally healthy. But spring [and] fall, as well as winter, bring several minor indispositions. Completely lacking medical help, some die from these, especially Indians. Also, in the winter that we stayed there, several epidemics afflicted many people, even whites. Whooping cough took many children; diarrhea and stomach disorders also took several. This past summer, cholera raged on the lower Missouri, [and] some believed it [was] here. Because of the rapid and frequent changes of weather, catarrhs are frequent among the naked Indians. Fever is unknown here. Spring usually brings much rain, storms, and snow—[generally] bad weather—sometimes there are snowstorms late in May, [and] Indians can die on the prairie. Last year in April a father and son perished.M8 The leaves of plants do not open before May; also no plants are said to bloom earlier on the prairie. July is the only month when it does not freeze at all; before and after, there is always frost during the night.
[Page 3:67]Summer is generally dry and hot, but the heat is not as onerous as on the Mississippi, although on the prairie it often gets quite oppressive. Summer brings a great misery with its numerous mosquitoes (Tipula), but [these are] not [present in] the same quantity every year. Last summer they were not numerous. In the hot season, the creeks and small brooks dry up.M9 Brackenridge, Views of Louisiana, p. 32. Often the Indians’ corn does not mature well because of dryness. In 1833 it did not turn out especially well, although not completely badly.
Fall is usually the most pleasant season. Fair, bright days and moderate heat dominate. The leaves fall in October, and there have been years when the trees were still not green at the end of May.M10Often the fall change comes fast and severe. In one case there was beautiful, clear, warm weather on 17 October, and on 18 October, such a frost and snowstorm that two Indians froze to death on the prairie. The Indians call April “horse winter” (March, too), because the horses are often taken to pasture if the weather is warm, [and] very heavy snowstorms kill many of them. The difference [made by] a few days’ travel downriver on the Missouri is often very significant. In some years in the Arikara villages, squashes are already being harvested when they are only blooming at the [villages of the] Mandans. The forest is blooming there, when leaves here are still in bud, and farther downriver it is naturally more and more so. Winter is long and usually severe. Most species of animals move away; therefore the winter fauna species are not numerous. The snow seldom measures more than two feet. But the snow stays on the ground the whole time, into March. There are terrible snowstorms that darken the air, when those lost on the prairie are in danger and often lose their lives. A compass is then and in general an important, highly useful instrument on these prairies. In 1822 the winter was extremely mild, and there was hardly any snow. One cannot remember such a winter for many years. The Missouri usually freezes in November—last year on 23 November. On 24 March the ice floated away. In winter 1833, the river stopped flowing in some places on 23 November [and] one could cross it a few days later at those places. Near the fort it is seldom frozen solid. Usually [there is] an open channel but not a long expanse. One cannot compare the freezing over of the Missouri in this area, which stays absolutely solid all winter long, with that of other large rivers, for instance, with that of our Rhine, because the Missouri has far less water and current during that season and freezes far easier. In the eleven years of his stay, Mr. Kipp remembers the coldest temperature as −36°F [−37.7°C].M11Usually around New Year’s, a very cold period of about a week is said to happen, and this was the case during our stay. The Indians have named one of the moons after it, the one of the seven cold days. The winter of 1833 to 1834 is considered to have been one of the most severe. The temperature fell for several days, so much that the mercury stayed [frozen] in the bulb. At Fort Union it was −47°[F] [−43.9°C] the whole time. Here [it was] the same for several days.
East and north winds usually bring bad weather: snow and rain. North and northwest winds are cold. Spring and fall bring severe storms, and few days are without wind, which [is true] generally for all the seasons. In a cold winter, the sun often has sundogs. In fall and winter spring, magnificent northern lights sometimes occur. In winter [they are] very seldom seen, in summer more frequently, by comparison. About the climate at Fort Clark where we spent the winter, see the tables at the end of the Tagebuch (p. 300 and following). Additional earlier observations, like those at Fort Union, were not made here.
The water of the Missouri is cold, refreshing, and very healthy. In summer and spring, it is usually murky; in winter when frost occurs, it is completely clear, something that has been noticed by several travelers. The water is usually bad in the creeks and brooks, with some taste of salt. The banks of the Missouri are frequently covered with an extremely thin white salty film. Lewis and Clark speak frequently of this phenomenon. The soil of this area is supposed to be generally fertile on the plains, especially between the hills and in the valleys. There is a layer of humus more than two feet deep. But severe dryness in summer and in winter causes some crops to fail. The almost unceasing wind dries out the soil too much, and the little moisture resulting from rain immediately [disappears]. As in countries with hot climates, dew is too little to sufficiently refresh and nourish the vegetation, [which] longs for moisture. If one puts dung on the prairie, one will find it dried out right away, turned to dust, and blown away by the winds. The Mandans and the Hidatsas raise nice corn and never fertilize. [Page 3:68]When the field is exhausted after many years, they let it lie fallow and cultivate another piece of land, of which there seems to be an immeasurable amount in this wide wilderness. [It] has been suggested to them to fertilize with dung, [an idea] that they, however, laugh at. Mr. Kipp would like to make a test and fertilize some exhausted Indian land and have some soil spread over it so that the winds cannot destroy it. In this manner he hopes to convince the Indians, [who are] stubborn and attached to their old prejudices. They have various extremely fine kinds of corn (see the following chapter).M12Mr. Kipp has run tests several times with blue- flowered potatoes, and they turned out fairly well, but the Indians were so greedy for them that he could not keep any seed potatoes. An Indian in Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch kept potatoes [for cultivation]. Without doubt he will have so many in a few years that this kind will be propagated everywhere.
Concerning the natural formation of the soil, it likely consists mainly of clay, sand, and sandstone. All the hill chains that traverse the prairies and of which a row runs along each bank of the Missouri, bordering the river valley, consist of clay mixed with sand and sandstone. They [contain] many impressions and fossils of shells and a certain long fish shape [?]; these can be found everywhere on the Missouri and its tributaries, even now and then in the beds of brooks.
Fossilized animal bones are found frequently, indeed, even fourteento twentyfoot-long skeletons of crocodile-like animals completely [petrified].M13I have taken along many fossils and impressions from the banks of the Missouri [yet to be identified]. The bones of the mastodon, bivalve mussels, snails, and similar things are very frequent. In one of the Hidatsa villages, such old bones are kept as sacred objects, which I [was] not able to see.M14I have heard since that they are common buffalo bones. Metals are not to be found. However, the hill chains are permeated for many hundred miles with black, ribbonlike strips or, in fact, layers of lignite or bituminous coal of vegetable origin or charcoal, which burns easily with a strong odor of sulfur but does not give off sufficient heat to be used as a fuel or in forges. In many places it is clearly visible that these layers have burned. The clay surrounding them is often red from the fire, and the fragments are perfectly colored, hard, and resonate like our best roof tiles. Here at Fort Clark they have, incidentally, never heard of subterranean fires, but this has often been the case in the coal layers on the Missouri farther downriver, as [is noted] in several places in my journal.
The red clay hills mentioned just above seem to have risen due to fire. In the heights along the banks of the Missouri, they usually form protruding, often regular, strangely shaped conical peaks; [these are] often brick-red only at their tops, while the rest of the hill chain is colored whitish gray or pale brownish gray. One believes one sees in some places in the shallow lateral valleys burned-out craters, around which the red brick-cones form a more or less continuous ring. On the riverbank one finds slightly porous, cell-like, red-brown slag, which is known here as pumice stone.M15See Lewis and Clark’s travels vol. [——]. They are, however, very different from the actual European pumice-stone, and without doubt the local types of rock here [were] slagged by fire. The petrifactions can be expected only on the riverbanks and the banks of brooks. They likely occur just as often in the hill chains but are covered with a thick mat of grass on the prairie. Man has never disturbed the surface here [thus making] the inside layers visible. Despite that, twenty miles from the fort in the hills of the prairie there are places where the same type of products lay visible on the surface. But because of hostile Indians, access to this area is always extremely dangerous. They say petrified tree trunks [lie there, like those] I have seen on the banks of the Missouri. Some claim to have found petrified (rather, impressions of) crustaceans or similar creatures there.
The Indians tell about a petrified man [located] three to four days’ travel from the fort. The head is supposed to be round and lying detached from the body. The story about the head might not be correct, because they maintain [that they can] see a face on the stone [and] the rest of the skeleton is supposed to be there intact. Without doubt it belongs to a large prehistoric animal. It is regrettable that investigations on this land so rich in objects of this kind cannot be carried out freely and safely. They told me about the head of a colossal snake located on the upper Missouri. When I got a piece of its alleged tooth, it was that of a mastodon or elephant-like animal. I have already spoken occasionally at length in the journal of my travels about the extremely strange formation of the peaks bordering the valley of the upper Missouri in many places. Geologists will certainly be rewarded by traveling through this area. Unfortunately, one must be always prepared for an attack by the Indians. The area called Stone Walls is alone certainly worth a trip from Europe. At the sources of the La Platte [Platte River], the expedition of Major Long found strange sandstone formations similar to those that occur in Stone Walls. This type of rock formation might reach so far that it could be connected to that area.
Lime is supposedly found nowhere in the area around Fort Clark.
The wide prairies [and adjoining] hills are alive with numerous plants that have not yet been described. Bradbury collected many plants in the vicinity of the Mandan villages that were described afterward. Perhaps my herbarium can add a few new specimens, and I would be convinced of that if part of them had not been accidentally lost. The Missouri takes very many turns; hill chains [form] the borders of its valley. The river has always washed away or steeply sloped the hills, wherever it reached them. The Anglo-Americans call these steep slopes bluffs. Subsurface layers are visible mostly in the cuts of these hills, banks, or bluffs. The protruding headlands, and often other places on the banks also, are wooded. These woodlands consist mostly of tall branching cottonwood trees (Populus angulata), called liard by the French. [They] are, in the young thickets on the bank, mixed with two kinds of willows (Salix angustata and [— —]), with red willow (Cornus sericea), and [with] a dense, thorny underbrush of roses (Rosa [— —]), Symphoria, and a few other plants. In these woods of the upper Missouri grow also Fraxinus ([— —]), Ulmus, Acer negundo (box elder), [and] a type of oak (or perhaps a few). [There are] several kinds of currants (Ribes), Prunus padus (chokecherry),[Page 3:70] and in many places the buffalo berry or graines de boeufM16It is very comical that Brackenridge (see his Views of Louisiana, etc., p. 233 and in other places) always writes graisse de boeuf instead of graines de boeuf. I have received a variety or other specimens of this shrub with entirely white berries called white buffalo berries. (Elaeagnus argentea), [and] poires or serviceberries (Mespilus ?). [There are] several creepers; among [them] are individual Vitis stems (no longer [common?] here), Clematis virginiana (very common), Celastrus scandens, Humulus, and a few others. Juniperus prostrata grows and forms black-brown spots on the naked, barren hilltops. Juniperus virginiana, the red cedar, and another one similar to the European juniper occur on some steep slopes. There are no conifers in the vicinity of the Mandan villages. One has to travel farther upriver to find them. Birches (Betula) are not to be seen along the whole stretch of the Missouri I traveled. They occur only when one follows the tributaries, for instance the Knife River, where the Hidatsa villages are located, a three-day trip upriver. They are at the foot of the mountains located there, incorrectly called la cóte Noire, Black Hills, although they are only connected to them. The actual Black Hills is an interesting chain that cuts through the prairie. It has many fossils, plants, and animals not occurring here at the Missouri. The birch that grows there is the Betula papyracca, from whose bark the northern Indians made their canoes. A hunter brought me some bark from there. The tree is about as wide as a man, often even thicker in its trunk. The bark is lifted off in large sheets by separating it above and below ([in] parallel horizontal [sections]); it is cut from the sides and loosened in this direction with wooden wedges. It is dry and lifts off easily. On the inside there is a smooth, watery skin on which symbols were written, wherefrom the tree got its name. The plant that produces the Indian tobacco—the French call it sakkakomi ([— —])—also grows there. It has red berries that later turn blue. They have a sweet taste and are edible. The Black Hills are also interesting in a zoological respect: there is the panther (Felis concolor), several types of squirrels, and so on.
On the prairies that border the Missouri in the vicinity of Fort Clark, some species of cactus grow: Cactus ferox and a type related to the mammillaris that American botanists classify as the same, which, however, appears different to me. The latter grows close to the fort on the prairie; the former, a little farther away but in other places close to the Missouri. The plants endure the local cold winter here and remain grayish green. The types of grass on the prairie are not as diverse as one might think; near ponds, brooks, on the water, and other wet places there are several Typha [— —] and Arundo [——] occurring in ponds and marshes, the latter also near creeks and wet ditches. Several species of Solidago form small patches in the prairie. The prairie is overgrown even more so here and there with silverleafed Artemisia columbiensis and colored whitish by it. Those plants mentioned earlier from the group Syngenesia grow even more frequently along wet ditches [and] spots, and [along] creeks or brooks. Many other plants, [such as] ferns and moss [and] fungi, are very rare, and only a few occur. I have [only] come across a few; this is no location for cryptogamic plants at all. The main plants of the prairie should be listed here. In the area of Fort Clark, several officinal plants grow. [Page 3:71]Among them the yellow-blooming Brachyris euthamiae Nutt. (epinette de prairie) is especially frequent. All parts of it are very sticky and carry a highly aromatic scent. It is highly diuretic, and the tea is drunk with best results in the case of gonorrhea; for this purpose, whole blossoms are used fresh or dried. A small handful suffices for one cup of tea. Artemisia (sage, absinthe), with a very aromatic scent quite similar to that of European wormwood, is also officinal. It is bitter and makes a sudorific tea. The Indians use it for wounds and as a magic or medicine herb.M17Two species of it are known here. Many Several people who have lived in the Rocky Mountains a long time assured me that there the absinthe grew thirty feet tall, with whitish leaves and a thick wooden stem—particularly on the rivière de l’Absinthe that drops into the Yellowstone. Another [shorter], very salty plant grows there [and] forms circular spots on the ground. It is dry in summer and turns green in winter; it is supposed to fatten horses quickly. The bark of the white oak, the only species of oak occurring here (most probably another species than the white oak in the United States), infallibly stops diarrhea if one drinks the water decoction of it. One takes the decoction spoon by spoon until there is an effect. The black root, or snakeroot, is a bitter medicine for the stomach and is said to be used by Indians against bites of poisonous snakes.M18The French call it la racine noire. It grows on poor, stony, and dry heights. Its root, hardly finger-thick, descends perpendicularly deep into the ground. From a large plant, [the root] can be torn off [from] five feet deep in the ground. It is effective against toothaches and wounds. It is chewed, and a little of it is put on the wound or on the tooth. Many engagés maintain [that] one need only to suck the root or smear the shoes with the chewed root and no rattlesnake would touch a person but rather, [the snake would] flee right away. Another plant, called colt’s foot, makes a very effective tea against diarrhea. The tea of Mentha ([— —]) is also supposed to be very pleasant, healthy, stomachsoothing, and sudorific. The Americans call the plant balsam (balm). There are many kinds of officinal plants on the upper Missouri but no doctors to apply them.
There are several edible berries. The poire, or serviceberry, (Mespilus [— —]) is likely the most healthy and best tasting. The currants (Ribes) and gooseberries are also fairly good to eat. They occur in great quantities as underbrush in the forests. The buffalo berries (graines de boeuf, Elaeagnus argentea) are very astringent, sour. They are inedible until there is a freeze. They can be preserved then with much sugar. Berberis species do not occur along the whole upper Missouri. The wild grapevines (Vitis) no longer grow large in this region and have only small berries of a most insipid taste. In summer there are strawberries in the forest; they have a good taste.M19Brackenridge found ripe fruits of this species on 4 July. The so-called cherries (chokecherry), Prunus padus virginiana, are bad-tasting and dry and are known to be indigestible. Wild rice (folle avoine) grows in the lakes fifty to sixty miles north of here on the other side of the Missouri. The Indians close to the lakes are known to live off it partly.
In the forests on the Missouri there are few kinds of timber. The cottonwood, or, as the French call this tree, liard [— —] (Populus angulata), burns quickly when dry and gives off much heat. The sweetish sapwood is eaten in summer [after being] scraped [from the tree]. It tastes sweetish [and] is very juicy and cooling. Underneath the fresh bark, the wood of the cottonwood tree is yellowish; if dry, it is more often ash-gray [there]. In winter the bark serves as horse fodder. The ash tree found here (Fraxinus [— —]) provides good wood for dishes [and] ax handles and is serviceable for the cartwright’s work, etc. The elm is also supposed to be a good wood. The sap of the box elder (Acer negundo) makes excellent sugar. One can estimate four to five gallons of sap for one pound of sugar. However, here the tree is not used at all for that purpose, as it is at Fort Union. The box elder is among the most common trees in all of North America.M20Here there are two kinds of oak—white and red oak. I did not have the opportunity to compare them, [to see] whether they are identical to the tree types in the United States with the same name. The white oak provides the best timber here.
There are several plants for dyeing. The root of the savoyenneM21It is a low plant with [a] white flower, which I have not seen. Its root is long and thin or threadlike. dyes a beautiful red, like the buffalo berries. The seeds of the Helianthus yield a black dye, [as does] crushed willow bark.
In summer the animal kingdom consists of several interesting species in the area around Fort Clark. One can observe species of animals [native to] the wide western prairies [and] some species of the northern, cold [regions of] America. Say has given us the best information about [the prairies].
[Page 3:72]Buffalo herds do not stay near Fort Clark, except during very severe winter weather, because the many Indians living here drive them away. The fort’s hunters have to ride twenty miles to hunt them. However, during the cold snowstorms of the winter, the animals seek shelter in the forests along the riverbanks. Then very many are killed; it is scarcely possible to drive them out of the sparse forest. Their bones and skulls cover the prairie everywhere. The elk (Cervus canadensis), an extremely proud animal, can be shot about ten miles from here, [but] the Indians do not allow it to exist very close by. Elk skins are very valuable to the Mandans, because they make their shoes from it. The whitetail or common deer (Cervus virginianus), called le chevreuil by the French, can be found in nearby forests, about a quarter of an hour from the fort, but in small numbers. Larger numbers can be found 3 to 4 miles from the fort. The blacktail deer (Cervus macrotis Say) is a bit more distant, about 20 to 30 miles. All these animals are more numerous in the Black Hills. The cabri, or antelope (Antilocapra [sp.] Ord.), lives close by all year long. Numerous in summer, [the animals] retreat in winter more toward the mountains, where [they] find shelter from severe snowstorms. [They] return in April, when one can see their herds cross the Missouri. Then they disperse over the prairie to have their young. But even in winter, individuals can be found. The bighorn (Ovis ammon Lin., la grosse corne) lives about fifty miles from here. The Hidatsas kill 100 or more of these animals in one hunting season, [on expeditions to] the Black Hills and other mountainous regions. The whitish bear (grizzly bear, Ursus horribilis Ord.) occurs about 4 miles from here; the Indians leave it in peace because they do not like to hunt it. The Mandans and the Hidatsas like very much to use the claws for necklaces and often pay high prices for them. They also like to eat young bears.
The variable wolf (Canis variabilis), surely a special species, was considered that by Lewis and Clark. [It] is very common along the whole upper Missouri and [shows] much variation in color. It can be found wolf-gray, whitish, or all white. It never has a dark stripe down its legs, like the wolf of the eastern United States and also European wolves, [the] head and ears seem shorter, and so on. It does not seem to get as large as Canis lupus in Europe. It has its young in a burrow in the ground. The animals are very famished in winter, and some [are] extremely thin. They follow the buffalo herds and catch many weak, sick, or young animals. When hunters come, it is [the wolves’] harvesting season. They [even] bite and devour each other, [although] they did not often touch the dead wolves we threw on the prairie; at that time, the famine was probably not yet [so] severe. They recognize the sound of the gun so well that they come right away after one has fired a shot; the ravens also [do this]. The hunters maintain that the wolves look for these birds to find the direction [in which] the prey is located. Any shot or wounded animal is instantly found by them and lost [to the hunter].
The prairie wolf, or schähä́ckä in Mandan (Canis latrans Say), is exactly in the middle between wolf and fox. [Page 3:73]The color and shape [are] more similar to the former. [The prairie wolf] is numerous in the vicinity of the fort, like the wolf, and the skin of neither animal is sought-after. They have their young in the ground and bark clearly and loudly, like a dog.
The red fox (Canis fulvus Desm.) is common but by far not as numerous as the wolves. Its fur is beautiful [and] sought-after; the color is various shades, almost like the European fox—frequently beautifully pale yellow with a very large white tail or [white] tip on its tail.M22Its ears are only black on the upper half; the face is almost always whitish, as [are] also the tips of the toes. The gray fox (Canis cinerea argenteus) is also found here. Whether the cross fox (Canis decussatus) is a variety, I could not yet determine. The black, or silver, fox is more frequent to the north and is not numerous rare about sixty to seventy miles from here. However it occurs here now and then. One would likely pay [— —] dollars for its pelt. The prairie fox, or kit fox (Canis velox Say, or le renard chien de prairie), is common and builds its burrow on the prairie and in its hills. All these foxes are caught during winter in traps, the same as wolves.
The panther (Felis concolor) is now rare on the Missouri [although] Lewis and Clark shot one here. In the Black Hills and in the Rocky Mountains, it is still supposed to be numerous. The common lynx, here called wild cat (Felis canadensis, le chat sauvage) is scarce, but individual such animals have been shot here, and we tracked one in the snow. The fish otter (Lutra canadensis) that lives in the rivers, however, is scarce because of the Indians. The mink (Mustela vison, le foutereau) is common. The Indians knew about a snow-white animal of this species [that] they pursued near the Hidatsa villages. The large weasel (Mustela erminea americana ? ) is numerous, and the Indians often hunt it with snares. They use it for adornments and [clothing]. It is expensive, sometimes 6 dollars, or 15 florins. In November I received a small brown weasel (Mustela vulgaris Harl.), and in December a completely white one—at the tip of its tail it had just a few black hairs. It seems to differ from the European [species]. The skunk (Mephitis putorius) is not uncommon, and I always found it with the same markings observed in Pennsylvania. Snowwhite specimens are not rare. The badger (Meles labradorius) is not scarce.
On the Missouri and its tributaries, the beaver (Castor fi ber) is more frequent the farther upriver [one travels]. The Mandans and Hidatsas catch many of these sought-after animals, despite [a] significant decline in numbers. A man could catch thirty [of them] a short time ago, and Mr. Kipp has purchased by far the largest amount of pelts. Nowadays, with the competition from Messrs. Sublette and Campbell, beaver pelts bring very high prices, as already mentioned. I saw here a beautiful spotted white beaver that had been caught by a Gros Ventre. On the Yellowstone, completely yellowish white or even completely white beavers were not uncommon. The Piegans at Fort Mc Kenzie also trapped a few of them.
The muskrat (Fiber zibethicus) occurs especially on landlocked lakes and small brooks. The porcupine (Hystrix dorsata) is not very rare. The hare, white in winter (Lepus virginianus H. ?), is found on the prairie and in thickets; it also likes the Mandan cornfields. It is not numerous close to the Indians—the many wolves and foxes also deplete these animals. The rabbit (Lepus americanus, le lapin) is rather numerous in the forests, but the types of rabbit species in America are far less numerous than in Europe. There is supposed to be a third species of [hare or] rabbit of a considerable size here, different in color from those already mentioned. In summer it is gray-brown and reddish. The prairie dog (Arctomys ludoviciana) also has villages here, a few miles away. Arctomys hoodii (le suisse) is far more numerous and is spread all across the prairies. Say’s four-striped squirrel (Tamias quadrivittatus Say) we saw not far above the Gros Ventre villages; therefore, it may occur here too, even though they claim not to know it. There are no other species of squirrels in this area. The large wood rat ([— —]) is found on Cedar Island and at Fort Union; it is therefore most likely here too, but nobody knows of it. The brown rat (Mus decumanus) is found in the fort as a plague. The most common mouse that lives everywhere in banks, bushes, and even on the prairie, called meadow mouse (Mus [— —]), is the same one found downriver along the whole river and east of the Mississippi. American naturalists consider it identical with Mus sylvaticus in Europe, [but] it is most likely a different species. Shrew mice, the mouse with the large cheek pouches ([— —]), [and] the jerboa ([— —]) probably live here, too, but I could not obtain any. An animal like our mole (it digs up piles of soil) lives everywhere on the prairie [and is] without doubt the gopher or land ratM23I have since gotten this animal. It seems to be a gopher, or the machtóhpka in Mandan (Pseudostoma bursarius Say). I also got an Arvicola frequently occurring here that I have named leucogaster. It seems not to be mentioned in Harlan’s Fauna and is new, if Richardson does not list it. that occurs near St. Louis. I also could not obtain this one from the Mandan villages yet. Bats are supposed to be here in rather large numbers, but I did not have the opportunity to obtain all species. The inhabitants do not know the smaller animals, and I did not stay in this area for any length of time during the summer. I have no doubt [that] there are several [other] species of small animals here. In the Black Hills there are several species of squirrels that are unknown in this region.
The class of birds has many interesting species. The redheaded urubu (turkey buzzard) lives here only in summer and [migrates] in winter, as [does] Aquila leucocephala. There are several species of hawks in summer, but in winter not a single one is seen. The great horned owl (Strix virginiana L.) is a hardy bird; it endures the whole severe winter here, as does another species of owl—I suspect Strix asio. The snowy owl (Strix nyctea) has been shot here on several occasions. In summer the burrowing owl (Strix cunicularia) has been found frequently in prairie dog villages. In summer several interesting birds are here. The parakeet (Psittacus carolinensis) is supposed to occur not far beyond Ponca Creek; however, it has been seen at the l’Eau qui Court [Niobrara River] (in Lewis and Clark and in Major Long’s travel [account], the river is incorrectly called Qui Courre River) and occurs perhaps sometimes even farther upriver. The hummingbird (Trochilus colubris) comes up to the Mandans annually often, but not in numbers or regularly. Wild pigeons are frequent in the forest during summer, and Columba carolinensis (la tourte, the dove) lives in all the small, [solitary] bushes on the prairie and in ravines; it is numerous everywhere. In winter almost all [these birds migrate]; so do the woodpeckers, [and] only Picus pubescens endures. In addition to the blackbird, known here in four species—Quiscalus versicolor, Icterus phoeniceus, Icterocephalus, and a fire-colored and black bird [that is] very similar to the Baltimore [oriole] and builds a hanging nest—the ravens and magpies are numerous. The cuckoo is said not to be seen here. Ravens and magpies are resident birds; the others [migrate] in fall. The waxwing (Bombycilla garrula) is said to live here in summer, too; in winter it is a visitor.M24The other species of this type with the yellow belly is also nesting here. The magpies stay the winter, mostly in forests. The raven is the bird that seems [able] to endure the most cold. From the genus Caprimulgus, there is a species (americanus) [that is] here mainly in summer. The whippoorwill is supposed to be found here once in a while, but only in small numbers. The French call them mangeurs de maringouins [mosquito eaters], and indeed one often finds their wide beaks completely filled with these insects. Lanius septentrionalis lives here in winter, on the other hand; in summer another species [of Lanius] that seems specifically different from the Carolina shrike (Lanius carolinensis). Neither Sitta nor Certhia are seen in the forests in winter, nor is Parus bicolor. On the other hand, Parus atricapillus can stand the severe winter here. Alauda magna and alpestris live here in summer. The snow bunting and the linnet (Emberiza nivalis and Fringilla linaria) are sedentary or visiting birds in winter. In summer they do not seem to be here. Fringilla amoene lives in summer in pairs in all forests; also the goldfinch (Fringilla tristis). Of the types of chicken, there is only one species (Tetrao phasianellus), called prairie hen by the Americans, by the French le faisan, and by the Mandans sipúska. It stays in summer and in winter is numerous, but because of the many Indian hunters, it is very shy. The partridge is said to live in the Black Hills, but one has to assume that this is probably a different species. The large cock of the prairie, or cock of the mountains (Tetrao urophasianus, le coq des prairies), is found only 200 miles from here. I bought a skin from a Mandan who had shot the bird on a hunting trip. There are marshes a few miles from the fort and a pond overgrown with reeds; [beyond] the opposite riverbank there are inland lakes, especially nine miles from here, where in summer [and] particularly in spring and fall a large number of waterfowl and marsh birds live. The pelican (Pelecanus [— —]) can be seen there and also on the Missouri in numerous flocks. In summer they say it is found on the sandbars sometimes; [the birds] probably [build] solitary nests there. The whooping crane (Grus americana) — this splendid bird—and the gray crane (Grus canadensis, sandhill crane) are frequent in fall and spring migrations. These birds are eaten. Sandpipers live throughout the whole summer on the banks of the Missouri. In September I saw the avocet (Recurvirostra americana); near the Mandans, a few specimens of a small flock were shot. The herons also move away from here in fall, because there is no open water where they could find food.In summer, Numenius longirostris lives on the prairies. The wood snipe is not supposed to be here in summer. The blackish coot (Fulica [— —]) is common in summer and in fall. Swans, ducks, and geese all leave in winter. Only single specimens of Anas boschas fera are sometimes here if the water is open. Several rare species of ducks can be seen during the spring and fall migrations. Wild geese (Anser canadensis and hyperboreus) [and] swans nest on the river. The white goose is rare. On the ponds there are seven to eight species of ducks. In this part of inner America, winter would be rich in duck species if the bodies of water would stay open, free of ice.
Here we may add the bird calendar for the time of our stay.
From the class of amphibians, there are a few interesting species, but unfortunately I did not get to see them alive in [their] natural habitat. As far as the Rocky Mountains, the Missouri nourishes a soft-shell turtle (Trionyx or Aspidonectes Wagl.) that seems to be the same as Lesueur’s Trionyx [— —]. A mud turtle (Emys) lives in the creeks, without doubt the same that I saw near Fort Union, that is, occurring in the neighboring creeks.M25In the river there is supposed to be one with a hard shell; on the prairie a little farther distant, especially near the Pawnees, [is] a land turtle that has beautiful yellow spots [and] is supposed to be the most beautiful of all. There are said to be several species of lizards, especially the spine-headed, of which Say also writes in Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol. [— —] p. [— —]. It was caught on the Yellowstone at Fort Union last summer and also in the Stone Walls [region]. According to the description, it seems to belong here. Some had green or greenish as the base color; others, as was stated, [were] whitish. Here (near the Mandans) there are said to be several species of lizards. One usually sits still with its head raised and lets itself be easily caught. It is supposed to be a gold color and is without doubt an Agama, perhaps [— —]. It is strange that, during our whole trip upriver on the Missouri, we did not see a single lizardlike animal. There were several species of snakes. Coluber constrictor, the black snake, is not found. But Coluber proximus, [in] its beautiful red-spotted variety eximus, a large beautiful snake, is very frequent. We only came across one species of rattlesnake: Crotalus tergeminus Say. 82 This one is very frequent and large. I have often seen it more than four feet long. There are several species of frogs, [including] Rana halecina [and] small tree frogs; after rain and storms, the ground is often completely covered with small frogs. Even some white men still maintain the belief that these young frogs fell down through the air. The rainbow, they believe, pulls up the frogs into the air with one of its ends; then, when it rains [the frogs] fall down to earth en masse.
Species of fish in the Missouri here are not numerous. There are two kinds of catfish ([— —]): one bluish gray, [called] the white catfish ([— —]), and a smaller one of olive-brownish color. Furthermore, there is a species of pike (Esox), the pickerel ([— —]), an Acipenser with [a] long, beaklike, smoothly elongated snout, the gold eye ([— —]), and sometimes the buffalo ([— —]). There are doubtless still other fish living in the Missouri to which the inhabitants have paid no attention. But it is extremely difficult to obtain all these species.
Among the insects are several bothersome to humans. The mosquitoes (Tipula) are in some summers very numerous. On the prairie, [one finds] a moderately large spotted grasshopper (Gryllus) that eats plants quickly. Several species make a noise when they fly, but those are not that destructive. Many animals feed on the grasshoppers of the prairie. A very large brown spider is supposed to be found here. It is, however, not hairy, so it is different from the species in the prairies of Arkansas mentioned by Say.M26See Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol. 3, p. [——]).
About mollusks and related animals, I could find nothing during the season of our stay other than Unio [— —] Say, which can be found in the Missouri and in the creeks.M27I have sent Mr. Thomas Say the Unio specimens I brought along from the upper Missouri. No. 1 is a species from the Stone Walls. No. 2 [is] from the creek near Fort Clark.