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Buying Salish Horses

William Clark’s journal entry for September 5, 1805, describes the Americans’ formal meeting with the Salish hunting party. According to Clark communication required successive translations from English to French, Hidatsa, Shoshone, and Salish. The task required “so many different languages,” he added, that “we therefore proceeded to the more intelligible language of presents.”

Clark reported buying eleven “elegant” horses from the Salish in exchange for seven of the group’s worn out ponies and “a few articles of merchandise.” Sergeant Ordway noted that they now had “40 good pack horses.”

Click here to read Elliott Coues' paraphrase of this story