"The great chief, with two of his inferior chiefs and a third belonging to a band on the river below, made us a visit at a very early hour. The first of these was called Yelleppit,-- a handsome, well-proportioned man, about five feet eight inches high, and thirty-five years of age, with a bold and dignified countenance; the rest were not distinguished in their appearance. We smoked with them, and after making a speech, gave a medal, a handkerchief, and a string of wampum to Yelleppit, but a string of wampum only to the inferior chiefs. He requested us to remain till the middle of the day, in order that all his nation might come and see us; but we excused ourselves by telling him that on our return we would spend two or three days with him. This conference detained us till nine o'clock, by which time great numbers of the Indians had come down to visit us. On leaving them we went on for eight miles, when we came to an island near the left shore, which continued six miles in length. At its lower extremity is a small island on which are five houses, at present vacant, though the scaffolds of fish are as usual abundant. A short distance below are two more islands, one of them near the middle of the river. On this there were seven houses, but as soon as the Indians, who were drying fish, saw us, they fled to their houses, and not one of them appeared till we had passed; when they came out in greater numbers than is usual for houses of that size, which induced us to think that the inhabitants of the five lodges had been alarmed at our approach and taken refuge with them. We were very desirous of landing in order to relieve their apprehensions, but as there was a bad rapid along the island all our care was necessary to prevent injury to the canoes. At the foot of this rapid is a rock on the left shore, which is fourteen miles from our camp of last night and resembles a hat in shape."
Later in the day, Captain Clark ascended a bluff on the river bank, where he saw "a very high mountain covered with snow." This was Mount St. Helen's, in Cowlitz County, Washington. The altitude of the peak is nine thousand seven hundred and fifty feet. "Having arrived at the lower ends of the rapids below the bluff before any of the rest of the party, be sat down on a rock to wait for them, and, seeing a crane fly across the river, shot it, and it fell near him. Several Indians had been before this passing on the opposite side towards the rapids, and some who were then nearly in front of him, being either alarmed at his appearance or the report of the gun, fled to their houses. Captain Clark was afraid that these people had not yet heard that the white men were coming, and therefore, in order to allay their uneasiness before the rest of the party should arrive, he got into the small canoe with three men, rowed over towards the houses, and, while crossing, shot a duck, which fell into the water. As he approached no person was to be seen except three men in the plains, and they, too, fled as he came near the shore. He landed in front of five houses close to each other, but no one appeared, and the doors, which were of mat, were closed. He went towards one of them with a pipe in his hand, and, pushing aside the mat, entered the lodge, where he found thirty-two persons, chiefly men and women, with a few children, all in the greatest consternation; some hanging down their heads, others crying and wringing their hands. He went up to them, and shook hands with each one in the most friendly manner; but their apprehensions, which had for a moment subsided, revived on his taking out a burning-glass, as there was no roof to the house, and lighting his pipe: he then offered it to several of the men, and distributed among the women and children some small trinkets which he had with him, and gradually restored a degree of tranquillity among them.
"Leaving this house, and directing each of his men to visit a house, he entered a second. Here he found the inmates more terrified than those in the first; but he succeeded in pacifying them, and afterward went into the other houses, where the men had been equally successful. Retiring from the houses, he seated himself on a rock, and beckoned to some of the men to come and smoke with him; but none of them ventured to join him till the canoes arrived with the two chiefs, who immediately explained our pacific intention towards them. Soon after the interpreter's wife [Sacajawea] landed, and her presence dissipated all doubts of our being well-disposed, since in this country no woman ever accompanies a war party: they therefore all came out, and seemed perfectly reconciled; nor could we, indeed, blame them for their terrors, which were perfectly natural. They told the two chiefs that they knew we were not men, for they had seen us fall from the clouds. In fact, unperceived by them, Captain Clark had shot the white crane, which they had seen fall just before he appeared to their eyes: the duck which he had killed also fell close by him; and as there were some clouds flying over at the moment, they connected the fall of the birds with his sudden appearance, and believed that he had himself actually dropped from the clouds; considering the noise of the rifle, which they had never heard before, the sound announcing so extraordinary an event. This belief was strengthened, when, on entering the room, he brought down fire from the heavens by means of his burning-glass. We soon convinced them, however, that we were merely mortals; and after one of our chiefs had explained our history and objects, we all smoked together in great harmony.
The voyagers were now drifting down the Columbia River, and they found the way impeded by many rapids, some of them very dangerous. But their skill in the handling of their canoes seems to have been equal to the occasion, although they were sometimes compelled to go around the more difficult rapids, making a short land portage. When they had travelled about forty miles down the river, they landed opposite an island on which were twenty-four houses of Indians; the people, known as the Pishquitpahs, were engaged in drying fish. No sooner had the white men landed than the Indians, to the number of one hundred, came across the stream bringing with them some firewood, a most welcome present in that treeless country. The visitors were entertained with presents and a long smoke at the pipe of peace. So pleased were they with the music of two violins played by Cruzatte and Gibson, of the exploring party, that they remained by the fire of the white men all night. The news of the arrival of the white strangers soon spread, and next morning about two hundred more of the Indians assembled to gaze on them. Later in the day, having gotten away from their numerous inquisitive visitors, the explorers passed down-stream and landed on a small island to examine a curious vault, in which were placed the remains of the dead of the tribe. The journal says:--
"This place, in which the dead are deposited, is a building about sixty feet long and twelve feet wide, formed by placing in the ground poles or forks six feet high, across which a long pole is extended the whole length of the structure; against this ridge-pole are placed broad boards and pieces of canoes, in a slanting direction, so as to form a shed. It stands cast and west, and neither of the extremities is closed. On entering the western end we observed a number of bodies wrapped carefully in leather robes, and arranged in rows on boards, which were then covered with a mat. This was the part destined for those who had recently died; a little further on, bones half decayed were scattered about, and in the centre of the building was a large pile of them heaped promiscuously on each other. At the eastern extremity was a mat, on which twenty-one skulls were placed in a circular form; the mode of interment being first to wrap the body in robes, then as it decays to throw the bones into the heap, and place the skulls together. From the different boards and pieces of canoes which form the vault were suspended, on the inside, fishing-nets, baskets, wooden bowls, robes, skins, trenchers, and trinkets of various kinds, obviously intended as offerings of affection to deceased relatives. On the outside of the vault were the skeletons of several horses, and great quantities of their bones were in the neighborhood, which induced us to believe that these animals were most probably sacrificed at the funeral rites of their masters."
Just below this stand the party met Indians who traded with tribes living near the great falls of the Columbia. That place they designated as "Tum-tum," a word that signifies the throbbing of the heart. One of these Indians had a sailor's jacket, and others had a blue blanket and a scarlet blanket. These articles had found their way up the river from white traders on the seashore.
On the twenty-first of October the explorers discovered a considerable stream which appeared to rise in the southeast and empty into the Columbia on the left. To this stream they gave the name of Lepage for Bastien Lepage, one of the voyageurs accompanying the party. The watercourse, however, is now known as John Day's River. John Day was a mighty hunter and backwoodsman from Kentucky who went across the continent, six years later, with a party bound for Astoria, on the Columbia. From the rapids below the John Day River the Lewis and Clark party caught their first sight of Mount Hood, a famous peak of the Cascade range of mountains, looming up in the southwest, eleven thousand two hundred and twenty-five feet high. Next day they passed the mouth of another river entering the Columbia from the south and called by the Indians the Towahnahiooks, but known to modern geography as the Des Chutes, one of the largest southern tributaries of the Columbia. Five miles below the mouth of this stream the party camped. Near them was a party of Indians engaged in drying and packing salmon. Their method of doing this is thus described:--
"The manner of doing this is by first opening the fish and exposing it to the sun on scaffolds. When it is sufficiently dried it is pounded between two stones till it is pulverized, and is then placed in a basket about two feet long and one in diameter, neatly made of grass and rushes, and lined with the skin of a salmon stretched and dried for the purpose. Here the fish are pressed down as hard as possible, and the top is covered with fish-skins, which are secured by cords through the holes of the basket. These baskets are then placed in some dry situation, the corded part upward, seven being usually placed as close as they can be put together, and five on the top of these. The whole is then wrapped up in mats, and made fast by cords, over which mats are again thrown. Twelve of these baskets, each of which contains from ninety to one hundred pounds, form a stack, which is left exposed till it is sent to market. The fish thus preserved keep sound and sweet for several years, and great quantities, they inform us, are sent to the Indians who live below the falls, whence it finds its way to the whites who visit the mouth of the Columbia. We observe, both near the lodges and on the rocks in the river, great numbers of stacks of these pounded fish. Besides fish, these people supplied us with filberts and berries, and we purchased a dog for supper; but it was with much difficulty that we were able to buy wood enough to cook it."