Lewis & Clark in North Dakota

Original journal of January 10, 1805

last night was excessively cold the murkery this morning stood at 40 below zero which is 72 degrees below the freezing point, we had one man out last night, who returned about 8 o’clock this morning. The Indians of the lower Village turned out to hunt for a man and a boy who had not returned from the hunt of yesterday, and borrow’d a Slay to bring them in expecting to find them frosed to death about 10 o’clock the boy about 13 years of age Came to the fort with his feet frosed and had layed out last night without fire with only a Buffalow Robe to Cover him, the Dress which he wore was a pr. of Cabra (antelope) Legins, which is very thin and mockersons we had his feet put in cold water and they are Comeing too. Soon after the arrival of the Boy. a Man Came in who had stayed without fire, and very thinly Clothed, this man was not the least injured, Customs & habits of those people has anured (them) to bare more Cold that I thought it possible for man to endure, Sent out 3 men to hunt Elk about 7 miles.


Thursday 10, however, he came back just as we were sending out five men in search of him. The night had been excessively cold, and this morning at sunrise the mercury stood at 40 degrees below 0 or 72 below the freezing point. He had, however, made a fire and kept himself tolerably warm. A young Indian, about thirteen year of age, also came in soon after. His father who came last night to inquire after him very anxiously, had sent him in the afternoon to the fort: he was overtaken by the night, and was obliged to sleep on the snow with no covering except a pair of antelope skin moccasins and leggings and a buffalo robe: his feet being frozen we put them into cold water, and gave him every attention in our power. About the same time an Indian who had also been missing had slept on the snow without a fire, he had not suffered the slightest inconvenience. We have indeed observed that these Indians support the rigours of the season in a way which we had hitherto thought impossible . A more pleasing reflection occurred at seeing the warm interest which the situation of these two persons had excited in the village, the boy had been a prisoner and adopted from charity, yet the distress of the father proved that he felt him the tenderest affection, the man was a person of no distinction, yet the whole village was full of anxiety for his safety, and when they came to us, borrowed a sleigh to bring them home with ease, if they survived, or to carry their bodies if they had perished. (Lewis & Clark in North Dakota pg. 124-125)

I have tried to bring to life the imaginations of the children that I get to visit, about this subject. Even I, as an adult living on this prairie, in this modern day era have not the slightest clue as to how these people accomplished all that they did. I try to plant seeds in all of my audience’s that one day, they too might possibly participate in as equal of significant event.

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