Lewis and Clark Expedition Diary (From the Perspective of an Explorer)

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An encounter with the Teton Sioux, image courtesy of unknown.

A foggy outline of land graced the shoreline as I felt a light breeze of mist from the Missouri River tingle my cheekbones. It was a symbol of hope in my eyes as I reminisce about the hardships we endured snaking our way up the Missouri River. Brutal storms rained down on us and tested our dedication, but we all made it out alive. The weather brought an appalling coldness to Lewis and Clark as well as us, the Corps of Discovery. This miserable, damp coldness seeped into our bones and imprinted a disturbing sensation into our minds. I snapped out of it and formulated thoughts in my mind about the warning given to us about how in the Western Louisiana Territory, the tribe of Native Americans we were about to cross paths with were the most developed and dangerous. We were instructed by Thomas Jefferson to be respectful and civil with the Teton Sioux. Personally, I was frightened that they would think of us as enemies and scalp us. I was quite fond of my head of hair and the skin that went with it, so I had my concerns about venturing into this land. As the boat grew closer and the silhouette of land drew nearer, I made my way towards Clark. As the needle on the compass near him swung due to choppy waters, I peered over Clark’s shoulder and looked at him carefully making the map of our travels neater and more accurate looking, in return earning more of my respect for cartography.

The image of the land got sharper as we approached the land with caution. Being on land made me feel normal and grounded. That dangerous tribes we had been told about was waiting for us, weapons such as spears and bows and arrows were drawn. We exchanged intense, pensive stares with the Natives. Tensions grew so thick that it was as if I could cut it with my knife. I was prepared for a battle, but hoping to obey Jefferson’s words of maintaining peace with them. One of the men was about to shoot us and then “Black Buffalo” the chief of the Teton Sioux ordered his fighters to stand down. I was relieved because I didn’t want to fight anyone. It was our job to ensure that this land is ours, so they should obey. The tribe was pretty gracious as they let us stay the night. The night was freezing, not allowing me to fall into a peaceful slumber. I suffered from insomnia as my mind became riddled with thoughts of worry and doubt. I questioned the Natives’ loyalties and I felt vulnerable. I drifted off into a sleep, dreaming of a warm bed and my family. I woke up, alive. Turns out, the Teton Sioux could be hospitable than at first glance when we we nearly skewered by the Natives. We then packed up and carried our belongings, journeying further towards the Pacific Ocean.

We trudged through the hills, I started to taste the iron of the blood that came up from my lungs from walking so long. What met my eyes amazed me. The Mandans and Hidatsas who were heavily populated with what looked to be around 4,000 tribe members. A blast of chilling wind prickled the hairs on my arms and smelled like sun-baked dirt. This reminded me that we had to make somewhere to live for the winter. Lewis and Clark decided to build this fort on the other side of the Missouri River. We tirelessly built this fort and decided to name it Fort Mandan. We decided that we had to find a way to communicate with the tribes and needed someone, an interpreter. We also needed a guide of sorts to give us the lay of the land and help us survive. This search led us to Charbonneau, a French Canadian fur trader that lived in the tribe as an interpreter and the Shoshone woman at his side named Sacagawea.

Sacagawea followed us on our journey and helped us to find and hunt food such as buffalo. She was a great help who knew a lot about the land and helped us all stay alive. Soon, she cried out in pain. She doubled over and clutched her protruding abdomen. Sacagawea was going to give birth as these labor contractions of hers got closer and closer. Lewis quickly ground up the rings of a rattlesnake’s rattle to help induce and speed up the process. We all cheered her on and assisted with the birth of her beautiful baby boy, Jean-Baptiste. I was immediately struck with worry because we were struggling to survive, so how would a newborn baby do the same? All of the pain and suffering was worth it as a connection soon grew stronger between Sacagawea and her baby boy. We then left Fort Mandan with Sacagawea’s baby. Nothing could slow her down on this exhibition.

We ventured onwards, into our unknown. It excites me and scares me at the same time. This is a mission for Thomas Jefferson and the knowledge of the greater good. I know that this will go down in history and with the help of Sacagawea, we will make it to the Pacific Ocean and draw a precise map, depicting our difficult journey. One foot in front of another, belongings on back, we will complete this journey with flying colors. I know that all of this suffering will be worth it in the end. Ahead, a plush land, with dense foliage entices us as this beauty helps us stay strong and positive. I must make it through this journey. I will make it through this journey.