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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

cous

The following two entries discuss native trade with sailors from Great Britain and United States

Capt. Lewis, January 9, 1806--for these they receive in return from the natives, dressed and undressed Elk-skins, skins of the sea Otter, common Otter, beaver, common fox, spuck, and tiger cat; also dryed and pounded sammon in baskets, and a kind of buisquit, which the natives make of roots called by them shappelell.

Capt. Clark, January 14, 1806--for these they receive in return from the nativs Dressed and undressed Elk Skins, Skins of the Sea otter, Common otter, beaver, common fox, Speck, and [Spotted or] tiger Cat, also Some Salmon dried or pounded and a kind of buisket, [the natives dispose of some of these biscuits not a great article of trade] which the natives make of roots called by them Shappelell.

On the return up the Columbia and beyond, the corps bartered for food on a frequent basis; cous (cows) was a staple in their diet during this period.

Capt. Clark, April 12, 1806--I also purchased 2 pieces of Chapellell and some roots of those people.

Capt. Lewis, April 14, 1806--we halted at the village and dined.  purchased five dogs some roots, shappelell, fliberds and dryed burries of the inhabitants.

Capt. Clark, April 14, 1806--We halted at this village Dined and purchased five dogs, Some roots Chappalell, Philberds and dried berries of the inhabitents.

Capt. Clark, April 17, 1806--I purchased 3 dogs for the party with me to eate and some chap-pa-lell for my self.

Capt. Lewis, April 20, 1806--we purchased two dogs and some shappellel from them.

Capt. Clark, April 20, 1806--I purchased a dog and some wood with a little pounded fish and chappalels

Capt. Clark, April 22, 1806--Sent and purchased some wood and 4 dogs & Shapellell. . . . . .the party purchased a great quantity of Chapellell and some berries for which they gave bits of Tin and small pieces of cloth & wire &c.

Capt. Lewis, April 23, 1806--we also obtained some shap-pe-lell newly made from these people.

Capt. Clark, April 23, 1806--they Sold us 4 dogs some shapellell and wood for our small articles such as awls pieces of Tin and brass.

Capt. Lewis, April 24, 1806--we purchased three dogs and some shappellel of these people which we cooked with dry grass and willow boughs.

Capt. Lewis, April 29, 1806--we purchased some dogs and shappellell this morning.  we now had a store of 12 dogs for our voyage through the plains.

Capt. Clark, April 29, 1806--we purchased some deer [dogs] and chappellell this morning.  we had now a store of 12 dogs for our voyage through the plains.

On April 30, 1806, the Captains described several plants. The short grass is probably Poa secundum. The "sweet potato" may be Lomatium cous, the specimen collected the day before.  These passages were written in Walla Walla County, Washington.

Capt. Lewis, April 30, 1806 --this plain as usual is covered with arromatic shrubs hurbatious plants and a short grass.   many of those plants produce those esculent roots which form a principal part of the subsistence of the natives.   among others there is one which produces a root somewhat like the sweet pittaitoe.

Capt. Clark, April 30, 1806--This plain as usial is covered with arromatic shrubs, hurbatious plants and tufts of short grass. maney of those plants produce those esculent roots which forms a principal part of the subsistance of the nativs. among others there is one which produces a root somewhat like the sweet potato.

Capt. Lewis, May 4, 1806--we obtained a few large cakes of half cured bread made of a root which resembles the sweet potatoe, with these we made some soope and took breakfast. . . . a great portion of the Chopunnish we are informed are now distributed in small vilages through this plain collecting the quawmash and cows; the salmon not yet having arrived to call them to the river. . . . purchased a little wood and some bread of cows from the natives and encamped having traveled 15 Ms only today.

Capt. Clark, May 4, 1806--we obtained a fiew large cakes of half cured bread made of a root which resembles the sweet potatoe, with these we made some soope and took brakfast. . . . a Great portion of the Chopunnish we are informed are now distributed in small Villages through this plain Collecting the Cowse a white meley root which is very fine in soup after being dried and pounded; the Salmon not yet having arived to call them to the river. . . . purchased a little wood, and some Cows bread and encamped, haveing traveled 15 miles to day only.

Capt. Lewis, May 5, 1806--we arrived here extreemly hungry and much fatiegued, but no articles of merchandize in our possession would induce them to let us have any article of provision except a small quantity of bread of cows and some of those roots dried.

Capt. Clark, May 5, 1806--we arrived here extreemly hungary and much fatigued, but no articles of merchandize in our possession would induce them to let us have any article of Provisions except a small quantity of bread of Cows and some of those roots dried.

Capt. Lewis, May 6, 1806--the inhabitants seemed more accomodating this morning; they sold us some bread.

Capt. Clark, May 6, 1806--the inhabitents seemed more accommodating this morning; they sold us some bread.

The following entries describe the plant, its preparation and it's relationship to camas. The final two entries also include very positive statments of their high regard for the Nez Perce group who had hosted them so generously both on the westward trek and the return.

Capt. Lewis, May 9, 1806--I have no doubt but this tract of country if cultivated would produce in great abundance every article essentially necessary to the comfort and subsistence of civillized man. to it's present inhabitants nature seems to have dealt with a liberal hand, for she has distributed a great variety of esculent plants over the face of the country which furnish them a plentifull store of provision ; these are acquired with but little toil, when prepared after the method of the natives afford not only a nutricious but an agreeable food. among other roots those called by them the quawmash and Cows are esteemed the most agreeable and valuable as they are also the most abundant, the cows is a knobbed root of an irregularly rounded form not unlike the gensang in form and consistence. this root they collect, rub of[f] a thin black rhind which covers it and pounding it expose it in cakes to the sun. these cakes are about an inch and 1/4 thick and 6 by 18 in width, when dryed they either eat this bread alone without any further preperation, or boil it and make a thick musilage; the latter is most common and much the most agreeable, the flavor of this root is not very unlike the gensang. this root they collect as early as the snows disappear in the spring and continue to collect it untill the quawmash supplys it's place which happens about the latter end of June. the quawmash is also collected for a few weaks after it first makes it's appearance in the spring, but when the scape appears it is no longer fit for use untill the seed are ripe which happens about the time just mentioned, and then the cows declines. the latter is also frequently dryed in the sun and pounded afterwards and then used in making soope.

we procured a few roots of cows of which we made soope.

Capt. Clark, May 9, 1806--we procured some pounded roots of which a supe was made thick on which we suped.

Capt. Lewis, May 10, 1806--the mud at the sources of the little ravies was deep balck and well supplyed with quawmash.

the Chief spoke to his people and they produced us about 2 bushels of the quawmas roots dryed, four cakes of the bread of cows and a dryed salmon trout.  we thanked them for this store of provision but informed them that our men not being accustomed to live on the roots alone we feared it would make them sick to obviate which we proposed exchanging a [good] horse in reather low order for a young horse in a tolerable order with a view to kill.  the hospitality of the chief revolted at the idea of an exchange, he told us that his young men had a great abundance of young horses and if we wished to eat them we should by [be] furnished with as many as we wanted.  accordingly they soon produced us two fat young horses one of which we killed, the other we informed them we would postpone killing until we had consumed the one already killed.  This is a much greater act of hospitality than we have witnessed from any nation or tribe since we have passed the Rocky mountains.  in short be it spoken to their immortal honor it is the only act which deserves the appellation of hospitallity which we have witnessed in this quarter.

the noise of their women pounding roots reminds me of a nail factory.  The indians seem well pleased, and I am confident that they are not more so than our men who have their s[t]omachs once more well filled with horsebeef and mush of the bread of cows.  the house of coventry is also seen here.

Capt. Clark, May 10, 1806--the mud at the head of the streams which we passed was deep and well supplied with the Carmash

Soon after Cap Lewis who was in the rear came up and we smoked with and told this Chief our situation with respect to provisions.  they brought forward about 2 bushels of quawmash 4 cakes of bread made of roots and a dried fish.  we informed the Chief that our party was not accustomed to eate roots without flesh & proposed to exchange some of our oald horses for young ones to eate.  they said that they would not exchange horses, but would furnish us with such as we wished, and produced 2 one of which we killed and informd. them that we did not wish to kill the other at this time.

the noise of their women pounding cows roots remind me of a nail factory.  The Indians appear well pleased, and I am confident that they are not more so than our men who have their stomach once more well filled with horse beef and the bread of cows.  Those people have shown much greater acts of hospitallity than we have witnessed from any other nation or tribe since we have passed the rocky Mountains.  in short be it spoken to their immortal honor it is the only act which diserves the appelation of hospitallity which we have witnessed in this quarter.

 
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