"We cannot learn precisely the nature of the trade carried on by the Indians with the inhabitants below. But as their knowledge of the whites seems to be very imperfect, and as the only articles which they carry to market, such as pounded fish, bear-grass, and roots, cannot be an object of much foreign traffic, their intercourse appears to be an intermediate trade with the natives near the mouth of the Columbia. From them these people obtain, in exchange for their fish, roots, and bear-grass, blue and white beads, copper tea-kettles, brass armbands, some scarlet and blue robes, and a few articles of old European clothing. But their great object is to obtain beads, an article which holds the first place in their ideas of relative value, and to procure which they will sacrifice their last article of clothing or last mouthful of food. Independently of their fondness for them as an ornament, these beads are the medium of trade, by which they obtain from the Indians still higher up the river, robes, skins, chappelel bread, bear-grass, etc. Those Indians in turn employ them to procure from the Indians in the Rocky Mountains, bear-grass, pachico-roots, robes, etc.
"These Indians are rather below the common size, with high cheek-bones; their noses are pierced, and in full dress ornamented with a tapering piece of white shell or wampum about two inches long. Their eyes are exceedingly sore and weak; many of them have only a single eye, and some are perfectly blind. Their teeth prematurely decay, and in frequent instances are altogether worn away. Their general health, however, seems to be good, the only disorder we have remarked being tumors in different parts of the body."
The more difficult rapid was passed on the second day of November, the luggage being sent down by land and the empty canoes taken down with great care. The journal of that date says:--
"The rapid we have just passed is the last of all the descents of the Columbia. At this place the first tidewater commences, and the river in consequence widens immediately below the rapid. As we descended we reached, at the distance of one mile from the rapid, a creek under a bluff on the left; at three miles is the lower point of Strawberry Island. To this immediately succeed three small islands covered with wood. In the meadow to the right, at some distance from the hills, stands a perpendicular rock about eight hundred feet high and four hundred yards around the base. This we called Beacon Rock. Just below is an Indian village of nine houses, situated between two small creeks. At this village the river widens to nearly a mile in extent; the low grounds become wider, and they as well as the mountains on each side are covered with pine, spruce-pine, cottonwood, a species of ash, and some alder. After being so long accustomed to the dreary nakedness of the country above, the change is as grateful to the eye as it is useful in supplying us with fuel. Four miles from the village is a point of land on the right, where the hills become lower, but are still thickly timbered. The river is now about two miles wide, the current smooth and gentle, and the effect of the tide has been sensible since leaving the rapid. Six miles lower is a rock rising from the middle of the river to the height of one hundred feet, and about eighty yards at its base. We continued six miles further, and halted for the night under a high projecting rock on the left side of the river, opposite the point of a large meadow.
"The mountains, which, from the great shoot to this place, are high, rugged, and thickly covered with timber, chiefly of the pine species, here leave the river on each side; the river becomes two and one-half miles in width; the low grounds are extensive and well supplied with wood. The Indians whom we left at the portage passed us on their way down the river, and seven others, who were descending in a canoe for the purpose of trading below, camped with us. We had made from the foot of the great shoot twenty-nine miles to-day. The ebb tide rose at our camp about nine inches; the flood must rise much higher. We saw great numbers of water-fowl, such as swan, geese, ducks of various kinds, gulls, plovers, and the white and gray brant, of which last we killed eighteen."
Near the mouth of the river which the explorers named Quicksand River (now Sandy), they met a party of fifteen Indians who had lately been down to the mouth of the Columbia. These people told the white men that they had seen three vessels at anchor below, and, as these must needs be American, or European, the far-voyaging explorers were naturally pleased. When they had camped that night, they received other visitors of whom the journal makes mention:--
"A canoe soon after arrived from the village at the foot of the last rapid, with an Indian and his family, consisting of a wife, three children, and a woman who had been taken prisoner from the Snake Indians, living on a river from the south, which we afterward found to be the Multnomah. Sacajawea was immediately introduced to her, in hopes that, being a Snake Indian, they might understand each other; but their language was not sufficiently intelligible to permit them to converse together. The Indian had a gun with a brass barrel and cock, which he appeared to value highly."
The party had missed the Multnomah River in their way down, although this is one of the three largest tributaries of the Columbia, John Day's River and the Des Chutes being the other two. A group of islands near the mouth of the Multnomah hides it from the view of the passing voyager. The stream is now more generally known as the Willamette, or Wallamet. The large city of Portland, Oregon, is built on the river, about twelve miles from its junction with the Columbia. The Indian tribes along the banks of the Multnomah, or Willamette, subsisted largely on the wappatoo, an eatable root, about the size of a hen's egg and closely resembling a potato. This root is much sought after by the Indians and is eagerly bought by tribes living in regions where it is not to be found. The party made great use of the wappatoo after they had learned how well it served in place of bread. They bought here all that the Indians could spare and then made their way down the river to an open prairie where they camped for dinner and found many signs of elk and deer. The journal says:--