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August 21, 1804 Lewis And Clark Enter Present Day South Dakota

Lewis and Clark

 

It was on August 21, 1804 the Corps of Discovery – better known as the Lewis and Clark expedition – entered present day South Dakota.

Following are a few excerpts from their journals they kept.

August 21, 1804 -

Here in the “Garden of Eden,” food sources are plentiful.  The men feast on deer, elk, buffalo, plums and grapes.  Clark discovers the tasty buffalo berry.  Joesph Fields shoots the party’s first buffalo.

August 25, 1804 -

We hike to Spirit Mound.  Area tribes believe that “little people” standing 18 inches tall and carrying arrows inhabit the hill.  Lewis’ dog Seaman tires from the heat, and Lewis sends him back to the boat.

August 30, 1804 -

The expedition has its first council with the Yankton Sioux.  We present the Yanktons with gifts of tobacco and flags.  The Yanktons prepare a feast.  Mr. Dorian, the interpreter, stays behind to negotiate a peace with neighboring tribes and to arrange for the chiefs to visit Washington.

September 7, 1804 -

The Corps sees their first prairie dogs, or as some call them, “barking squirrels.”  The party spends hours trying to catch one by pouring water into its hole.  They eventually manage to send a live prairie dog back to President Jefferson.

September 11, 1804 -

After being separated from the party for more than two weeks, Private George Shannon rejoins the keel boat.  Shannon, the youngest member of the party at age 19, had gotten lost on the prairie and run out of bullets.  He had gone 12 days without eating, except for some wild grapes and a rabbit, which he shot using a piece of stick in place of a bullet.

September 16, 1804 -

The expedition sets up camp to dry their provisions following three days of rain.  Near the camp, the explorers find great quantities of plums and abundant wildlife.  Vast herds of buffalo, deer, elk and antelopes were seen feeding in every direction as far as the eye could reach.

September 20, 1804 -

The expedition arrives at the Big Bend or Grand Detour.  Early the next morning, the sandbar where the expedition set up camp starts to give way.  We quickly load the boats, shove off, just as the campsite tumbles into the river.

September 23, 1804 -

Three Teton Sioux boys approach the Corps’ campsite this evening.  The captains tell the boys they would like to meet with their chiefs the next day.

September 25, 1804 -

The captains hold council with three Teton chiefs at the mouth of the Teton River (now known as the Bad River).  The meeting turns tense and could have become violent, if not for the action of Black Buffalo, one of the chiefs.  We discover our interpreter does not speak the language well.

October 8, 1804 -

The expedition spends several peaceful days at an Arikara village.  The Arikara are fascinated by Clark’s black servant, York.  York relishes the attention and makes himself appear more terrible in their view than I wished.  It seems York told the Arikara he was wild and feasted on young children.

September 1, 1806 (On their return trip through present day South Dakota) -

We meet up with a group of Yankton Sioux.  We smoke several pipes and exchange news of what has happened in the two years since the expedition first passed through the area.

 

* Information courtesy of Yankton Press & Dakotan

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