Fort Clatsop National Memorial Collection FOCL 000104 Cat. No. 698
On 20 November 1805 William Clark wrote in his journal, “…one of the Indians had on a roab made of 2 Sea Otter Skins the fur of them were more butiful than any fur I had ever seen. Both Capt. Lewis and my Self endeavored to purchase the roab with different articles. At length we procured it for a belt of blue beads which [Sacagawea] wore around her waste.” The scene depicted above is from a painting by Newman Myrah entitled “Bartering Blue Beads for Otter Robe”.

Native History: Lewis and Clark Depart Fort Clatsop, Head Home

Jack McNeel

The vote was in favor of moving across the Columbia where they constructed Fort Clatsop, in recognition of the Clatsop Tribe. They moved into Fort Clatsop on Christmas Day. The area was 50 square feet and contained five buildings, three on one side and two others facing them. This was home for 32 men, a woman, a baby, and a dog, the Newfoundland that accompanied them during the entire expedition.

This is a replica of the outside of Fort Clatsop. It is built on what is believed to be the original site of the fort. (Courtesy of National Park Service)

Gass kept count on elk and deer killed—the final total was 131 elk and 20 deer. That was supplemented with some roots and berries, an occasional dog they would buy from the Natives, and whale blubber they also got from the Clatsop or one of the other Chinook speaking tribes nearby.

By March it was getting more difficult to find game and the hunters had to go farther from the fort, sometimes several miles, to find elk or deer. Captain Clark wrote: “[We] have lived as well as we had any right to expect, and we can say we were never one day without 3 meals of some kind a day either pore elk or roots.”

March 23 also was “raney [sic] and uncertain”, Clark wrote, but by noon the rain ceased. “At which time we loaded our canoes and at 1 P.M. left Fort Clatsop on our homeward bound journey.”

They managed 19 miles that first day before camping for the night. The next month was spent progressing east along the Columbia River, occasionally meeting with Native people they had met earlier. By early May they had again reached the Nez Perce and recovered the horses they had left the previous fall. Winter snows were still deep in the mountains to the east so they remained with the tribe until early June before they continued east.

On September 23, 1806, after being away for two and a half years, the Lewis and Clark Expedition completed their mission by returning to St. Louis, Missouri.


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hesutu's picture
Submitted by hesutu on
"It was the first election west of the Mississippi" This informal vote was the first election west of the Mississippi? Apparently our egalitarian and democratic nations don't count because we are not human beings, only the white man counts. Hate to see the white wash here on ICTMN.

editors's picture
Submitted by editors on
@hesutu: Writer Jack McNeel responds: "The point of the statement is that everyone was treated equally: whites, women, black 'slaves', Indians. I took the phrase about the first election west of the Mississippi from one of the references and I thought it was noteworthy."