Crossing the Indian Country, 1804 1806
 
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Rescued by the Salish

"The Likelyist and Honestest Indians”
(John Ordway, September 5, 1805)

By the fall of 1805, the Corps of Discovery had struggled past the Great Falls of the Missouri and entered the labyrinth of peaks and valleys that marked the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. With mounting dread they realized the Rocky Mountains were unlike the mountain ranges they had seen east of the Mississippi. Instead of neat ridges separating eastern and western slopes, the explorers discovered immense, snow-capped peaks separating valleys that ran in every direction. The weather was turning cold and there was no clear path to the west.

With Sakakawea’s assistance, the Americans befriended a band of Shoshones led by her brother Cameahwait. Anxious about hostile and well-armed neighbors, the Indians eagerly traded horses and directions for the Americans’ goods. They agreed to help the Americans through Lemhi Pass in modern Idaho and to leave them an elderly guide named Toby, but impatient to leave for their fall buffalo hunt, the Shoshones quickly turned back toward the plains. The Americans were now headed north into the Bitterroot Valley. They needed fresh horses and detailed directions. Time was running short. On September 5 they met the Salish.